Tom Schaefer

Praise for Nature’s People

Polly Longsworth

Dickinson scholar

Author of Austin & Mabel: The Amherst Affair and Love Letters of Austin Dickinson and Mabel Loomis Todd

Let me praise Tom Schaefer’s extensive work, thoroughness, and encompassing scope of his beloved subject.  He has included, via extensive interviews, much lively observation by those participating in the adventure called the Hog Island Audubon Camp, over its long history.  Plus he’s told the Todd-Bingham story well and in some depth. This is a grand history, full of facts and explanations one rarely finds in such a survey of an institution.

Thank you, dear Tom, for carrying the torch of Emily Dickinson into new territory.

I’m very proud of your long persistence, and of having had a small role in the process…  Yours is a fine persistence and achievement. Congratulations for making sure this piece of history isn’t forgotten….  There are great stories embedded here that shouldn’t be lost, and now won’t be.

Steven W. Kress

National Audubon Society Vice President for Bird Conservation retired
Hog Island Audubon Camp director retired

Author of Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock

Tom Schaefer has given Hog Island enthusiasts, and those who have yet to visit, a deep dive into the lives and thinking of the Hog Island Audubon Camp’s founders. His thorough research brings to life the challenges and personalities of the people who made the camp a thriving reality that continues to captivate not only educators and birders, but also environmental leaders, naturalists, teens, and families in ever-widening circles.

Frank Graham, Jr.

Long time field editor for Audubon magazine

Author of The Audubon Ark: The Story of the National Audubon Society

Here, in Nature’s People, Tom Schaefer produces a book that pulls together a slate of humanity’s most gratifying interests: poetry, science, nature education, the successful conservation of wildlife, and (let’s say it) social misbehavior. How is Emily Dickinson linked to puffins? Read all about it. And this delighted reader, whose professional and recreational lives were lastingly altered by his own immersion in the Audubon Camp in Maine, has finally learned the full engrossing history behind that remarkable institution. Bravo!

Scott Weidensaul

Friends of Hog Island President Bird Watcher’s Digestregular contributor

Author of Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding and A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds

Nature’s People is a delight, well-written and engaging, and of course an absolute gold mine for someone like me who loves Hog Island. Sincerest congratulations on a superb job.

Julie Dobrow

Dickinson and Todd Bingham scholar

Author of After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America’s Greatest Poet

It is clear Tom Schaefer has put a lot of effort into this endeavor, as well as a lot of love for a very special place. The manuscript is strongest in recounting of Hog Island — its history, the Todds’ time on it, and especially the formation of the Audubon Camp and the trajectory since its beginnings. He has woven together a lot of interesting information from a variety of sources, offering readers something new.

Art Borror

Long-time Audubon Camp staff

From the opening quotations to the historical set of illustrations, a major work of which you certainly should be proud. My very best wishes for your final assembling of the masterwork that provides history, insight, and personality to the Todd-Bingham-Audubon saga of a most important island. Well done!

Juanita Roushdy

Friends of Hog Island Executive Director

For all who love Hog Island and its camp, Nature’s People is a must read. It was hard to put down. All the praise is due. I was only planning to read chapter 7 but just took a quick look at the first chapter and continued through to the last chapter. I even read all the footnotes which I found to be a trove of information both scintillating and informative!

Ted Gilman

Greenwich Audubon Center & Hog Island Audubon Camp naturalist retired

Tom Schaefer’s recounting Hog Island’s story is obviously a labor of love for the story itself, plus the impressive listing of resources shows the amazing amount of research completed via extensive interviews and substantial work with archives to be able to present this detailed account. Tom’s long years of personal investment in this work show good effort.

James M. Hughes

Dickinson scholar & poet

Nature’s People is a wonderful summary of the Hog Island’s importance. Tom Schaefer has underlined the impact that one woman had on both the Emily Dickinson canon and Hog Island. Mabel Loomis Todd is certainly one of the most important figures in American culture because of the two wonderful persons (Austin Dickinson and Emily Dickinson) and the place that she loved.

Paul Knoop, Jr.

Aullwood Audubon Center & Farm Education Director retired

The more I read and reread Nature’s People the more astounding it is to me that Tom Schaefer has written such a thorough and fascinating history of Hog Island and the people involved in its preservation and maintenance. There is human drama here as well as underlying themes that cover conservation, environmental education, wildlife, and aesthetic values. I have spent time on this small bit of exceptional landscape and no one is more qualified to write the Hog Island story than Tom Schaefer. Tom’s meticulous research, personal experience, and unbounded passion make this a story for the ages.

David Klinger

Friends of Hog Island former president

Hog Island, long regarded as the “mother church” of American conservation, played an equally storied role — heretofore largely unknown — in American literary tradition. Tom Schaefer has skillfully unlocked the secrets of both worlds, played out on a little Maine island that continues to captivate all who walk its rockbound shores and forest paths.

Betsy Hughes

Educator & poet

Great storytelling. A fascinating narrative. Not just the love story of Mabel Loomis Todd and Austin Dickinson, but all of the anecdotal stories which are told so vividly. Tom Schaefer’s own way of phrasing things makes for avid reading of the narrative. Even the financial problems and conflicts between state office and National Audubon were rendered compelling. I absolutely love this book and know that other readers will love it, too.

Phyllis M. Kittel

Benedictine University (Chicago) dean retired

Author of Staying In the Fire: A Sisterhood Responds to Vatican II

There is a unique spirit and vision that led Mabel Loomis Todd and a few other Northeasterners to recognize and conserve precious parts of the natural world. Upon reading Nature’s People, I realized that my husband’s parents, in settling on their two-hundred acres in Austerlitz, New York, were motivated by that same spirit. Today descendants work to keep the rural estate as parents left it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the island itself, the Todds, and the others who made it happen. Nature’s People is a great story.

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