E. O. Wilson Biophilia Center and
M.C. Davis was a self- made man. Through hard work, determination, and smarts, he became a successful business man, and as such was afforded the opportunity to spend time on his true passion- a love for the outdoors and nature.
One rainy day in 1994, M.C. was stuck in traffic on Interstate 4 in Tampa, FL. Tired of waiting he took a detour off I-4 and his route took in him front of a marque at a school that read “Florida Black Bear Rally”. M.C. decided to get out of the traffic and went inside the rally. Little did he know at the time, but that chance encounter would change M.C’s life. He was so enthralled with what he had heard that he (like he did in so many other endeavors in his life) dove head first into the world of nature the environment. Already being a voracious reader, M.C. started by reading as much as he possibly could about the subject. He was inspired by books such as Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, The Diversity of Life by E.O Wilson, Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, and Voice of the River by Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Over the next years, M.C. became a significant donor and fund raiser for Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society, Gopher Tortoise relocation and of course, Florida’s Black Bear.
In 2000, M.C. decided to step up his environmental endeavors and he started assembling land in the Florida Panhandle near Freeport, Florida. He purchased 54,000+/- acres that became what is now known as Nokuse Plantation. M.C. personally chose the name Nokuse which is a Native American name for Black Bear in the Muscogee language. M.C. understood
that the Florida Black Bear was an umbrella species, and he knew that if he could provide a large enough contiguous habitat for the Black Bear to thrive, then he would be able to provide a native natural habitat for a host of other species that would also flourish. In addition to species preservation, M.C. has been able to restore the endangered Longleaf Pine with close to 6,000,000 long leaf pine seedlings planted at Nokuse.
Over the years, M.C. encouraged his friends and family to be naturalists and to participate in protecting the environment. Not only did he encourage them to financially support environmental causes but to actively participate by attending anti fox penning rallies, letter writing campaigns to save the sea turtles and gopher tortoise relocation efforts. He even sponsored a theatrical play titled “A Sense of Wonder” about the life of environmentalist Rachel Carson.
One of M.C.’s greatest accomplishments was the creation of the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center located on site at Nokuse Plantation. In 2009, M.C. opened the self-funded, 28,000 square feet, $12,000,000 nature center named after the evolutionary, two time Pulitzer Prize winning biologist, E.O. Wilson. E.O. Wilson has visited the center on multiple occasions. The E.O. Wilson Biophilia (the love of all living things) Center educates over 5,200 students annually in a five county area of the Florida Panhandle. Students who visit the center learn about the natural environment through interpretive exhibits as well as extensive trail systems through natural areas on Nokuse Plantation.
M.C. Davis has been featured in numerous articles and books including Wildlands Philanthropy: The Great American Tradition and National Geographic. In 2015, several months before he lost his battle with lung cancer, M.C. was featured on the national show All Things Considered on National Public Radio (NPR).
E.O. Wilson called M.C. Davis’s passing “a huge loss for the conservation movement in Florida and nationally”, and it certainly has left a big void in the lives of his family and all those who loved him. The E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center and Nokuse Plantation serve as a living legacy to continue the work of M.C. Davis and to fulfill his dream of indoctrinating and inspiring future generations to be environmentally aware and responsible.
Listen to MC Davis explain his journey and conservation mission:
June 17, 2015
Heard on All Things Considered
“How are you going to love something and how are you going to save it? You are not going to save it unless you love it, and you are not going to love it unless you are exposed to it.”
Founder, MC Davis, on Nokuse Plantation land.
MC Davis with loyal companion, Trubby.
MC Davis exploring Nokuse Plantation with Dr. Edward O. Wilson