Environmental Education Event on Monday, March 4th!
Monday, March 4th, 2013
4:30pm to 7:00pm
in the lobby of the United Way Building (1709 Ben Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103)
Register at EcoExpress.EventBrite.com.
On Monday, March 4th, 2013, our EcoExpress program will co-host the Spring into Science Education expo with the Philadelphia Education Fund’s Math+Science Coalition. In its third year, Spring into Science Education is a FREE networking & educational event for local educators. Educators of grades K through 12 will learn about inspiring resources and ideas that can be immediately brought back into the classroom!
Highlights of the Spring into Science Education expo include:
The premiere of our newest documentary on Rain Gardens
Exhibits by Local Environmental, Science, and Math Education Experts
PA Master Naturalist Guest Blog: Nature Journaling
Continuing on with our PA Master Naturalist Guest Blogs, John McGlaughlin discusses nature journaling.
Well, here we are, a few weeks into the Naturalist program and the work is rolling in! One of our weekly at-home assignments is to keep a nature journal. Hmm, I initially thought, what good can come of this? I haven’t kept a journal since 3rd grade when I wrote about important things like what color eye-mask I would wear if I were one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My initial reservations with this assignment’s purpose were eventually subdued after reminding myself that as naturalists we are encouraged to explore, observe and reflect on the natural world. What better way to synthesize these 3 tasks then by keeping a nature journal?!
The art of nature journaling has been around for a while. Pliny the Elder put together a mean nature journal in ‘Naturalis Historia’ a few thousand years ago where he collected all the natural phenomena of his day that he could find. And the tradition continued into the modern era with authors like John Muir, Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold all keeping nature journals that are thought to contain some of the most important ecological writing of the 20th century. And then there’s me to carry on the torch.
So where to begin? Us naturalists-in-training were informed that a good way to start a nature journal is by selecting a special ‘nature spot’ outside that you can visit regularly in order to expand your sensitivity to and familiarity with nature. Then after your nature spot’s all mapped out you need to ‘get in the zone’ by sharpening your five senses to tune in with the natural world. Finally, once your nature mojo is flowing, you need to make careful observations of your nature spot, reflect upon those observations and finally record them in your trusty nature journal… easy enough!
Each week we’re assigned a different way of experiencing our nature spot to broaden and enrich our nature journaling. For example, previous assignments included wearing a blindfold at our natural spot to alter the typical optical-centric perspective of the environment. Another week we were directed to look for evidence of the water cycle in action and to visualize the changes our nature spot undergoes during each part of the cycle.
This past week we were charged with visiting our nature spot to observe the variety of species living there, with the specific task of identifying the producers, consumers and decomposers. For those in need of a brush-up in science-speak, producers make their own food, consumers feed on producers or other consumers, and decomposers eat and break down dead producers/consumers/decomposers. I brought my camera along for this assignment to provide a video log of my experience. See ya next time!
Guest Blog: Introducing Master Naturalist John McGlaughlin
Hi all, My name is John McGlaughlin and I am a PA Master Naturalist in training. I hail from the Roxborough section of Philadelphia and am a Public Defender by day and a Naturalist by night. I live a stone’s throw away from Fairmount park and spent much of my life ‘back the crick’ enjoying the many splendors of the great outdoors. The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is another great resource that is also right around the corner from my house. I was even lucky enough to intern with the environmental education department of the Schuylkill Center during my college days at Temple University. Roxborough has so many outdoor opportunities that it’s earned the nickname Philbilladelphia.
The PA Master Naturalist program has been nothing short of amazing so far. I heard about the program back in January by way of e-mail and had my application sent out the following week. I worked as an environmental educator a few years back at the Schuylkill Center and another place called the Ashokan Field Campus up in the Catskills. But then law school disrupted most of my environmental ed. opportunities and I’ve been hankering to get back into the field ever sine. I’m hoping to use my newfound Naturalist position to get back into teaching young people and sharing some of the great things I’m learning in the program.
So, everybody asks ‘What do you do in the Master Naturalist program?’ Well, so far we’ve done a whole lot. The course consists of weekly ecological readings, in-class lectures with environmental professionals, full day field trips and periodic nature journaling. Our coursework will culminate in a capstone project where each Naturalist develops a service project and then presents their idea to a panel of environmental experts.
This past week we focused on arthropods and ornithology but previous Naturalist topics included Wissahickon Geology, Biodiversity, Upland Habitats, Watersheds and Natural Selection. To get a better sense of the hands-on component of the Naturalist Program I brought my camera along for our ornithology/herpetology/arthropods session this past weekend to capture some of our adventures from the field.
New Feature: Guest Blogs from PA Master Naturalists!
People throughout Pennsylvania are doing amazing things to protect and preserve our environment. We at GreenTreks always strive to share these stories with you — both in our documentaries and through our blog posts.
We are thrilled now to be able to share the experiences of two people going through the Pennsylvania Master Naturalist program!
The Pennsylvania Master Naturalist program is a growing, statewide initiative designed to train master volunteers to conduct conservation education and outreach, citizen science, and service in their communities. The Program emphasizes community-based conservation by forging vital partnerships among community members and local organizations through service activities. The Pennsylvania Institute for Conservation Education administers the Master Naturalist program.
Over the course of the next several weeks, Master Naturalists Donna and John will be guest-blogging on the GreenTreks blog. We hope you enjoy hearing about their work in our community!