10 Things: The Conservationist
Written By Carrie Edelstein
Photography By Diane Anderson
“I went to Busch Gardens as a little girl, feeding hippos in Tampa and spending time in the nursery to see baby animals in winter time almost every weekend January to April,” Virginia Busch explains about growing up in the Busch family. She travelled with her dad, August Busch III, there for work. Her passion for wildlife was ignited, quickly becoming a way of life.
“It was a very unique childhood and of course left a lasting impression on me,” Busch says. During the week, the family lived on a farm in St. Peters, where Busch says they didn’t have livestock, but lots of animals like goats, horses, cats and dogs and, “anything that would find its way to our house.” She says, “Living out in a place where you have a lot of land and you’re kind of in nature I think that was definitely something important that speaks to me. I love to be out in nature and solitude. It’s my recharge.”
After working with Anheuser-Busch SeaWorld and Busch Gardens and serving as a wildlife ambassador, traveling to zoos and animal organizations to talk about conservation, Busch established the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. She spent years giving out grants across the nation before moving into her current role seeking donations and promoting wildlife conservation as executive director at Endangered Wolf Center in West St. Louis County. Busch also volunteers as a board member for World Wildlife Fund and Wild Earth Allies, an organization that’s particularly hands-on with elephants and sea turtles.
10 Things I Cannot Live Without:
1) Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. “I had the most amazing cup of coffee in Arusha, Kenya, and I’ve been seeking that same cup of coffee for about 15 years.”
2) Family: “I have two wonderful children, an amazing husband and a gaggle of furred and feathered family members.” Side note: She gets to take work home, sometimes in the form of Daisy the fennec fox.
3) Elephants (Of course wolves are right up there, too). “Going to Africa for the first time, seeing those elephants in the Maasai Mara [National Reserve in Kenya] move down from the hills and do their journey single file out in the fields and then go back up in the evening it’s this sort of natural rhythm… To see that it’s something that’s beyond society and it’s something we must preserve. This rhythm of life we have to seek… it’s greater than us, it’s greater than the human race.”
4) Life-long girlfriends.
5) Travel: “It’s what brings perspective into one’s life.”
6) Learning: “There is always one more topic, idea, or technique to learn.”
7) Hawaiian sunsets.
8) Wild places and wildlife.
9) Food: “I’m a bit of a foodie. I’m either wooing my husband at home with my cooking or we are out exploring the many culinary options that St. Louis offers.”
10) Laughter. Busch says it’s a cliché, but adds, “Life without joy and laughter would be a tragedy.”