[audubon-news] Columbia Astronaut Helps Audubon Establish Stewardship Fund

  • From: "BIANCHI, John" <JBIANCHI@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <audubon-news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2003 11:26:37 -0500

> Contact: Kristy Wright
> 212/979-3027
> kwright@xxxxxxxxxxx
> Columbia Astronaut Planned to > '> Take Care of This Fragile Planet> '> 
> Upon Her Return - Her Will Establishes Fund with a $300,000 Donation
> New York, NY, October 29, 2003 -- Her feet may have been planted firmly on 
> the soil of her hometown of Karnal, India, but Dr. Kalpana Chawla's eyes were 
> on the sky from an early age.  The future astronaut became fascinated with 
> flight through observing the birds around her home and watching planes at her 
> town's local flying club.  She could not have known that in her future, her 
> view of the sky would change dramatically -- she would look down onto Earth 
> from high above the blue skies she admired in her youth and continue to 
> marvel.
> "> Just looking at Earth, looking at the stars during the night part of 
> Earth; just looking at our planet roll by and the speed at which it goes by 
> and the awe that it inspires; just so many such good thoughts come to your 
> mind when you see all that,> ">  she said in an ABC News interview.  > "> 
> Doing it again is like living a dream - a good dream - once again.> "> 
> Dr. Chawla's dream of space flight was realized in 1996 when she became the 
> first Indian-American to fly with a United States shuttle crew.  Tragically, 
> as the nation and her family watched helplessly, Chawla and her six crewmates 
> perished on February 1, 2003, over Texas as Columbia was re-entering Earth's 
> atmosphere en route to a landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
> Before her death, Dr. Chawla remarked from the spacecraft Columbia that it 
> was important to take care of this fragile planet.  Upon her return to Earth, 
> she hoped to become more involved with Audubon and similar organizations that 
> supported environmental stewardship and education.
> Dr. Chawla> '> s will designates Audubon as the organization of her choice 
> for fulfilling this wish.  Following through her desire to > "> recognize and 
> support outstanding individuals who are committed to the sustainability of 
> Planet Earth,> ">  Dr. Chawla> '> s will establishes The Kalpana Chawla Fund 
> for Environmental Stewardship with National Audubon Society to promote the 
> care and wise stewardship of our fragile planet.  The $300,000 Fund will 
> recognize worthy conservation projects in the U.S. and globally.  Audubon 
> will work with its international conservation partners, including the Royal 
> Society for the Protection of Birds and Bird Life International, to identify 
> significant environmental efforts worldwide.
> "> Kalpana Chawla's regard for birds and the planet that supports them was 
> deeply held,> ">  said Audubon President John Flicker.  > "> Her desire to 
> foster strong stewardship and protect our global heritage is realized in the 
> fund that her will so generously establishes and that Audubon is fortunate to 
> administer.> "> 
> "> Kalpana Chawla is a hero,> ">  said Audubon Chair-elect Carol M. Browner, 
> former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.  > "> Her 
> accomplishments at such a young age were remarkable.  It is testament to the 
> depth of her knowledge that she understood how fragile our planet is and how 
> we must all work to protect it.> "> 
> An accomplished birder, Dr. Chawla, developed a love of nature and birds as a 
> girl in India.  While living in Houston, she shared her love of birding with 
> her sisters and her friends, who often accompanied her on long birding trips 
> in and around Texas.  On one trip to Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge on the 
> Texas coastal bend, Dr. Chawla and her friends marveled at the huge flocks of 
> herons, egrets, ibises, and migrating birds that stop through Texas on their 
> route south.  > "> Chawla loved the possibilities for seasonal sightings of 
> migrating birds in Texas,> ">  said Carolynn Conley, a close friend and 
> fellow birder, in a profile that appears in > Birding magazine.
> "> Kalpana grew from the lessons she learned from birds,> ">  continued 
> Conley.  > "> More than just the birds themselves, Kalpana taught us that 
> birding is also about people and relationships,> ">  said Cynthia Tuthill, 
> Chawla's friend also featured in the Birding magazine article. > "> She was 
> so deeply touched by this magnificent community of souls. She loved sharing 
> her experiences and learning from others.> "> 
> Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat 
> that supports them.  Our national network of community-based nature centers 
> and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of 
> areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all 
> ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.
> #   #   #

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