(By Robert Howell) Greetings, My name is Robert Howell or “Ranger Rob” as I am known around the area and beyond. I moved down to Florida about 3 years ago after an amazing experience I had when releasing a manatee that I was privileged enough to help care for and then reintroduce back into the wild as ALL capable human care manatees will be once healthy or strong enough.
I feel in love with this area and its ecosystems but I saw many issues of human interference destroying this amazing area that is south west Florida that I had to move down and make a stand. I have worked with many organizations around the country with animal behavior, habitat restoration and animal husbandry and care. I am a Florida Master Naturalist, A Caloosahatchee Water Keeper Ranger, Crow Volunteer, and many other things to help better educate myself on what’s going on in our area and also how I can help best. Here on the island I earn my living as a Naturalist, educating about and sharing about our amazing estuaries and water ways and forest we have here right in our own back yards. I also create and produce videos with children about wildlife and its importance in our world.
I find it increasingly important to connect people with the natural world around them. I understand and respect that my world, my views and my experiences are my own, and that not everyone has had the same connections or experiences with the natural world. However I feel that with what I have experienced and witnessed throughout my life, allow me to connect people and wild places in a unique and meaningful way. Whether you’re in a cubical or deep in the jungle we are all connected to what happens to our planet. Children especially are important and we must encourage them to ALWAYS ask questions, make mistakes, and get messy. I have never come across a child who is not amazed by the world around them. I love not only igniting that spark inside everyone but further fueling it to a raging fire of curiosity and wonder. Some adults seem to lose that and forget why it’s important to remember that excitement that the natural world and its animals bring. I get it being an adult there are so many things that are on our minds and adult problems are not easy to deal with and still remember why we need trees or how dolphins see their world.
That is why I do what I do. I educate children in hopes that they will continue their curiosity of our world and far beyond, and I do my best to reignite that awe and wonder in adults. Sometimes through their children. Honestly though with adults, I can teach and talk all day about why it’s important to recycle, turn off lights and be a decent person, but adults are already set in their ways and some random Ranger Rob will not change them or their behaviors. However if I am able to fuel the passion of their children and teach them why it is important we fight for those who cannot speak for themselves (the animals, plants and our oceans) the children’s voices will be far more powerful and impactful. Not to mention they will grow up knowing that what they do and how they treat our planet will affect us all.
I connect with nature, I do my best to connect with people. If by doing both at the same time and share that experience and allow someone to look in the eyes of another creature on earth and have a momentary feeling of awe and wonder I will have done my job. To truly look into the eyes of another creature is a very humbling experience, one I think we all need from time to time.
I look forward to educating you and sharing with you what is happening here near our island.
Ranger Rob Howell can be reached on Instagram at RangerRobFMB, Facebook: Ranger Rob FMB or by e-mail at RangerRob@pinkshell.com