IMG_0046, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from ccbarr’s photostream

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” – Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson is the Mother of the Modern Environmental Movement. She was born in 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania in a farmhouse just 14 miles up the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh and went to college at what is now Chatham University. She received a master’s degree in zoology from the John Hopkins University and became only the second woman hired to a full-time professional position with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries in 1936. She was already a popular natural history author by the time her book, Silent Spring was published in 1962. Silent Spring documented the ecological and human damage caused by pesticides. While it received a storm of criticism from chemical companies, it led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides. But, it did more than that — it was the inspiration for the grassroots environmental movement and led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter. In Pittsburgh, the Ninth Street Bridge was renamed for her on Earth Day, April 22, 2006.

Carson’s love of nature began at her childhood home which is now known as the Rachel Carson Homestead. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and the Rachel Carson Homestead Association was formed in 1975 to preserve the site. The Rachel Carson Homestead is the only site in the world dedicated to interpreting Rachel Carson’s legacy to the public. With that in mind, the Rachel Carson Homestead Association designs and implements education programs and resources in keeping with her environmental ethic.

Now, the Rachel Carson Homestead Association is a finalist in the 2011 This Place Matters Community Challenge hosted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The top prize is a $25,000 grant. The winner will be chosen by a vote by the public. You can show the nation that the Rachel Carson Homestead matters by voting here (voting ends on June 30, 2011).