Debbie Miller is an author, journalist, teacher, Arctic explorer and conservationist. Her book, Midnight Wilderness: Journeys in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, describes the natural and political history of America's wildest refuge. Miller has hiked well over 1,000 miles through this great wilderness, and her book offers an in-depth account based on these explorations. President Jimmy Carter, who visited Miller in the Arctic Refuge, wrote that Midnight Wilderness captures the "beauty, vastness, and wildlife heritage, but more importantly, it addresses the significance of protecting this national treasure for future generations."
Miller moved to Alaska in 1975, and she lived and taught in Arctic Village, an Athabaskan Gwich'in Indian village located on the southern boundary of the Refuge. One of the most isolated Indian tribes in America, the Athabaskan Gwich'in Indians have maintained their culture, language and subsistence traditions. While she learned about this extraordinary people intimately connected to the wilderness and wildlife of Alaska, she also had the opportunity to explore and write about one of the greatest wilderness areas remaining on Earth.
As a journalist, Miller has written many essays and articles about the Arctic region. Highlights include:
"Ground Zero," appearing in the Amicus Journal, was nominated for a 2001 National Press Award in environmental reporting. Her research took her to the remote Eskimo village of Nuiqsut where she documented the oil spills, air pollution, and health problems resulting from oil development.
Her essay "Clinging to an Arctic Homeland" was published in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land by outdoor and nature photographer Subhankar Banerjee. Seasons of Life and Land won the 2004 Independent Publishers Award for books relating to the environment. Miller's contribution offers unique perspectives on life in the Inupiat village of Kakovik as well as in Arctic Village.
Her "Songs from Around the World" was included in Arctic Wings: Birds of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It describes a two-week 75-mile trek through the Sadlerochit Mountains and across the sensitive coastal plain region of the Arctic Refuge that is proposed for oil and gas development. Miller studied songbirds that migrate to the Arctic Refuge from five continents and encountered bears, wolves, and other Arctic wildlife.
Miller was honored with the Refuge Hero Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for her nature writing and for her education and conservation efforts. She has worked to protect the Arctic Refuge for two decades, and is a founding board member of the Alaska Wilderness League. She has traveled to Washington three times to testify before Congress about the wonders and extraordinary value of the Arctic Refuge, and about why it is a place worth saving for the world.
In addition to her writing for adults, she is also the author of several award-winning nature books for children, illustrated by wildlife artists Jon and Daniel Van Zyle. Her books - A Caribou Journey, Flight of the Golden Plover, River of Life, Are Trees Alive?, The Great Serum Race, A Woolly Mammoth Journey, Disappearing Lake, A Polar Bear Journey, and Big Alaska - have won awards from the National Science Teachers Association, the International Reading Association, and the American Library Association. Her book Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights received the 2003 John Burroughs Nature Book for Young Readers Award.
Miller has been a featured speaker about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at numerous venues, including the California Academy of Sciences, the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, and at Chicago's world-renowned Field Museum of Natural History. She has also been a featured speaker at a variety of educational conferences, such as the International Reading Association and the Ohio State Literature Conference.
Her speaking topics include:
Why we should not drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for what amounts to a few months of oil. On the basis of personal experience in both the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay and on the pristine coastal plain where oil development is proposed, Miller explores this contentious issue. From her observations and from discussions with Inupiat Eskimos and Athabaskan Gwich'in Indians, she describes vividly the oil spills, air pollution, and health problems that often follow in the footsteps of oil development.
Natural beauty and adventure in the Refuge and in the Alaskan wilderness. Miller is a veteran of numerous explorations of the Arctic, and her personal experiences, from tens of thousands of caribou surrounding her tent to watching her one-year old daughter converse with a wolf, have been extraordinary. Beautiful slides of Refuge and Alaskan wildlife may be included or featured as desired.
Why environmental education is vital. Valuing nature is critically important if our remaining great wilderness areas are to be preserved, and she speaks about how to inspire appreciation of and respect for our natural environment. Her presentation includes stories and slides about experiences and discoveries in Alaska's wilderness, and she explains how these have motivated and inspired her to write nature books for both children and adults.
School programs on the Alaskan wilderness. Using her books, her slides and her stories, Miller makes the Alaskan Refuge and wilderness come alive for school assemblies and special programs. Whether your school is in Florida or Kansas, Ohio or California, there are bird species in your schoolyard that fly to the Arctic to nest and raise their young. She explains how birds connect all of us to the Arctic wilderness.
Videos are available here, and information about her books is available here. To explore engaging Debbie Miller as a speaker, contact her here. For the most up-to-date information about Debbie, visit her website here.
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