Engage the World

Picture of Peter Heegard Bechtel

Peter Heegard Bechtel '81

Major: Biology

What I love most about what I do: I have created three national parks and reserves in Mozambique, none of which would have existed were it not for my vision and the friends and colleagues who helped me bring them to reality.

The most challenging part of my work: Identifying common problems, interests and creative solutions that allow for conservation as well as satisfy the interests of a great number of stakeholders, from local fishermen to huge international mining corporations.

How Dickinson prepared me for what I do: Dickinson taught me how to research and think waaaaay outside the box.

My favorite activity at Dickinson: My independent study, “Allelopathy of Mosses”—especially the word independent. As in creativity and responsibility. That may be my favorite word.

The accomplishments I am most proud of today: My three national parks: Quirimbas National Park, Lake Niassa Reserve and Arquipélago das Ilhas Primeiras e Segundas Marine Reserve, the largest in the Indian Ocean.

What “engage the world” means to me: Turning and facing the problems that plague our planet and make the lives of billions of people and other creatures miserable. Bringing every ounce of intelligence, empathy, creativity and courage we have to solve them. It used to be an insult to be called a crusader, but at heart, I am one. I am simply not happy without something/someone to fight for.

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Published August 6, 2013