Name: Lori Baldwin Brown
Home: Charlotte Hall, Maryland
It was the late 1960s and my parents, who never went beyond grade school, sent me to college as a way for me to get a traditional woman’s job in teaching or nursing. After I completed a biology degree, I began exploring training in the health field. That all changed the day Jane Goodall came through on a lecture tour and spread the word she was looking for someone to come to Africa and work on her chimpanzee project.
I had grown up in a beach community in Southern California and still lived at home. I had never camped out, had no idea of wilderness living, never traveled outside California. But I had seen a National Geographic documentary on Goodall. I wrote to her and agreed to commit to working for two years at her research station in Tanzania.
Did I dare? I had never been on an airplane. I knew almost nothing about Africa. My first few nights in a tent in the Serengeti were sleepless, not because of lions or hyenas, but because there was a mouse somewhere under the tent floor scratching around. Those two years presented many new challenges, and each one dared me to go a step further. It changed me permanently, so that I still dare to make unconventional choices in life.