Skip to main content

Veteran Climate Rider Ivan Samuels’ Climate Action Through Bird Watching and Biking

When it comes to passions, Ivan Samuels knows how to multitask! Ivan is a veteran Climate Rider who participated in the California Green Fondo this year as well as seven other past rides. Not only does he put in the work for long-distance bike rides, but he also takes the opportunity to practice his passion for bird watching during the rides. The 2022 California Green Fondo just so happened to be held on the same day as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Global Big Day Bird Count. We learned more about what this day means and what motivates Ivan in our recent conversation with him. Climate Ride (CR): You have participated in quite a few Climate Rides! What makes you want to participate? Ivan Samuels (IS): Most of my philanthropy is focused on impact, but with Climate Ride it’s really about impact and community. We collectively support so many different organizations, but the rides bring us together as a community, and our bikes are ice breakers to share stories, passions, and even struggles. CR: Thank you for being a part of our community. What’s motivating each time you return for a ride? IS: Society at large has been a bit slow to grasp the significance of climate change, but I’m motivated by what I’m seeing now in a renewed urgency from both citizens and governments around the world. I am particularly motivated by nature-based solutions to climate change. CR: What field do you work in? IS: I work in philanthropy and conservation. CR: We know you are involved in the March Conservation Fund. When did you become involved in this and what has that experience been like for you? IS: I first became involved with March Conservation Fund in 2007. We support conservation organizations both locally and abroad, with a strong focus on tropical forests and birds. In addition to the critically important work to transition to renewable energy, we now know that nature-based solutions to climate change are a big part of the solution too. That means both keeping forests standing, and in some cases ecological management of forests and other habitats to build resilience and restore ecosystem function. March Conservation Fund has been investing in NGO partners to achieve those goals, while also helping make nature accessible for all. CR: We are inspired by your commitment to nature and climate. Can you tell us about how you tie together your love for birding and cycling in your Climate Rides, including Cornell Global Big Day during your experience at Green Fondo? IS: Green Fondo 2022 was a bit different for me as one of the days coincided with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Global Big Day bird count. But it turned out our Green Fondo route went through ideal birding habitat, so I spent a great deal of time listening to bird song and submitting my observations to eBird, their signature citizen science program. And that day was a MASSIVE citizen science effort with 51,455 birders submitting 132,350 checklists from 201 countries that collectively tallied 7,673 species of birds, which is nearly 3/4 of all bird species in the entire world!!! All of that happened on May 14th. I’m proud that Climate Ride could be part of that, even if it slowed my riding down. PS, birding by bike is a great alternative to birding by car if you want to hear all the bird songs around you. CR: That is so interesting and exciting that you were making an impact not only for the organizations you support through your rides but also in birding! When experiencing nature in the area you live in, have you noticed specific effects of climate change? IS: The primary effects are through an extended fire season in California, where I live, but more subtle effects on habitats and agricultural landscapes are now readily apparent. CR: Which beneficiaries have you chosen to support through Climate Ride and why? IS: This year I supported The Climate Center, as they are leaders in the effort to keep California one of the most progressive states when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But on many past Climate Rides, I have often directed my giving towards bicycle advocacy, like The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Bike East Bay. CR: Thank you for your continued support! Are there any personal challenges you’ve confronted or foresee in preparing for your rides? How did/will you overcome them? IS: Not really, as I ride regularly and even the hills of San Francisco do not intimidate me, but I must say it’s hard to find the energy to set up your tent after a century ride! CR: Has preparing for and participating in this event spurred you to take any action on climate (personal, locally, or nationally)? IS: I regularly take action in various ways and feel the support we provide to so many organizations through March Conservation Fund is significant action itself. But more than anything else, Climate Ride inspires me to use my bike for every local trip I possibly can. CR: Thank you so much for devoting your life to conservation and climate action! If you’d like to support Ivan’s efforts on his recent Green Fondo ride, you can do that here. Thanks to the Algorand Foundation, all donations will be matched until we hit $2.5 million!