When I founded Victor Emanuel Nature Tours over 30 years ago, I never dreamed it would become the largest company in the world specializing in birding tours.Birding tours were just developing in the early seventies when I started taking individuals out for trips. After planning trips to Yucatan in conjunction with the National Audubon Society’s 1974 convention, VENT expanded into Texas, Arizona, Mexico, Trinidad, Tobago, Kenya, and Botswana. I have wonderful memories of trips led by Peter Matthiessen, one of the world’s finest natural history writers, and the incomparable Roger Tory Peterson.We have continued to grow, adding new destinations and new leaders almost every year. This year we will offer some 160 tours to over 100 destinations ranging from the Texas coast to the forest-clad Himalayan highlands of tiny Bhutan, to the huge expanses of Brazil’s bird-rich Pantanal, and to Antarctica, Africa, and many places in-between.Our success has been due to the quality of our leaders and the standards they maintain. Almost from VENT’s inception I was fortunate to be joined by outstanding birders who had a talent for finding birds and showing them to others, and for handling the complex logistics of a tour. Included in this group were David Wolf, Steve Hilty, Bob Ridgely, the late Ted Parker, Kenn Kaufman, Kevin Zimmer, Barry Zimmer, and David Bishop. VENT also benefited early on from the support, advice, and encouragement given us by my good friends, Peter Matthiessen and the late Roger Tory Peterson.