The character of Dickon in The Secret Garden is one of my favorites in all of Children's Literature. I love how he is intuitive about nature, how he loves animals, but especially how he draws Mary out of her crankiness with his kind and gentle ways.
I have a few students this year who passionately love animals and want to work with them when they are older. They are a good influence on me, since I basically fear anything that moves that isn't human. (It is a family trait from my mother's side.) It has taught me that we can influence the people around us to take a second look at the things they may not love (or fear) and change their outlook by example. That is a wonderful contribution to make to the world.