A User's Guide to Life on Earth

Toronto, Canada
43.653226000000, -79.383184300000
Journal Entry:

When I was a kid I had a few experiences and loves that changed my life. The first was watching Steve Irwin--the Crocodile Hunter. His overflowing passion for animals and the natural world lit a fire in me that has only grown with time. My Christmas lists were every series he made and I had a poster on my bedroom wall of him! The second was deciding one day to get in my own backyard as a ten year old to try and see how many species I could find.

What began as a plan for a 10-minute outing turned into a two hour bonanza of discovery. With magnifying glass and sketchbook in tow, I found 72 species! Some were bigger, like birds and squirrels, but most were in the undergrowth: spiders, beetles, ants galore. Things I had no name for because I'd never seen anything like them. The scale was amazing. Imagine walking down the street and having a person walk by who was 30 feet tall! Ants live this every minute with other ants. From this adventure I learned that an entire colony of the world's smallest ant can fit inside the head of just one of the world's largest ants! That fact still blows my mind.

These experiences put me on a lifelong path of learning. I read every animal book. I got animal fact file cards on subscription. I own basically every Planet Earth-type TV series there is.