Tuesday, May 26, 2015

College Daze: Pete Stone. The man. The myth. The Biggest Clemson Football Fan We Know

Pete Stone not only has the best dance moves in the southeast, but as a 2003 Clemson graduate is the biggest Clemson Football fan we know. Pete has coined the term "save our mascot" and has been involved with T4T on and off for the past several years. In addition, he has been filming an ongoing documentary on Tigers for Tigers since 2013. Sit down and buckle up because this is the best "College Daze" post yet!

Pete Stone in his "college daze"

C: Describe your college experience in 3 words:

P: Absurd, Adventurous, Ambidextrous.  

C: Unfortunately not everyone has been able to experience a REAL college football game day. Could you please explain what a college football game day is like?  

P: Words can do no justice to the glory that is College football just as words fail to capture the highest spiritual ecstasies of life, so must the energy of college football be experienced to be explained.   The words of Shakespeare, the poetry of Maya Angelou, the beauty of a Rembrandt, the melodies of B.B. King, must all be experienced to truly catch a glimpse of the Divine connection that flows through these phenomena and speak to us about the beauty of life and the energy of love.  Rubbing the rock, running down the hill,  the roar from a sea of orange as an immortal glides towards the end zone of history are all on the same fixture as the majesty of a waterfall or the boundless rolling waves upon the ocean’s surface. In a word, game day is – magical, but only if Clemson wins….

C: How would you describe tailgating at Clemson?

P: Tailgating is a way of life at Clemson.  In fact, so grand is tailgating at Clemson that outsiders might mistake the tailgate as the day’s main event. Although as great as it is, it is still merely a build up to and celebration afterwards of the main course of the Tiger’s football game, unlike the Gamecocks’ fan base, where due to lack of real football, tailgating actually is the main event.  More accurately for Gamecocks, tailgating is a method of pregame sedation, and when it starts wearing off in the third quarter, they awaken to realize they’re not Alabama, they flood back towards the concrete jungle to again drown their sorrows away and escape to their curtail riding SEC worship.  Although Clemson only tailgates to complement the larger event of the game itself, we’re still two time back-to-back winner of the Southern Living top tailgating school in the nation award!

Young Pete with brother at Danny Ford game in late 80's, and then with brother at ACC championship game in 2011.  
As for me, I cannot enjoy tailgating until after the day’s battle has been fought in the valley; there is too much pre-game anxiety. Death Valley got its reputation for a reason, it takes being all in to generate the kind of noise that is Clemson loud and shake the south land. After the game though, tailgating is like the victory meal at a mead hall from warrior days of old where you relive the day’s highlights and relish with fellow tigers the thrill of victory.

C: It's easy to get conservationists involved with saving tigers, but we're working on tapping into those passionate fans to get involved as well. Why it is important to get college football fans engaged in saving the tiger?

P: My first answer to why Clemson football fans should save the tiger is because we can.  Clemson fans could be the difference in the world determining if the tiger survives in the wild.  What a legacy to send across the nation and world.  What better way to continue the legacy of our ancestors and pass it onward to our children?  Clemson is saving the iconic majestic creature of the animal kingdom from extinction while South Carolina eats their mascot at Bojangles. 
Something about college football tradition connects us to generations past and future. We talk about the great moments that elevated our spirits and of past players like Greek poets spoke of their Olympians. Somehow we hash out the great metaphors of life with the team on the field and find hope to face our own lives with a collective, tenacious, and triumphant spirit.  Needless to say we have pride in our mascot and what it stands for.  Our tiger mascot, which has represented the icon of our Saturday afternoon passion, now needs us to represent them in their fight for survival.  Furthermore, the tiger being an apex predator and king of the jungle means as Gandhi says, “Where tigers live well, everyone lives well.”  In short, by protecting tigers, we are protecting the jungle itself, the people of the area, and the world as a whole. 

Clemson can prove that we are one of the best things to happen to the world.  Too often environmental concerns become a partisan issue, a left versus right thing.  The issue becomes an attack on one group or another.  The issue of there being fewer than 3,200 tigers in the wild needing to be saved is thankfully not a politically polarizing issue; it is one that the majority of people already agree we need to do something about.  Furthermore, Clemson, LSU, Auburn, and Mizzou and more have the answer of what can be done, we can embrace what we are best at, our passion for the tiger and use that passion to literally save our mascot from becoming extinct in the wild and confined merely to a cage like the mascot of our rivals.  The tiger’s iconic image of king of the jungle is important to our image; Indeed, the tiger paw of Clemson could become both an international symbol for football and the force that saved the tigers for everyone 

C: Couldn't have answered that last question better myself! So how did you get involved with T4T?

P: My involvement with T4T came in a roundabout way.  I have bled orange my entire life; I was small in the late 80’s, but still old enough to know that Saturday was “Coach Ford’s day” and Sunday was the Lord ’s Day.   Once a student at Clemson, my classes enriched me with a deep understanding of the extreme humanitarian crises occurring in our world that are very preventable.  In this state, football is king, the passion a thing of beauty.  Likewise, I formed a belief and faith in my Clemson family that if we could put forth that much effort towards football, then we could also unite and harness that energy to be a leader for additional positive changes in the world.  In my senior year, I ran for student body president with this as my platform.  Of course being a senior, I knew that even if I somehow won that I wouldn’t be around since I was graduating.  The comedian part of me wanted to win so my first official act as president could be to resign from office.  I figured I had little chance anyway since I had always avoided student government like the plague, but hoped the attention to the campaign could also bring about attention to pushing the Clemson fan base to unite its passion for various humanitarian efforts.  I was ultimately kicked out of the race for illegally putting signs in trees and when they caught on I wasn’t going to be around the next year anyway. 

Pete at the 1st National T4T Summit in 2013 at Clemson
After graduating and cleaning out old boxes, I rediscovered a tiger flyer I received at a Clemson football game as a kid in the late 90’s.  The flyer talked about Tigers going extinct.  Anyhow, I decided the cause so natural for Clemson to save its mascot from extinction that we could be a game changer for the Tiger.  Especially at that time, Exxon mobile ironically was one of the largest supporters of Tigers and their contributions were nothing compared to what Clemson has the power to unleash.  I formed this idea called “save our mascot” and wanted to make Clemson open dates be changed on the schedule to read ‘Clemson vs. Extinction.”  I figured this printed on all the schedules with links online to a website about what Clemson was doing to save tigers could be huge.  I e-mailed President Barker who e-mailed me back about Dr. Tonkyn and the already existing T4T group.  I was thrilled the ball was already rolling with a group.  I was perplexed that I knew nothing about it while at Clemson, guess that’s what happens to philosophy majors, in our own world. Anyway, I worked in 2007 with Dr. Tonkyn and T4T on a Clemson vs Extinction campaign in which we got Coach Bowden involved with a PSA and raffled Tiger art at.  Thus, it obviously dawned on me in 2007 that the little flyer I got about tigers while in middle school back in 1996 or 1997 must have been from Takako and T4T crew back when they were getting started!

C: What advice would you give to T4T members and leaders?

P: My advice for other T4T members and leaders is to have fun!  Saving the world is a joyous event.  We will pass through this world but once, let us do so not trudging through it depressed and full of gloom but full of joy.  It’s a privilege to do this work, to be a tiger and protect tigers! Keep your message simple and positive.  Let fans know that it is not an either/or decision, to either support football or support saving the tiger; rather, combined. These two ideologies strengthen each other.  Simply inform others that Clemson can be the difference that saves our mascot from going extinct in the wild as fewer than 3,200 remain.  Ask them to join the fight with the Clemson family and work together to (simple focus of the cause at time) save tigers!


On behalf of everyone involved with T4T, many thanks to Pete for everything he's done for Tigers for Tigers and continues to do! (That includes entertaining us on the dance floor.)

If you would like to learn more about what YOU can do & how you can get involved, visit our website here. Of course, follow us on Twitter & likes us on Facebook!

Go Tigers!

Carrah Lingo
Communications Associate

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tigers for Tigers Helps to Bring Conservation Practitioners Together

Participants pose for a picture at Land of the Leopard
At the intersection of big predators and people, conflicts arise that disrupt communities and livelihoods. Whether we are talking about wolves in Jackson Hole, Wyoming or tigers in the Russian Far East, successful conservation programs require solutions that mitigate human-wildlife conflicts, empower local people and build community resiliency.

This past fall, with the assistance of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, Tigers for Tigers became involved in a working group of conservation experts from the US and Russia, under the Eurasia Foundation’s US-Russia Social Expertise Exchange Program to share best practices and to determine practical solutions regarding critters with big teeth.

Alyona Salmanova, Deputy Dir. of Science for Land of the Leopard, talks about the park
Earlier this year, we invited our Russian colleagues from Russian Protected Areas to Montana and Wyoming to meet with staff at the Blackfoot Challenge, a collective of ranchers and government officials, and visited National Elk Refuge in Wyoming. We recently returned from our trip to the Russian Far East where we visited Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve and Land of the Leopard. As a result of the project, our working group is designing three different brochures for local communities to address human-wildlife conflicts with wolves, bears and tigers. It was truly an incredible experience! 

The biggest takeaway from both of these experiences is that perceived conflicts and fears are real problems and whether or not they actually exist, they need to be addressed. If we do not recognize the concerns of our communities, our conservation efforts may be in jeopardy even if the science is sound. Cooperative decision-making with all stakeholders and establishing effective partnerships are key to empowering people. We need to communicate with people on their terms in order to be effective.

Annastasia Kirilyuk sniffs a fresh tiger pug mark in Sikhote-Alin.
As we are learning how to mobilize and empower students through T4T, this was a great learning opportunity for us. For example, there is no “one size fits all” solution to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts with grizzly bears. There is no “one size fits all” solution to recruit students at every campus. As we grow and develop the coalition, we need to recognize different cultures, previous successes and learn from each other. Sharing best practices, whether it is between conservation practitioners or between T4T clubs, will help us grow exponentially. Refuges and protected areas provide constituents with inspiring opportunities to get outside, break down barriers and learn about their backyard. T4T wishes to do the same by providing students exposure to conservation through our activities and national events.

We hope there will be more opportunities in the near future to work with our Russian and US colleagues and to share those experiences with our members and all of you.

All the best,


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Elephants, Tigers and Rhinos, Oh My.

By: Emily Paciolla, Communications Associate, Refuge Association

Have you ever seen a tiger in the wild? How about an elephant? If not, would you ever want to? If we do not act now to protect these iconic species, you might not ever get the chance.

Did you know…

Tiger skins
  • Ivory poachers have killed more than 100,000 African elephants since 2012. In Cameroon, poachers used grenades to slaughter over 300 elephants in one day.
  • During 2014, 1,200 were killed in South Africa--that’s one every 13 hours! Rhino horns sell for more than $50,000 per kilo. Overall, illegal wildlife trafficking generates more than $19 billion per year, ranking alongside illegal drugs, small arms, and human trafficking as one of the world’s top criminal activities.
  • The leading causes of tiger population declines are poaching, habitat loss, prey depletion, and disease. A tiger needs to eat about 50 deer-sized prey each year, meaning habitat loss affects all species from predator to prey.

African and Asian elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, gibbons, orangutans and marine turtles are only some of the important species protected by the Multinational Species Conservation Fund.

All of these charismatic creatures are threatened or endangered. Poaching, habitat loss, and human disturbance is proving to be detrimental, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is doing what it can to protect them.

What does this have to do with wildlife refuges you might ask? Wildlife species know no international boundaries, and therefore conservation must happen on a global scale to ensure populations survive. Many international wildlife agencies look to the National Wildlife Refuge System as the world leader in wildlife and fish conservation. The Service’s Wildlife Without Borders Program and Multinational Species Conservation Funds together support global partnerships to protect marine turtles, tigers, rhinos, great apes, elephants, and other iconic species. These programs are particularly important as wildlife face a poaching crisis that is leading species such as rhinos to the brink of extinction.

Can you imagine a world without elephants, tigers and rhinos? Neither can we, which is why we encourage you to urge your member of Congress to support the Multinational Species Conservation Funds and the Wildlife Trafficking Enforcement Act which imposes stricter enforcement of wildlife trafficking laws.

Click here to take action!

Thanks, Refuge Association, for your continued support in our efforts to #SaveOurMascot!