Remembering Dr. Richard W. Becker

I’d like to introduce you to a very special man and the namesake of the EEANM
Dr. Richard W. Becker Award of Excellence in Environmental Education. This was no ordinary man. He was hard working, intelligent, motivated, congenial, and humorous. Devoted to his professional career as well as volunteering for a number of community groups, which were many. The short list includes:

The Albuquerque Wild Turkey Federation
The Albuquerque Wildlife Federation
Ducks Unlimited
The Rio Grande Conservancy District Pheasants Forever
The Aldo Leopold Education Project The Elk Foundation
Riparian Council

He had been involved in many of these groups before he decided to retire from the work force. But once he retired you would think he had taken on at least two more jobs with the amount of work and time he spent involved in these organizations. This was his passion. He thrived in these environments where he and other members worked together to raise funds to support the work of these groups, worked on educational projects, and physically worked on any number of hands-on projects associated with these organizations.

He was voted President of several of these organizations and he took this position very seriously. He never failed to put all his energy into the needed planning, organization, and implementation of any activity that helped to support these groups.

He traveled to a variety of locations, not only to participate in the hands on business of many work projects, but to attend conferences so that he would be up to date on the ever changing advances and approaches to improving how these groups try to achieve their goals. He even perused through newspapers, periodicals, and books, often cutting out articles or collecting information and updates on related subjects. He never threw any of this information away believing it would always be a helpful reference.

As he was working on his Ph.D. in environmental education, he made his focus on service learning. He felt very strongly that we, as citizens, must get involved and play a key role in managing and protecting our wildlife environments. He felt that one of the best ways to ‘act out our citizenship’ is to participate, learn, and then teach. Dr. Becker participated in several service learning projects with grade school children and this underscores his hope and goal of starting that education process early. Getting our youth involved and excited about caring for our wildlife environments.

One of the people most influential in Dr. Becker’s life was Aldo Leopold. This was a man who spearheaded environmental preservation and made huge strides towards that goal. Dr. Becker felt so strongly about Aldo Leopold’s teachings, that he repeatedly recommended to family, friends and co-workers, the Aldo Leopold book entitled, “A Sand County Almanac”. As a matter of fact, he purchased a large number of this book in paperback and personally wrote a short note in each one. He then handed them out free to anyone who would take one. Now thats dedication, wouldn’t you say?

Dr. Becker’s favorite passage from “A Sand County Almanac” was an essay called “Thinking Like A
Mountain”. This particular essay spoke to him like no other and he frequently referred to it during many of his lectures. In his doctoral dissertation he included a quote by Aldo Leopold that sums up a major goal of environmental education:

“The object is to teach the student to see the land, to understand what he sees, and to enjoy what he understands.”

You may have your own passion regarding environmental education. So thank you for your efforts in helping to further the goal of promoting responsible stewardship of this beautiful planet we live on.


Carol Chavez, Dr. Becker’s widow, along with Michelle Smith and Sandra Lyon, Dr. Becker’s daughters