Stories for Earth Day Archives - StoryCorps
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The Chief of a Louisiana Tribe Reflects on Being Displaced by Climate Change

Members of the Jean Charles Choctaw Nation are slowly leaving the land they’ve lived and farmed on for generations… as stronger and more frequent storms hit the Louisiana coastline. 

Chief Albert Naquin remembers growing up on Isle de Jean Charles, LA in the 1950s. He came to StoryCorps with his nephew, Démé Naquin Jr., who also grew up on the island. 

Middle Photo: Démé Naquin Jr., looking out on the Jean Charles tribe’s ancestral burial ground on Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana. By Von Diaz for StoryCorps.

Hurricanes are common across the region, but climate change has increased the frequency and destructiveness of these storms, leading to flooding and coastal erosion, and destroying homes and local infrastructure. 

Chief Naquin believes relocation is crucial for his community to keep them safe and preserve their history and culture. Since 2002 he’s made multiple attempts to acquire the funds and support needed to move the remaining families off the island and reunite the tribe in a new community on higher ground. But his efforts have been stunted by numerous factors, including the inability to reach consensus within their tribal council, and a planned move that was halted when community members in neighboring Bourg, Louisiana protested the tribe’s relocation there. 

 At StoryCorps, he spoke with his nephew about their memories of the island, and their shared hope for their entire community to be together again.

Top Photo: Chief Albert Naquin and Démé Naquin Jr. at their StoryCorps interview in Montegut, Louisiana on September 17, 2022. By Zanna McKay for StoryCorps.
Bottom Photo: An abandoned home on Isle de Jean Charles, with a sign reading, “Isle de Charles is not dead. Climate change sucks.” By Von Diaz for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired September 23, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Learning to Fly

How this birder carries on his family’s legacy

Drew Lanham and John Lane

“I saw my father in large part through the land, and I saw the land as my father’s heart.”

Growing up on his family farm in South Carolina, Drew Lanham loved to watch the birds that would come to visit. He saw the land as a part of his father, who watched over the farm for his entire life. When his father passed away and the land was clear cut, it felt like losing his father twice. Drew remembers how he left that life behind, and then found his way back.

Presented as part of the all-new StoryCorps animation season “This Land,” stories to transport you across America.

Listen to Drew and John’s original StoryCorps interview.

Para subtítulos en español, haga click en el ícono de YouTube en la esquina derecha, y escoja “Spanish” bajo la opción de “settings” y “subtitles/CC.

Friends and Climate Change Scientists on the Personal Cost of their Work

Dr. Lora Koenig and Dr. Zoe Courville first met over a decade ago in the middle of the Greenland ice sheet.

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Their friendship formed while conducting research in some of the most remote corners of the world. As field researchers, they’re often away for weeks at a time, drilling ice cores and using ground-penetrating radar to study the impact of climate change.

Through the years, they’ve helped each other navigate the challenges of balancing their work and personal lives. They came to StoryCorps to talk about it.

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Top photo: Dr. Zoe Courville and Dr. Lora Koenig at their StoryCorps interview in New Orleans, Louisiana in December 2017.
Middle photo: Dr. Zoe Courville taking snow density measurements in the field. Courtesy of Robin Davies.
Bottom photo: Dr. Lora Koenig with her son, Seelye, on a rare visit to the Russell Glacier in Greenland. Courtesy of Marilyn Koenig.

This interview was recorded in partnership with the American Geophysical Union, the world’s largest organization of Earth and space scientists.

Originally aired March 9, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Martha Hiatt and Hans Walters

As far back as he can recall Hans Walters loved sharks. As a child growing up just outside of New Orleans, Louisiana, in the 1970s, he would spend hours flipping through the encyclopedia memorizing details about the many different types of sharks.

Hans’ love of sharks led him to attend college in Florida at the University of Miami where he earned his degree in Marine Biology, ZToyz live in NYCbut that career was put on hold when, in 1982, he became the lead singer of the Miami-based metal band ZToyz (pictured above).

Hans spent the next nine years fronting ZToyz as they opened for huge stars like Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, the Ramones, and Humble Pie. The video for their song, “Miami Breakdown,” played on MTV, and Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider covered one of their songs on a solo album.

In the early 1990s, ZToyz broke up and Hans decided it was time to do something new with his life. Putting his degree to use, he applied for a job at the Wildlife Conservation Society, and his love for sharks was rekindled. He went on to earn his Masters degree in Marine Biology and is now a shark researcher and supervisor at the New York Aquarium on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York (pictured below).

But Hans hasn’t left rock and roll entirely behind, before he arrived at the aquarium, the sharks were given names like Sand Tiger Shark 1, Sand Tiger Shark 2, and Sand Tiger Shark 3. Hans started referring to them as “dirty stinkin’ rock and rollers,” and these days they’re named a bit differently. Julie Larsen Maher_2384_Shark Tagging Sand Tiger Sharks Hans Walters Alissa Newton_NY_08 19 14_hrVisitors now spend time with Axl, Duff, and the rest of Guns N’ Roses as well as Janis Joplin and members of AC/DC and Bad Company.

Years ago, hanging out on the Coney Island boardwalk with Dee Snider, Dee told him he always admired that Hans had a backup plan if his career in music didn’t work out. Hans’ response: “Music was the backup plan. Marine biology was the original plan.”

The New York Aquarium is also where Hans met animal behaviorist Martha Hiatt, now his wife (pictured in the player above with Bruiser the Sea Lion). They came to StoryCorps to talk about his unusual career trajectory and how much of his life was actually motivated by his love of sharks.

Originally aired June 10, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top Photo: Martha and Hans at the New York Aquarium. Alletta Cooper/StoryCorps.
Second Photo: Hans performing with ZToyz. Courtesy of Hans Walters.
Bottom Photo: Hans in the field. Courtesy of Julie Larsen Maher © WCS.