Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks has been called "the Jimmy Stewart of this generation." As trustee of The Nature Conservancy's Idaho chapter he filmed a public service announcement urging others to join the organization. Hanks, who often vacations in Idaho with his family, attributes his love of the great outdoors to a childhood spent in northern California, where he had easy access to towering redwoods, dramatic coastlines and a wide array of natural beauty. View Hanks' announcement.
Born in California, Tom Hanks grew up in what he calls a fractured family. His parents were pioneers in the development of marriage dissolution law in that state, and Hanks moved around a lot, living with a succession of step-families. No problems, no abuse, no alcoholism -- just a confused childhood. While attending California State University in Sacramento, Hanks performed onstage in "The Cherry Orchard." His professional acting career started in Cleveland, where he interned with the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival.
After moving to New York, Hanks landed his break-out role in the hit TV show "Bosom Buddies" (1980), and film offers followed. He scored top billing in movies such as "Bachelor Party" (1984), "Splash" (1984), "Nothing in Common" (1986), "Punchline" (1988), and "Big" (1988), earning increasing acclaim as his career progressed. He became the first actor in 50 years to win back-to-back Best Actor Academy Awards for "Philadelphia" in 1993 and "Forrest Gump" in 1994.
In 1996 he took his first step behind the camera, directing as well as starring and writing the film "That Thing You Do!" Hanks also challenged himself by serving as executive producer for HBO's ambitious 12-hour series "From the Earth to the Moon" in 1998. In 2001 he directed the acclaimed series "Band of Brothers."
Hanks met his second wife, actress Rita Wilson, on the set of the movie "Volunteers" (1985). They have two children, and Hanks has another son and daughter by his first wife, Samantha Lewes.
Hanks' childhood had a big influence on his love and respect for the outdoors. As a boy, Hanks would often spend his days biking on riverbeds and arroyos. He realizes now how much he took for granted having the natural world so close at hand. It wasn't until he moved away, first to New York and then to Los Angeles, that he realized how much he missed the outdoors.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading international nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy works in all 50 U.S. states and 27 countries and has protected more than 117 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of river around the world. It also operates more than 100 marine conservation projects in 21 countries and 22 U.S. states.
The Nature Conservancy has developed a strategic, science-based planning process, called Conservation by Design, which helps identify the highest-priority places—landscapes and seascapes that, if conserved, promise to ensure biodiversity over the long term. Worldwide, these precious places form something extraordinary: a vision of conservation success and a roadmap for getting there—the Conservation Blueprint. By protecting and managing these "Last Great Places" over the long term, the Nature Conservancy can secure the future of the natural world.
Are you interested in helping the environment, or working with others who share your love of nature? If so, the Nature Conservancy has many great opportunities for you. You can donate online or volunteer. Visit their "How You Can Help" page for even more exciting and active ways to protect nature.
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