National Geographic President and CEO John Fahey traveled to Hollywood this weekend to accept the Environmental Media Association‘s Legacy Award on behalf of the Society. Explorers-in-Residence Beverly and Dereck Joubert—whose years of filmmaking, photography, and conservation efforts on behalf of the world’s endangered felines inspired the new Big Cats Initiative—joined Fahey for the ceremony.
Actor Harrison Ford helped to present the award, and shared these moving (and humbling) words about National Geographic:
“The Environmental Media Legacy Award is awarded to a media organization that has not only proven its absolute commitment to environmental concerns, but continues to build and expand upon that commitment year after year. This year it goes to an organization that has been at the forefront of environmental concerns for 120 years; educating and inspiring us on the importance of nature conservation and respect for all of the Earth’s creatures a century before it was a part of cultural consciousness: The National Geographic Society.
“They are one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Seeking to inspire people about their planet, the mission of the organization is ‘to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world’s cultural, historical, and natural resources’.
“Their support of the environment began in 1890. In 1916 they helped draft legislation that established the National Park Service.
“Since their inception, they have supported more than 9,000 projects and expeditions and awarded over $170 million in grants to projects such as the excavation of Machu Picchu, the discovery of the Titanic, the work of Jane Goodall, Diane Fossey, and the Leakey family. Their Emerging Explorers Program recognizes young explorers and scientists and supports each with a $10,000 grant, while their Expeditions Council provides grants towards the exploration of largely unrecorded areas of the world.
“They also realized that exploration must go hand-in-hand with preservation and in 2001 created the Conservation Trust, a program that funds public education campaigns on global issues, preservation of animal populations and habitat, and education about diverse world cultures. And, of course, they produce television documentaries, promote geotourism, and publish that wonderful magazine we all grew up with—the same publication that a century ago published articles about the dangers of pollution, deforestation, and the importance of preserving our natural resources.
“National Geographic was raising awareness and fighting battles before any of us realized they existed. They remain at the forefront.”