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For over 37 years Rick LoBello has dedicated his life to conservation education. After working and living in national parks as a park ranger, research scientist and administrator, Rick developed a vision for an educational effort that would allow him to use his talents to promote the conservation of endangered species and related habitats in third world countries. His dream has been in the making for over a decade and has been inspired by his travels to national parks and related protected areas in the United States, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, France, Kenya, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Rwanda and Singapore.
The highlight of Rick's journey around the world was a 1989 trip to see the endangered mountain gorillas of Virunga Mountains National Park in Rwanda. It was on a rainy day in February, when Rick came face to face with one of the rarest creatures on earth, that his dream became a lifelong commitment.
In demonstrating his commitment to international conservation, in 1994 Rick sponsored an environmental education project in Zambia at North Luangwa National Park. Working closely with the Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Owens Foundation, Rick designed and published a 40 page environmental education guide for school children living near the park. In the years that followed his leadership skills have resulted in a number of noteworthy projects including ongoing efforts to help create a binational US/Mexico International Peace Park, directing an award winning multi-media education program at Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks and the establishment of a annual International Bat Festival at Carlsbad Caverns.
As an environmental advocate Rick is the co-founder of the Mexican Wolf Coalition of Texas and the founder of the first Student Environmental Council and Earth Week at William Jewell College. He has been a spokesperson for the establishment of the Tallgrass Prairie National Park in Kansas and most recently worked with a coalition of environmental organizations in promoting the establishment of a Capitan Reef National Monument in Southern New Mexico. The monument has yet to be created, but the dream is still alive.
As a research scientist his work helped to influence legislation that resulted in the creation of Texas's largest state park at the Big Bend Ranch in the Solitario and Bofecillos Mountains. While working on his Master's degree he conducted the first vertebrate survey for the newly established Lake Amistad National Recreation Area.
Rick's writings have been published in park brochures and newspapers, trade journals and in nationally distributed magazines like Defenders of Wildlife and Texas Parks and Wildlife. During his tenure at Big Bend National Park his writings and other advocacy efforts helped to call attention to the status of rare mammals in the park including the endangered Mexican black bear population that began to re-colonize the park in 1988. As a result of his unrelenting efforts Rick's accomplishments have been recognized and honored by high-level government officials in the Department of the Interior and by Rotary International.
In helping parks prepare for the 21st Century Rick played a major role as a cooperating association executive director in helping to lead nation wide efforts to bring modern technology to the parks. His leadership in the field of technology resulted in the first interactive CD-Rom Audio Tour for a national park at Carlsbad Caverns and the production of an award winning CD-ROM (1998). In 2001 this same Carlsbad Caverns Guadalupe Mountains CD-ROM was repackaged and released by National Geographic.
In 2002 Rick became the Education Curator of the El Paso Zoo where he works on a wide variety of conservation projects both locally and regionally.
(3 comments) SHARE Sunday, May 3, 2009 Sharing the earth with nature and surviving pandemics
When historians look back on this century they will no doubt be able to see how our 7 or 8 big problems mentioned by President Obama at his first 100 days press conference were just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to the greatest threat to this country and the rest of the world, the continuing loss of biodiversity.
(2 comments) SHARE Tuesday, August 5, 2008 What happens to all of the animals when their homes are destroyed by bulldozers?
Our overall lack of knowledge and denial of life's most important reality, how all of us are connected to what happens in the natural world, is destroying the Chihuahuan Desert. There are many ways to get involved in helping to save what World Wildlife Fund and many other conservation organizations recognize our desert as one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world.