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Jad Daley '86 speaks for the trees

From the Fall/Winter 2018 Peddie Chronicle

Jad Daley ’86 spent childhood summers and holidays at his family’s vacation house on a remote island in Maine. Accessible only by boat, the island was truly wild, dense with pine forests and ringed in craggy beaches, and Daley found a passion in exploring them. “My happiest days growing up were wandering these forests and coming out upon some remote rocky shoreline,” said Daley. “I felt like that was an experience everyone ought to be able to have in their lives.”

Daley is now the president and CEO of American Forests, the first forest conservation organization in the United States. The organization prioritizes two issues: climate change and the role that forests can play in addressing it, and creating job opportunities in forest conservation in underserved areas. For Earth Day 2019, Daley visited Peddie’s campus to speak to the student body about the role that youth activists can play in conservation.

Daley credits Peddie with influencing his “flexible, problem-solving way of looking at the world.”

“I feel like every class I took at Peddie, regardless of the subject, first taught you how to think and how to learn and how to express yourself, and then it was about a subject second. And that’s just an incredibly powerful gift to be given by an education,” he said.

Over the last decade, Daley has led multiple conservation programs and coalitions and played a leading role in authoring and enacting federal legislation to establish forest programs. He joined American Forests in 2017 as vice president of conservation programs.

An art history major, Daley also took environmental studies classes at Brown University. He decided to become a teacher after graduation and taught his first class, a spring semester elective on literature and the environment, at Peddie.

Daley said that he is grateful that Peddie is raising “politically aware, active citizens.”

“The Peddie community are the kind of people I’m counting on right now as we’re battling some really challenging environmental issues like climate change,” he said. “I’m so excited by the energy in the student body for environmental issues, for conservation. Their interest in not just talking, but asking, ‘How can we get involved? How can we become part of the solution?’”

“Every day is Earth Day,” Daley concluded his talk. “Every month is Earth Month. Let’s get to work.”