Virginia Gewin
In 2016, with funding from the Alicia Patterson Foundation, I had the good fortune to travel for a series of stories on the need to conserve agricultural diversity.

I went to mainland Malaysia for a two-week wild banana collection trip, followed by a visit to Crops for the Future outside Kuala Lumpur. I then traveled to Iceland while all of the Arctic nations met for a series of meetings and enjoyed a tour of diverse livestock farms and greenhouse operations. And, in the US, I went from far-flung medicinal hemp fields in eastern Colorado to the Fine Chocolate Industry Association meeting in New York City. It was a great year of reporting!

In August 2011, I traveled to Kauai as part of the Environmental Journalism Fellows program, run by the National Tropical Botanical Garden. For a week, I learned how these remote islands shaped such unique flora and fauna. Unfortunately, the Hawaiian islands also have the dubious distinction of being the "endangered species capital of the world". A highlight of the trip was a visit to the Makauwahi Cave, “the poor man’s Jurassic Park”, according to paleoecologist Dave Burney. Burney and his wife, Lida Piggott Burney (both pictured here), are searching the soil for fossilized clues of native species--using that information to restore nearby land. The Burneys let the fellows sieve some slumped soil inside the cave, not expecting we’d find anything. Yet, Laura Petersen and I uncovered the bones of a, possibly 2000-year old, honeycreeper--birds, many of which are now extinct, that evolved distinctive beaks to access plant nectar. Very exciting!