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Mentoring, being mentored, foster life success

This photo, of Steve Maanum and his dad, depicts Steve's early outdoors experiences enriched by a father who encouraged and mentored his love of nature. (Submitted photo)

On Jan. 23 I wrote about Lily - the world-famous pregnant black bear being monitored by Ely. The birth of a black bear cub had never been filmed in the wild and on Friday, Jan. 22, with thousands of people watching on their computer screens, Lily delivered a single cub.

I hope some of you had the chance to see it and I also hope you continue to take time to check out her web site at www.

She is now catching up on some well deserved sleep and her cub, as noisy as it is, spends time nursing and staying warm in the comforts of its mother's fur coat.

Lily reminded me of how captivating nature's daily occurrences are to people of all ages. If you have a Facebook account, how many friends or fans do you have? As of this writing, Lily has almost 75,000 fans. It was a camera, Lynn Rogers, Doug Hajicek, and a very dedicated staff that made it all possible.

Our three-year old grandson was so mesmerized by watching Lily that he was up at 5:30 on Jan. 22 just to see her before he went to daycare. Then, because of his insistence, the daycare providers logged into Lily's web site so they could all watch.

Over the years, what has been the most fascinating thing you have seen in nature?

Dad introduced me to hunting and fishing at an early age. My stepgrandfather provided me with my first photography training. My scout leader, the professional photographer in our town, nurtured me in nature studies, as well as photography. I once read, "We become a small part of those who have made a positive impression on us." I think I am living proof of that statement.

Of all the people who influenced my life, those three men were the most important mentors I can remember. Without their willingness to take time for me, I'm not sure I would be checking Lily's web site, or placing remote cameras in wood duck nesting boxes, or photographing wildlife, or writing, or finding ways to share it with others.

Mentors have provided me with my training and direction and nature has provided me with a lifetime of memories. One of those memories had to do with a ruffed grouse that chased cars. Another was of a loon family that adopted a mallard duckling. I will always remember the smile on my face as our own two kids sat in a photo blind and watched baby wood ducks leap from their nesting box and I'll always remember the satisfaction I felt every time we connected students to nature through hands-on activities.

Rachel Carson said, "If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."

Who was your mentor? Who are you a mentor for?

Steve Maanum can be reached at sdmaanum@