About Me

I'm a 30-something girl shaping my life to be what I've always wanted. I've been incredibly fortunate to have never dealt with any major mental health issues despite both parents having many. I can't believe the luck and take none of it for granted. I hope to reach out to others who may live the same life.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A little sprinkle for the drought

Whew! It's been quite some time since I've written in general and even longer since I've continued on with my Thailand journey. I promise to continue with more pictures and stories from over seas very soon.

On a sad note for me, I did not get accepted to work in Africa as I had so hoped. This will, however, allow me more time and dedication to what I've been training for.

These past two weeks I have been fortunate enough to be included in the RESTORE program through the Earth Partnership For Schools. This included a two week training in Madision, Wisconsin. The information (and there was a lot) will be enough to get me started on restoring some prairie at a nearby school, and working my environmental education skills with the students there on a somewhat regular basis. How regular? That all depends on a meeting that is happening with the principal in about twenty minutes from the time that I am writing this.

So what did we DO for two weeks? We learned alot about plant identification, took some field trips to schools to see what they've already done with the program and played like kids in the prairie. It was great. We even got to see Aldo Leopold's shack, meet his daughter Nina, and get a tour of the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center. In case you are wondering who this man is, he's the author of the book "A Sand County Almanac", and a legend in the world of phenology. He's kind of a big deal here in Wisconsin, and especially in that area, since that's where he lived and wrote the book. I read this book back in my first years of college and had no idea how much potential it had at the time. I don't think I was old enough to fully appreciate it.

Here's somewhat of a chronology of pictures. The main piece of the institute took place at the UW Madison Arboretum. We spent some time in the Greene field, and it was absolutely beautiful. I couldn't get over all the prairie plants they have there with which I was not previously familiar.

And here was our guide for much of the time, Walt. He was amazing! He knows so much about prairies and particular types of plants. He was such a feisty old guy. He's in his 70's now and still a naturalist at the Arboretum. What a guy. I really liked talking with him, but wasn't so fond of his driving...I guess the other employees at the Arboretum weren't either. Apparently he's not allowed to back up anymore...ha ha. I can't imagine anyone not loving this guy. The second week we had choices of what classes we wanted to do, and I of course chose his soil infiltration class. I think it will actually be rather helpful in the future, and man it was fun. You're a good guy, Walt.

We went out insect collecting one day while studying entomology in the prairie (you know I'm a nerd like that anyway) and found all sorts of interesting things. No way is this stuff just for kids, I'll do all the lessons myself! And I wasn't alone. Meet Mike, the teacher I'll be working with.

Note the child-like trance. This was rather common throughout the weeks of training, but this moment was particularly notable. We had done a sweep of insects to see if there was more biodiversity in the prairie or a manicured lawn. The results are less important that what we found. This moth larva (a lepidopteran) was quite possibly the coolest thing any of us had ever seen, or so it would seem. We did experiments with him to see if he liked to sit low down or high up, what colors he liked to be around the most, and to see if he would always hold his body out so straight like that. He looked exactly like a stick.

Note that he hangs out straight over the paper. We didn't just get that picture in mid stretch, that was how he stayed all the time. No wonder I teach kids about nature.

Later the same day we went to the Leopold shack. We were lucky enough to hear stories about the life of his family straight from his 92 year-old daughter, Nina. She is pretty awesome, and not in the slang sense. She is still keeping track of the phenology there and giving talks to groups like us. She is helped by Aldo's great-grandson (I'm not sure if this is her grandson) who is studying to do just what Aldo did, under the program that Aldo himself set up at UW Madison. Crazy that he should need to even go through all that growing up in that family the way he did.

We ended the session by planting some flowers, grasses and sedges. It was great to end it full circle, and to help the Arboretum out a little as well. Now there is a lot of work to be done over the next year, but it's all exciting and holds quite a bit of possibility if we work hard and let it happen as it needs to.

I'll end this posting with my favorite picture from the trip. This is a lightening bug sitting on a bergamont flower (also known as bee balm). Enjoy.

1 comment:

Molly said...

I'm sorry to hear about Africa Jolen! I guess everything happens for a reason though, right?