A fresh face for the $20?

By Trust for Public Land
Published March 30, 2015

A fresh face for the $20?

If you’re an NPR listener, you might have caught this recent story about a group of activists hoping to shake up the all-male lineup of historical figures who appear on U.S. paper currency. They’re hoping for a fresh face on the $20 bill by the year 2020—the hundredth anniversary of the 19th Amendment. (A little fuzzy on your American history? That’s the one that granted women the right to vote.)  

The founders of Women on 20s have nominated 15 candidates to break up the boys’ club of currency, each a leader in her field. But of course, at The Trust for Public Land we’re partial to environmentalists: if we had to pick just one of the accomplished women from the list, it’d be biologist and writer Rachel Carson. 

Carson is best known as the author of Silent Spring, which exposed the growing danger of unchecked pesticide use. First published in 1962, the book drew scathing criticism from industry leaders. Nevertheless, Carson’s tireless advocacy helped bring about lasting policy changes, including a nationwide ban on DDT.

More than 50 years after it was written, the book is credited with helping launch the modern environmental movement. Silent Spring is so important, in fact, that it’s easy to miss that Carson was blazing trails for women long before it was ever published. She was one of the first female scientists to work for the Bureau of Fisheries, and later served as editor in chief for the Fish and Wildlife Service. She was a meticulous researcher, but one who knew the natural world is valuable beyond measure.

“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.”—Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

If it’s inspiring to learn about the leaders of the past, it’s just as exciting to know there are more environmental icons in the making. Have your own nomination for a woman who belongs on the $20 bill? Leave a comment here, or tell us on Facebook!

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