Supporting Earthwatch with a legacy: Paul Baker's story
After a childhood spent exploring the Cairngorms and North Wales alongside holidays abroad, I ended up reading geography at university and becoming a teacher in 1970. My first decade of teaching saw me on trips with students across the UK, establishing my credentials as a geography teacher and carrying out fieldwork.
Travelling sowed the seeds of exploration, which has seen me lead over 3,000 students on geography, biology and conservation expeditions across the globe. Studying the Tuareg in the Sahara in 1971 made me realise the importance of getting young people to explore, learn and share why our globe needs protection.
All my expedition planning began after meeting with friends, Nigel and Shane Winser, to check on expedition safety, or just to talk things through. This is fundamentally why I became involved in Earthwatch after retiring. I had volunteered on Earthwatch trips to study elephants in Kenya and wildlife in South Africa.
When meeting with Nigel Winser in 2013, he shared his Earthwatch passion which inspired me to become a volunteer. I volunteered from 2013 to 2017. Organising and leading Earthwatch student expeditions was an absolute pleasure.
I organised expeditions to the Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa and the coral reefs in the Bahamas. I also organised and took part in three trips to the rainforests of Sabah's Danum Valley in Borneo. The enthusiasm of the students and the other volunteers was important, but also the friendships I built with staff is something I will always cherish.
In my 70s now, I am still travelling and supporting young people's charities in Morocco and South Africa. I have also added a legacy in my will to Earthwatch.
Paul Baker FRGS, Chartered Geographer, (MA Geography and Education), BSc - Earthwatch Expedition Volunteer