John Ripley Forbes Edit Profile
Special student, University Iowa, 1933-1934; special student, Bowdoin College, 1934-1935; Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary), Bowdoin College, 1987.
His museums were noted for their interactivity as children could often even borrow animals. Forbes appreciation for nature was fostered during time spent at his family's summer cottage on Birch Island in Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. As a child he also was a frequent visitor to the Boston Children's Museum, the Brooklyn Children's Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History.
As a teenager, Forbes befriended William T. Hornaday, a noted zoologist and conservationist. Hornaday worked at the Smithsonian Museum and was instrumental in developing the animal collections and exhibits that would later become the National Zoo. Hornaday was also responsible for the creation of the Bronx Zoo.
After retiring from the Bronx Zoo, Hornaday moved to Stamford, Connecticut. The teenage Forbes was a Boy Scout in Stamford at the time, and he approached Hornaday at his home after discovering a frog with a glowing belly during a troop hike. The two held a lengthy discussion to arrive at the conclusion that the frog had swallowed a firefly.
After completing high school, Forbes enrolled at the University of Iowa to study in their museum training program. He later briefly studied at the Boston School of Fine Arts before enrolling at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine where he studied for a year. In 1937, Forbes served as a scientist in the Arctic expedition of explorer Donald MacMillan.
Also in 1937, Forbes founded the William T. Hornaday foundation for children's museums which later became the Natural Science for Youth Foundation. Forbes was instrumental in the establishment of many prominent museums and nature centers including the Kansas City Museum of History and Science, Earthplace in Westport, Connecticut and the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell, Georgia. Later in his career, worried about rampant real-estate development, he shifted his attention towards conservation, and he founded the Southeast Land Preservation Trust in 1976.
He would subsequently establish several forest preserves.
Founder, president William T. Hornaday Memorial Trust, Connecticut, 1961-1977. Founder Mid-Fairfield County Youth Museum, Westport, Connecticut, 1958, president, 1963-1966, trustee for life, 1966. Founder American Association Youth Museum, 1964, honorary life member, 1976.
Co-founder, vice president Aspetuck Land Trust, Fairfield County. President St. John's on the Lake Association, New Hampshire, 1963-1964. President emeritus, trustee John and Anna Newton Porter Foundation, New Hampshire, 1974-1989.
Founder Outdoor Activity Center, Atlanta, chairman, 1977-1980. Founder Chattahoochee Nature Center, Roswell, Georgia, president, 1977-1978. Founder Reynolds Arboretum and Nature Preserve Morrow, Georgia, 1976.
Founder, president Lakes Region Conservation Trust, Meredith, New Hampshire, 1977. Founder Forbes Nature Center on Ragged Island Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, 1979. Trustee Hilla Von Rebay Foundation, 1968.
Trustee Milford (Pennsylvania) Reservation 1977, president 1977-1982 1983. Founder, president Natural Science Solar Center, Milford, Pennsylvania, 1983. Founder, trustee Cochran Mill Nature Center and Arboretum, Fairburn, Georgia, 1987.
Founder Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center, Alpharetta, Georgia, 1988. Founder, president Big Trees Forest Preserve, Sandy Springs, Georgia, 1984. Founder Camp Whitley at Lake Careco, Nature Center, Austell, Georgia, 1992.
Naturalist, lecturer on Bahia Paraiso, Argentine polar transport ship sunk near United States Palmer Base at Arthur Harbor, Antarctic Peninsula, 1989. Board member Environmental Advisory Commission State of Georgia, 1992-1994. With Medical Corps, United States Army Air Force, 1942-1945.
Member American Association Museum (chairman children's museum secretary 1965), National Audubon Society (life), American Nature Study Society, Nature Conservancy, Wilderness Society, American Ornithologist Union (life), New York Zoological Society, American Birding Association (life), National Wildlife Federation, Connecticut Conservation Association (president 1969-1970), Sierra Club, Audubon Society New Hampshire (president 1975) Clubs: Explorers (New York City). Mazamas (Portland, Oregon).
Married Margaret Sanders, December 10, 1951. Children: Ripley, Anne.