WILBRAHAM – Brian Easler will be ushered in as the newest head of school
for Wilbraham & Monson Academy
during a formal convocation ceremony on Aug. 24, which will see John Cain Carter
, the founder of a Brazilian landowner-based conservation organization, taking the role as the ceremony’s guest speaker.
“John and I served together in the military back in the early 90s and in the Gulf War,” said Easler. “We were both member of a small six-man long range reconnaissance and surveillance team and you get really tight serving in that role together, sort of like brothers.”
After Carter’s military service in the United States Army, he founded Aliança da Terra
, an organization that works with farmers, ranchers, and indigenous people living near the Amazon rainforest to promote ethical land conservancy and offer economic incentives for rainforest conservation.
According to a press release from Wilbraham & Monson Academy, there are more than 700 members in Aliança da Terra and the organization covers 7.6 million acres in and near the Amazon rainforest. The group has also fought 135 wildfires and is currently building a firefighter-training center.
“Simply, the massive destruction I saw affected my soul and my conscience would not let sit idly by without trying to affect change,” Carter said in an exclusive e-mail interview with Reminder Publications
Carter said he witnessed thousands of miles of wildfires and deforestation every year while living on the Amazonian frontier. One thing he said he couldn’t stop thinking about during this time was a better way of human settlement in the region.
“I founded Aliança da Terra as the silver bullet solution for frontier expansion, based on boots on the ground experiences and not boardroom fundraising projects,” he added.
Carter has appeared on “Dateline NBC
” and the “Late Show with David Letterman
,” and has been featured in profile stories in magazines such as Time
, and Outside
During the last nine years, Easler said Carter has assisted with student trips to the Amazon River basin where students are flown in by small Cessna
planes, land on dirt strips, and spend three to four days with the indigenous Kamayurá people in the Xingu Preservation
“It’s a transformational experience really,” Easler said. “These are not performers, these are people living within their natural environment with their natural means and it’s honest and genuine and quite beautiful.”
Students have also worked with graduate students from Ivy League institutions on environmental studies within the Xingu region, he said.
The lesson for students is to see the effects of deforestation, as well as the contributing factor of agricultural progress for deforestation firsthand Easler said. Students also focus on the impact of deforestation on indigenous peoples in the region.
“I am not an environmentalist, never have been and never will be,” Carter said. “Don’t make the mistake of thinking that I do not like nature. As an outdoorsman and natural resource manager, I love nature and wildlife. That is why I moved to the southern Amazon.
“I am enthralled with raw wilderness and that is why I have dedicated my life to trying to foster a more sensible development model for the Amazon Basin,” he added.
Carter owns a 20,000 acre ranch near the Xingu and Amazon rivers in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso
where his typical day consists of getting up early, giving marching orders to staff for the day, and completing his tasks, he said.
“Daily tasks differ based on the season and work schedule,” added Carter. “However, every day someone is checking the cattle by horseback. In Brazil a lot of time is spent on bureaucratic tasks, exponentially more than producers in the U.S. have to deal with. Record keeping is a big deal.”
Carter grew up in Texas and he said from an early age his family members taught him how to hunt, hike, backpack, and do almost everything outdoors.
When he was 7 years old he said he learned how to shoot well. At 10 years old, he knew how to track wild game, and at 15 years old he was living off the land.
“The outdoors is how I am hard-wired,” he said. “There is a tremendous difference in the way folks who depend on the land look at conservation versus the way urban environmentalists treat the issue.”
Carter’s speech will focus on innate leadership abilities and character traits necessary to be a leader in addition to his personal experiences being led my Brian Easler in Iraq.
“He became what we as teachers strive to instill in our students, a true social entrepreneur,” Easler said. “He saw a problem and took it upon himself to come up with a solution.”