An Encouraging Letter - UPDATE November 11, 2017

I set aside the update I’d written for tonight to give me time to catch one of the people in the story and make sure it’s okay to use her name. Bear Walker of the NorthwoodsBear Walker of the NorthwoodsIt was easy to set aside because I came across a letter from June 25, 2011 that made my heart swell with encouragement that the Bear Center is making a difference.

Scary Magazine ImageScary Magazine ImageThe writer told how the Bear Center changed her life. A hiker, she told how fear of bears “plagued most of my footsteps.” She accidentally discovered the Bear Center and wrote, “I was so excited that night I could hardly sleep. Finally, I was going to a place that I was hoping would help me face and overcome my fear of bears. I could hardly wait to get there the next morning.”

When she saw the exhibit of old magazine covers, she “realized that is exactly where my fear of bears began. My dad had hunting magazines lying around, and bears were always depicted as gruesome, man-eating animals. Once I realized that was the place my unrealistic fears began, Bear Walker of the NorthwoodsBear Walker of the NorthwoodsI was able to look more into the truth about bears. I went into the little theater at the center and watched your video ‘Bearwalker of the Northwoods.’ I was deeply touched by you and your wife’s commitment to these gentle giants. At one point, I actually got tears in my eyes as I came to appreciate and embrace bears instead of feeling fear and dread. Bear on trailBear on trailYou have indeed changed my life in terms of bears with your research and understanding of these animals. After I left the Bear Center, I went on to hike in Bear Head State Park. For the first time, I walked in the northwoods without fear of bears. It was raining, but that did not negatively impact my 35-mile hike because I had been changed—forever changed in a good way. I will always be a cautious hiker and take precautions, but now I have one less thing to fear thanks to you and your tireless research. I bought your ‘Bearwalker’ DVD and showed it to my parents. They were as amazed as I was and too are thankful for lessons you have taught us.”

I am thankful for the team of staff, volunteers, interns, and donors who have already carried the Bear Center beyond my dreams. We now see that we have a long way to go as we work to expand the education both inside and beyond the Bear Center, to upgrade the Cub Room, enlarge the bear enclosure, and build sustainability through an endowment fund that can open new doors. Lily Fans know the many ways you have made this possible.

Thank you for all you do.

Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center