The World Wildlife Fund in RussiaThis evening I went to the Center for Russian Culture at Amherst College to hear Laura Williams [bio in Russian] talk about her work for the World Wildlife Fund in Russia.
Williams arrived in Moscow in 1993, where she assisted in opening the first WWF office in Russia. Four years later she moved to a thoroughly rural area the region of the Bryansk Forest Nature Reserve, about 300 miles southwest of Moscow. There she worked as a specialist in ecological education and met Igor Shpilenok, a nature photographer who spearheaded creation of the reserve in 1984. Williams and Shpilenok married in 1999 and now have two sons, Andrei and Makar.
photo by Igor Shpilenok
In 2006 Williams, Shpilenok, and their children moved to the Kamchatka peninsula to open the WWF Kamchatka/Bering ecoregional office. With this mission accomplished, they intend in the next few months to move back to their house in the tiny village of Chukhrai, just outside the Bryansk Forest Reserve.
You can read more about Williams' experiences in her just-published book, The Storks' Nest: Life and Love in the Russian Countryside.