For Martin Dodge, nature has always been a haven. Growing up in Connecticut, Dodge said, "I gravitated to the woods as often as I could. There was steep gorge nearby with a perennial stream and big trees. I would build forts and treehouses and just escape into the wilderness." Dodge's love of nature continued when he attended Colby College in Maine, where he founded and coached the school's woodsmen team as he majored in chemistry. "Had it not been for the joy and outlet that I had with the woodsmen team I doubt I could have overcome the academic challenges of my chemistry major," he remarked.
Following graduation, Dodge spent two years teaching junior high science. "Teaching is something I was born to do," he said. "I'd found my calling." But duty also called in the form of a draft notice. Dodge spent 3½ years in the Coast Guard stationed in Alaska during the Vietnam War. "Even during that difficult time, the surroundings were unbelievably inspiring and beautiful."
After his service, Dodge received his graduate degree in forest recreation and returned to the classroom, this time at the college level. "I taught at Finger Lakes Community College for 39 marvelous years before I retired," Dodge noted. "I so enjoyed leading 14 month-long expeditions to Alaska to immerse the students in the biological and spiritual significance of wilderness. And I still volunteer as a coach for the woodsmen teams at Finger Lakes. They are the most successful collegiate team in the country."
Dodge has passed on his love of the wilderness to countless students as well as his two daughters. "Now I'm working to ensure that my three young grandsons will also gain a deeper appreciation of nature," Dodge said. Because of his passion for conservation and wildlife education, Dodge decided to support The Wilderness Society through a gift in his will.
"If you want to promote wilderness values and preserve wild places, it's necessary to join with the organizations that are fundamentally in a position to make a difference," Dodge explained. "The existence of wilderness is so significant to the soul and spirit of humanity. Thoreau said ‘In Wild is the preservation of the Earth.' That's why, when I recently updated my will, I decided to include a bequest to The Wilderness Society."
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