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The donation was the direct result of Meadow Pond students’ vote that day regarding which of four environmental nonprofits—Northern Jaguar Reserve, Defenders of Wildlife, VIVA Vaquita, or Virunga National Park—Lourie should donate to.
Meadow Pond's librarian, Diane Moller, announced the contest on Earth Day. The students' job was to research the organizations and be ready to vote for one when Lourie visited on June 7.
This concept was developed by Authors for Earth Day in order to empower young readers to shape the world around them.
Peter Lourie’s presentation about his work, made separately to the third, fourth, and fifth grades, was as exciting as the vote.
“I was in the jungles of Ecuador studying monkeys,” he began. “I went up into the mountains and there I heard the story of an Incan treasure. The Inca buried seven hundred and fifty tons of gold back in 1533 in a place where the Spanish Conquistadors wouldn’t find it—the cloud forest.”
“And guess what, guys? It’s still there.” He had the class’ attention.
“When I heard that story I know I didn’t want to study monkeys anymore,” said Lourie. “I wanted to be a treasure hunter!”
Lourie didn’t find the gold but he found the story that turned him into a writer. That adventure became “Sweat of the Sun, Tears of the Moon: A Chronicle of Incan Treasure,” his first book.
That book led to other adventures including those closest to home--marriage and parenting, as well as another book, "Hudson River: An Adventure from the Mountains to the Sea.”
Lourie recounted the highs and lows of that canoe trip down the Hudson River by showing students the contents of his river bag—including a brown wool crusher hat, two pairs of paddling pants, a blue camping towel the size of a small winter scarf, a sleeping mat and sleeping bag, a dented mess kit, and a recorder which he uses to capture the sights and sounds, emotions and information of every journey.
Lourie’s other books include “Whaling Season: A Year in the Life an Artic Whale Scientist,” “The Manatee Scientists: Saving Vulnerable Species,” “Polar Bear Scientists,” and “Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush.” He is currently working on a book about Norwegian polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen.
“I love my job,” said Lourie. “I get to take adventures all over the world and write about them. I see new places, learn new things and meet new people.
“Good writing is detailed writing,” Lourie had the students repeat in unison.