By Gwynne Corrigan (Development Director)
World-class nature photographers and long term Pepperwood supporters, Gerald and Buff Corsi, traverse the world capturing flora and fauna on film and video. But they always come home to Pepperwood, which has held a special place in their hearts for at least five decades. So much so that Gerald and Buff joined our legacy program, the Sentinel Society, to ensure that science-based conservation benefits wildlife, community, open space, and nature forever.
As Pepperwood’s Development Manager, I wanted to learn more about the power of Pepperwood by speaking with the people who love it infinitely. For two people who have been everywhere in the world, I had to know, what is it about Pepperwood that keeps Gerald and Buff forever invested? I decided to interview them and learn of their experience here.
Gerald, a retired oral surgeon, and Buff met almost 50-years ago at a photo workshop at the California Academy of Sciences, where Buff worked for many years. They have explored and photographed the life and landscapes of Pepperwood since the early 1970’s, when the reserve was owned and managed by the CalAcademy. Their strong connection to Pepperwood continues to this day, and their obvious love for this place shines through in their most recent photography exhibit: Flora – The Joy of Flowers, with all proceeds donated to Pepperwood.
Both Gerald and Buff were intensely interested in nature and photography from early childhood, but they wished they’d had access to a place like Pepperwood – where they could learn how to apply scientific inquiry and observation of the natural world to their own budding interests. Such access to nature and environmental education drives, in large part, their strong connection with Pepperwood’s TeenNat program.
Over the years, Gerald has featured as a TeenNat guest speaker, sharing his gift of nature photography with the kids. He was incredibly inspired by their knowledge and eloquence when speaking in front of classmates and educators. This was the type of place-based opportunity he’d yearned for as a youth, and he saw how TeenNat was changing their lives.
“I had a little slide show that I did on my computer, and I would work with four to five kids at a time,” he told me. “Buff and I had just gotten back from the Arctic and we had lots of pictures of birds. I was showing the kids what we do, and there was this boy there and he was naming every bird I showed! He was naming them – and here he is from Santa Rosa – and didn’t just know the name but he’d say ‘oh that’s the male! Oh that’s the female,’ and it was so impressive.”
We at Pepperwood are eternally grateful for Gerald and Buff Corsi’s continued support, and for sharing their photographic gifts with the kids, Pepperwood, and the surrounding community. As members of the Sentinel Society, the Corsi’s legacy gift makes it possible for Pepperwood to be a vigilant protector of nature today, and into perpetuity. Please email me if you are inspired to join Pepperwood’s Sentinel Society and ensure that science-based conservation benefits wildlife, community, open space, and nature forever.