Sharing Stories: Jay's Story

I grew up in rural Virginia in the 1960's. After breakfast I'd say goodbye to my mom and trek into the miles of woods surrounding our house. Behind the house I'd touch my favorite trees as I walked along the well-worn path. I'd see squirrels and the occasional deer. I'd stop at the crumbling base of a chimney, deep in the woods, punctuated by saplings, and reflect on past lives lived out here. I once found an arrowhead in the clearing that contained (until then) mysterious flakes of quartz.


Across the road I'd walk with my dog for miles through dense forest to the reservoir where I'd fish with a bamboo pole. Whatever I caught would take up residence in the tiny pond I created by damming up the small creek that bisected our backyard. Once I ran into a large bull snake who reared up like a cobra and scared me so much that I spilled my bucket of fish.

At sunset I'd return home for dinner --- happy, dirty, sunburned, and tired. My mom would check for bites, scratches, poison ivy, and ticks before insisting that I take a bath. I found a newspaper clipping from those days; I'm beaming as I receive an honorable mention as a 6th grader in the Izaak Walton League Essay Contest!


My deep love for the earth came from this time, reinforced by other experiences over the years, notably the time that dolphins leapt to great vertical heights to check out our ship in Georges Banks, and the time when we were surrounded by hundreds of sea lions off the coast of Peru who were disappointed to learn that we were a research ship, and not a fishing vessel.


Today, I work for a land conservation group. We make parks, and we help communities to protect the lands they love from encroaching development. Every place we protect is special. I give to EarthShare because it is such an easy way to support all of the environmental groups who are protecting our planet for other species and for future generations of humans.


Last summer I visited the house where I grew up --- expecting the worst. The woods behind the house are still there! The path to the reservoir is protected watershed! And a small boy waved at me from his front yard. From a distance he looked happy, dirty, sunburned, and tired.

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Jay Dean
Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
The Trust for Public Land, EarthShare member charity



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Cheri Ewing

Your story gave me a dual memory replay event that had a smile on my face the entire time. I was playing a visual of your story and replaying a visual of my childhood life at the same time. I would help granny milk the cow every morning. Back in the kitchen when granny wasn't looking, I'd sneak a tablespoon of warm sweet milk. All the kitchen trimmings were fed to the chickens or the turtle. Our garden fed us and grandfather was the well known town butcher and our freezer was always full as a result of the trimmings most did not want. We'd go down to the Salton Sea fishing for perch, corvina and the unwanted carp always seemed to come up too. Unlike yourself, some of mine are gone, the cow pen, the garden, the old brick plant next door. My mother lives in the house and I have a garden because my grandparents had one. The Salton Sea is still there in a poor state of health. Thank you for your story, it made want to do more to redevelop some of what is left of my grandparents legacy, which through their lifestyle they always were replenishing the actual land we lived on.

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