Interview with Dr. George Sardina
Dr. George Sardina is a retired physician who has traveled to nearly every corner of the world – 300 countries and counting. As a doctor, he treated climbers in the Himalayas and migrant farm workers in the Central Valley. Orphaned at age three, he grew up in a children’s home in upstate New York, winning full scholarships to Colombia’s college and medical school. After earning his M.D., he hitchhiked from New York’s Holland Tunnel to California, stopping at hospitals across the country searching for the right medical facility to complete his residency. He found his place at Los Angeles General Hospital and California has been home ever since. On his first night in the Golden State, he slept under a giant redwood. Today, preserving these majestic beauties and helping to conserve the mountains, plains, beaches and deserts of his new home state is his passion. He also intends it to be his legacy. “I want to do some good when I’m gone,” he said.
How did you first fall in love with the natural world?
“I grew up in an orphanage in upstate New York. It was a ranch, and I spent time caring for the animals. I learned at an early age that I was the happiest when I was out in nature. As a child, I saw great powers in this universe. I’m 85-years-old now, and I still feel that sense of wonder.”
Where do you like to spend your time outdoors? Tell us about your favorite park or trail.
“I’ve traveled to every country on the planet except six and have found special places wherever I go. I’m a student of the world. As a child, I used to go hiking in the woods and I would see signs that said the property was donated to a land trust. I thought, “These are wonderful people who literally gave something so others have a chance to enjoy the land’s beauty. It later inspired my own giving.”
What is your passion?
“My passion is to respect all of life’s gifts and to live and enjoy it as fully as I can.
How did you first hear about The Trust for Public Land?
“When I first started donating to environmental organizations I kept hearing about The Trust for Public Land. I started following their work and was very impressed with the tenacity and smarts of the conservationists there. These staffers never give up, and they have succeeded in saving so many properties that would have been developed and destroyed. The Trust for Public Land is the organization where you go to get it done.”
What is your top environmental priority? Conservation? Climate? Biodiversity? Equity? Health? Recreation?
“My conservation priorities are very clear. I want to preserve the landscapes of California which I consider to be some of the most beautiful and varied landscapes in the world. California is an unbelievable smorgasbord of deserts, valleys, mountains and beaches with incredible biodiversity.”
What sets The Trust for Public Land apart from other environmental organizations?
“The staff works really hard to understand what needs to happen to accomplish their goals. They have very high standards and obviously love the work they do. It shows in their successes.”
How would you describe The Trust for Public Land to a friend who has never heard about us?
“You might not see their work on signs, but The Trust for Public Land’s work is everywhere. They have succeeded in saving many properties that development would have destroyed. If you want to conserve land, you go to The Trust for Public Land.”
If you won the lottery, what would you do with your winnings?
“I would donate a large portion to the preservation of nature. I would consider it to be a wonderful investment.”