Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Poem

File:Driving car 20170523.jpg

Art and Environment
Edward Hessler.

This week's Friday poem is by Dana Gioia, a business school graduate who became a Vice President at General Foods. It begins...

So strange to hear that song again tonight
Travelling on business in a rented car

Ride along with Mr. Gioia as he cruises with the Beachboys.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Mary Anning

History of Science
Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore,
The shoes she sells are sea-shells, I'm sure,
For if she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore,
Then I'm sure she sells sea-shore shells.
--Terry Sullivan 1908

Mary Anning's Early Life

When Mary Anning was 15 months old she was being held by a neighbor while standing with two others under a tree.  There was a lightning strike and only Mary survived. Her survival was declared a miracle by the local doctor and Mary's later curiosity, intelligence and sparkling personality were attributed to this event.

Mary was born May 20, 1799 in Lyme Regis, in coastal England. Fossil country.  Her father, a cabinet-maker supplemented his meager earnings by collecting and selling fossils (curiosities or "curies").  As a child, Mary and her brother accompanied him to the rotting shale, sandstone, and limestone cliffs which originaged in the Jurassic (210 to 195 mya) to collect. They focused especially on ammonids ("snake stones"), belemites ("devil's fingers"), and vertebrae ("verteberries"). Her father died when she was ten, leaving her, her mother and brother, with a very large, nagging and life-threatening debt. So, Mary continued their business.

This collector and seller of fossils also made some of the most important discoveries of the nineteenth century and is the subject of a compelling novel by Tracy Chevalier.  Chevalier took "the events of her life and condensed them to fit into a narrative.... Hence events, while in order, do not always coincide exactly with actual dates and time spans. Plus, of course, I made up plenty. For instance, while there was gossip about Mary and Buckland and Mary and Birch, there was no proof. This is where only a novelist can step in."

Mary Anning, from Wikipedia.

But why deny Anning such possibilities? Chevalier makes delightful use of lightning as a metaphor throughout her vivid story. She also uses the idea that people "lead with one particular feature, a part of the face or body."  For Mary it was her eyes.  She was a well-practiced "noticer," honed by long days under and near the unstable fossil cliffs in all kinds of weather. Anning also had to pay attention to the tides for she could be stranded for hours or required to use another and longer way home, up and over the cliffs, to escape.

Anning's Unlikely Career

Anning became a well-known and respected paleontologist/geologist. This is even more remarkable considering her circumstances as a working-class woman in a socially stratified society with rigid borders. She was excluded from active participation in the scientific community but certainly pushed its edges.

However, in spite of her circumstances and that she was entirely self-educated, she became very confident in her abilities. She was also aware that she knew more than many of the famous paleontologists who came to visit her. She read scientific papers and painstakingly copied them as well as re-drew the figures for her own use.  Anning made important finds, especially one of the most complete Ichthyosaurs, a well-articulated skeleton, the first British Plesiosaurs and Dimonphodons. Anning did all of the preparation and cleaning work, a wearying task that demands attention so as not to harm the skeletal materials.

William Buckland, a lecturer in geology at Oxford University was a frequent visitor to the fragile and sometimes dangerous cliffs of Lyme Regis  where he collected with her. That she spent time on the beach, alone with a man was material for rumor and accusations among members of this closed and close-knit community.

Contributions and Impact

Anning discovered the true nature of the so-called bezoar stones. They were in fact fossilized feces. Buckland renamed them coprolites. She and Elizabeth Philpot (the other main character in Chevalier's book who was also an important collector and fossil hunter) were the first to observe a connection between fossilized belemite ink sacks and modern cephalopods.

Anning's only publication was part of a letter she wrote to a scientific journal in which she challenged the discovery of a new fossil shark genus.  She wrote that she had found both hooked and straight teeth many times while in the field.

Rhomaleosaurus fossil and Mary Anning plaque from Wikimedia Commons
I especially recommend a paper about this "princess of paleontology and geological lionness" by Larry E. Davis, College of St.Benedict/St. John's University.  It is a more detached view of Anning than Chevalier and provides many scientific details Chevalier doesn't.

The paper includes a portrait of Anning in her field gear with her hammer, basket (imagine collecting in that clothing!) and her dog Tray (who was often seen curled up next to her fossil finds, guarding it from other fossil finders), examples of transcripts by her (writing and drawings), poems (she wrote poems about friends and people she admired), fossils (including coprolites, of course), a stain glass window in a local church dedicated to Mary Anning, photographs of the cliffs, her grave marker, and references (including all children's books known to Davis at the time).

The tongue twister opening this post is from Davis' paper, one you may have heard or tried to say without tripping over your tongue. It was inspired by Mary Anning and was written nearly 50 years following her death. Be sure to try it out loud and challenge others to try it too. Anning died, age 47, of breast cancer on March 9, 1847.

I also strongly recommend the Wikipedia entry which adds context that deepens understanding and appreciation--I must add awe--of Mary Anning and her magnificent accomplishments.  One of the features I very much appreciated about Chevalier's story was the way she tells of the difficulties and harshness of Anning's life as well as that of her family while accomplishing so much.

A Google search brought up this illustrated list of children's books about Mary Anning.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Poem

Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Equinox, from Wikipedia.
Thursday, September 22, 2016, marked an annual celestial event, the Autumnal Equinox.

Meteorologists divide the calendar differently.  They use meteorological divisions.  Fall, for example, started on September 1.  For those who look up, the autumnal equinox is fall's marker.

Other critters have their own way of marking seasons by moving or changing their daily patterns, e.g., asleep and awake. Wendy Watson's children's book, Has Winter Come tells about one pattern in a critter's life cycle. It is a wonderful read aloud bedtime story seen through the lives of a family of woodchucks. "Although the children don't recognize the faint smell of winter in the air, a woodchuck family begins preparing for long snowy nights."

You may mind the anthropomorphism. I don't.

Poets have their way of marking the seasons and today instead of one poem, there are two. Actually there could have been a dozen. Baker's at that. Maybe more.  These are favorites and I've been known to read them at all times of the year without noticing or caring about the season.

One is by Thomas McGrath; the other by Karina Borowicz.

You may learn more about the poets by clicking on the name of the poet below the poem title.

Happy Fall!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

MacArthur Fellows 2016: Meet 'Em

Environmental & Science Education
Art and Environment
Student Achievement

Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum at TEDxHouston 2010
Photo courtesy of Blue Lemon Photo
The Class of 2016 MacArthur Fellows has been announced.

The talent of the recipients of these so-called "genius-awards" is jaw-dropping and the range of the 23 awards, e.g., law, art, sculpture, scientists, engineers, computer specialists, a New Yorker writer, cartoonist, linguist, inspiring. The range hints at the large pool of talent from which these women and men were nominated and then selected to receive this honor.

I draw attention to one of them because she works in one of the STEM fields-science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  An NPR report was devoted to a profile of Rebecca Richards-Kortum, a professor of bioengineering at Rice University.

The reporter, Jason Beaubien, notes that "(Richards-Kortum) has made a name for herself in the field not for her own inventions, but for the incredible creativity of her students."

Professor Richards-Kortum "challenges students to design new medical devices and technologies that can actually be put into practice in low-resource settings. A device developed by one of her students to help premature babies breathe, for example, is now used in 19 countries.... So far the lab holds 29 patents for work they've developed."  

"If it stays in the lab, it's not really innovation," she says. "What we've learned here [at Rice] is that if you can engage students in helping to design new technologies and put them into practical use, they get so excited and work so hard that they learn in a different way. And they go on to have careers where they take that dedication and turn it into action in their own lives."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Vaccinating Frogs

Endangered Species
Environmental & Science Education
by Edward Hessler
The number of extinctions of frog populations worldwide due to fungal infections may surprise you. It did me. The number is 200 and growing.
It is a serious skin ailment caused by the chytrid fungus. Frogs die within a few weeks upon being infected. The importance of a frog's skin to its life is not to be underestimated. It allows them to be a frog. The skin is the organ through which frog's breathe as well through which chemicals important to their survival--e.g., fluid balance--are absorbed.
Photo of yellow-legged frog by Isaac Chellman, NPS
via Wikimedia Commons
Recently scientists have turned their attention to the frog's immune system, trying to "trick" it by making it just sick enough to build their immunity to the fungus.  The experimental treatment is being conducted with yellow-legged frogs which are found in alpine lakes of the Sierra Nevada mountains. About 90 percent of this population has disappeared.
The experimental therapy is nearing the end of its third summer and there is reason for hope since survival has been surprisingly good.  If the treated frogs survive for a few seasons they may be able to survive and grow in the long-term, as the great force of natural selection takes over and directs their evolution. But this will take time.
NPR reporterLauren Sommer told the story of this research effort September 10. A short film about it from the WQED and PBS "Deep Look" series is also embedded in the story.

A Beginner's Guide to Vermicomposting

CGEE Student Voice
by Jenni Abere
The majority of cities in the U.S. don’t yet have organics composting collection— but that doesn’t mean you can’t start reducing your waste footprint! While you’re waiting for your city to get on board with organics, you can start composting at home.
Vermicomposting is composting using worms. This can be done indoors in a relatively small bin. The start-up cost is low, and it’s easy to maintain. Plus, it produces the most nutrient-rich soil you can get.
Here’s how to get started:

1. Get a bin.

There are bins made for vermicomposting, but you don’t need anything special. I used a medium-sized rubbermaid bin from Target. When looking for a bin, you want one with more surface area, so a shallow and large bin is best. Worms can be harmed by exposure to light, so make sure the bin has opaque sides.
The bin can sit in a closet or room where it won't be disturbed often. 

2. Set up the bin.

Worms need to breathe, so drill some holes in the sides and lid. To control moisture, you can drill a few holes in the bottom. This will require something to catch excess moisture. I simply bought a larger bin to nest the smaller bin inside of.

3. Add bedding and food.

These are the two materials that you will need to continually add to any composting bin, including a worm bin. They go by a lot of names: bedding and food, browns and greens, carbon and nitrogen. Essentially, bedding is something that used to be alive, and food is still alive.
Bedding is dry and fibrous so it will absorb moisture, and hold the soil together. I use shredded newspaper, and non-recyclable paper like toilet paper tubes and egg cartons. You can also use dry leaves or straw. You want about twice as much bedding as food.
Now for food. Worms aren’t very picky, but there are some things they can’t eat. Firstly, they are vegetarians! Don’t put any meat or dairy in your worm bin. The best food is raw fruit and vegetables. Worms are the perfect solution to non-preventable food waste such as banana peels, apple cores, and other peels, stems, rinds, and skins. They also like tea bags and coffee grounds— including the filter!
My worm bin feat: shredded toilet paper tubes and tomatillo husks. 
Avoid processed, cooked, and oily foods. Worms can handle small amounts of starches, citrus, and onion. In a small indoor bin, you may want to avoid these foods altogether.

4. Add the worms!

Set up your bin a week or so in advance so the food begins to decay. Before adding the worms, make sure the bin has an appropriate moisture level. It should feel like a wrung-out sponge. Adding food will increase moisture, and bedding will soak up excess moisture. Make sure the bin is aerated properly; adding dry bedding will help.
There are many places to order worms online. The type of worm you want is called a red wiggler or red worm. You can plan for about 1,000 worms (or one pound) per square foot of your bin, but aim low when first ordering. They will multiply quickly if conditions are right. You don’t have to worry about having too many worms, though: If they run out of space and food, they will reproduce at a slower rate.
Worms may try to escape the bin when you first add them. They are restless from travel and not accustomed to the new bin. Give them some time to settle down, but be prepared to scrape some dried up worms off your floor.

5. Harvest the compost.

It shouldn’t be long before you see dark, rich soil in your bin. You need to remove finished compost every few months to keep the worm bin healthy.
No inputs are recognizable in finished compost.
Several weeks before you plan to harvest, only add food to one half of the bin. This will draw the worms over to one side. Then simply dig to the bottom of the bin and pull out the dirt. I pick out worms and bits of food/bedding that isn’t completely broken down yet, but this can become a painstaking process. A few worms and scraps aren’t going to hurt plants.
After you’ve harvested, now you have a pile of rich, moist soil. If you’re an apartment dweller you may not have a use for so much soil. What now?
Remember that you’ve got a valuable commodity here! Ask friends and family if they would like some for their yard. Otherwise, go to a public park and sprinkle some in the grass and around trees. If it’s the middle of winter this might not be possible. You can store the compost by keeping it moist.
Composting is valuable as a way to reduce waste, so don’t worry if you don’t have a good use for the end-product!

This basic information should help you get started, but any other questions can be answered online! There is a surprisingly large community of vermicomposters online to share tips and help troubleshoot.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Science Debate: Presidential Candidates Respond

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Well, three out of four major candidates responded to a nonprofit advocacy group's questions about science, engineering, technology, health, education and environment.
Who do you think didn't/hasn't responded.
Their responses may be read at

Friday, September 16, 2016

PIAEE and PEYA 2016

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler PEYA Award
The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality recognized 18 teachers and 63 students from across the country for outstanding contributions to environmental education and stewardship.

You may read the press release which has a link to the Presidential Innovative Award for Environmental Education (for teachers who were honored) and the Presidential Environmental Youth Award (for students who were honored) here.

There is a whole lot going on in schools in that wonderful and wonder-filled teaching-learning triangle: teachers, students and the "stuff" that brings them together.  The "stuff" may be thought of as curriculum but when you read these descriptions you will get an idea of its richness.

The announcements were made on August 16, 2016 and had it not been for a colleague I might never have known.

h/t: Brinkley Prescott, CGEE

Friday Poem

Image result for nebraska

Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Today's poem is by William Kloefkorn, 1932-2011 who once served as Nebraska state poet.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

XKCD Takes On Climate Change

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler
Popular Science re-published a cartoon from XKCD on climate from 20000 BCE to 2016. It is scroll-like so you may have to  wait a few seconds for it to load and then scroll down.
From Wikimedia Commons.
I first found it on Greg Laden's blog and he has some caveats as well as a thorough discussion of the cartoon. The blog is subtitled "culture as science -- science as culture," which reflects Laden's background and education in anthropology (Ph.D. anthropology Harvard with Irven DeVore). This is the place where the cartoons falls into difficulties and contributes to common misconceptions.
Laden notes that the pre-history in the cartoon is considerably oversimplified, at times just plain wrong and misleading about the nature of humanity. Humans arose across time and space although sometimes we treat these changes as discrete steps. Our early history is wonderfully messy.
Laden comments on why its a great cartoon, on missed opportunities, provides a list of simple facts and big concepts that are wrong, and why getting the facts right matters and is important.
It is a wonderful cartoon.

Environmental Studies Field Trips: Frogtown Farm

CGEE Student Voice
Environmental Studies Field Trip Series
by Jenni Abere

This week, Hamline's Environmental Studies Field Trip Practicum class started the year off with a trip to nearby Frogtown Farm. This St. Paul urban farm and public park is in its first full season of production, so there is a lot of work to be done this fall. My class came to learn about the farm while we assisted with weeding in the fields and preparing for Saturday's Harvest Festival.

The class heads up the hill to the farm.

Frogtown Farm's History: Building Soil in the City

I had been to Frogtown Farm before; last fall, another field-trip based Environmental Studies class visited several times. Last year, the farm was not in full production mode. The site of the farm was once the House of the Good Shepherd; built and run by Sisters as a refuge for troubled girls and young women.

Turning the site of a large building into a farm has posed some problems. For one, the soil was very poor. Last summer, Frogtown Farm's acres consisted mostly of fields of peas and oats. These crops would build soil and fix the nitrogen level. They also grew a few small patches of leafy greens and were constructing a hoophouse.

This fall, the change and growth was remarkable. The once-scraggly pea and oat field is now full of rows and rows of crops: tomatoes, eggplant, tomatillos, kale, peppers, asparagus. The variety is stunning. The hoophouse is now complete, and teeming with several varieties of tomatoes and peppers and herbs.

Colorful rows of crops.

Poor soil is a common problem for urban farms and gardens. It seems that Frogtown Farm has overcome that first challenge.

Water Management: Fighting Gravity

Perhaps the biggest problem Frogtown Farm faces is water retainment. The farm is located atop a hill, so the question is: How do you keep water on top of a hill?

So far, they have implemented rain gardens and deep berms around the fields to trap water. Fruit trees planted in the berms have a dual purpose: providing food, and retaining water once they grow long roots.

Berms and growing fruit trees help retain water.

Keeping water at the top of the hill will benefit the crops, but it also protects the environment by reducing runoff during rainfalls. In an urban area this is a very important goal that will prevent pollution from reaching our lakes and rivers.

Exciting Future: Capturing Heat from Compost?

The inside of the hoophouse.
This season, the farm has sold its produce locally. In the future, there are some exciting possibilities. Farm to table restaurants? Partnerships with local schools? Frogtown Farm is unique because it is on public land. Being a part of the community is of the utmost importance. There are informative signs everywhere in the farm/park so that people passing through can learn about the work that is done there. There are plans for community garden plots on the site, as well as a community kitchen if the need is there. Public events such as this Saturday's Harvest Festival bring the community together over a meal of food grown at the farm; this weekend, it's personal wood-fire pizzas with veggie toppings! Yum!

One particular plan for this fall excited me. Frogtown Farm's hoophouse already extends the growing season dramatically, but an experiment will see if they can stretch this further. Frogtown Farm has a huge compost pile, of course, and it can reach an internal heat of 130°F. Could this high temperature be used to heat the hoophouse during late fall and winter?

This is an amazing idea: To reduce waste and extend the growing season at the same time!

This first field trip was a great way to get out in the community and learn about urban agriculture in a hands-on way. Pulling weeds and eating fresh tomatoes during a class discussion is a rare opportunity.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Commemorating Lost Species

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler
The now-extinct Thylacine. Picture from Wikipedia

Six vintage-style travel posters have been designed to draw attention to some wonderful critters lost to extinction.  And too often lost to our memories as well.

There is a poster of the relevant critter for these countries: Costa Rica, Mauritius, Tasmania, Jamaica, Alaska and New Zealand.

You may see them at Unknown Tourism.

View them and weep.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Our Feathered Planet

Biological Diversity
Biological Evolution
Edward Hessler
Image of a ruddy turnstone from Wikipedia

Today, September 13, 2016, the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology announced a new online experience from Google, the Cornell Lab of  Ornithology, and more than 1000 other partner institutons. These are collections of natural history, all available in one place--interactive, dynamic and immersive.

Our Feathered Planet, the natural history of birds, in this series, is from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. It is the one I want to highlight. It features a large-scale mural by artist Jane Kim.

"The mural's 3000 square feet depict the diversity and evolution of birds. Each bird represents and existing bird family and is shown in its home range on a world map in life-sized detail."

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday Poem

Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

The creation of the meter/metre, now a worldwide unit of measure is told in Ken Adler's dazzling history of science book, The Measure of All Things.

Image from Wikipedia
The meter emerged from the French Revolution.  The idea to establish a standard meter seemed simple and straightforward. Two astronomers departed from Paris in opposite directions to measure a set distance of a meridian arc. The south-going astronomer, Pierre Mechain headed for Barcelona; the north-going astronomer, Jean Baptiste Delambre, headed for Dunkirk.  The aim was to work towards each other, reunite, make their calculations and reach agreement on its length. This project was to take a year. Instead, it took seven years.

Robert McFarlane reviews Adler's book in The Observer. For more about Ken Adler, a historian of science at Northwestern University, see this page.

The poet Kei Miller turns a graceful eye on this feat in his poem "Establishing the Metre."

Like tailors who must know their clients clients' girths
two men set out to find the sprawling measure of the earth.
They walked the curve from Rodez to Barcelona,
and Barcelona to Dunkirk. Such a pilgrimage!
They did not call it inches, miles or chains --
this distance which as yet had no clear name.
Between France and Spain they dared to stretch 
uncalibrated measuring tapes. And foot
by weary foot, they found a rhythm
the measure that exists in everything.

The poem is from Kei Miller's book, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion (Carcanet Press Limited, Manchester Great Britain 2014). For this collection of poems, he was awarded the Forward Prize for 2014.   Mr. Miller teaches at Royal Holloway College, University of London.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

5 Highlights of Working at CGEE

Michaela Koopmans

1.Working on the back porch of the Hewitt house was a good way to feel relaxed and enjoy the summer weather while doing work.

2.Reaching 300 Facebook likes was an exciting milestone. We kept a poster of a thermometer on the wall when we first created the Facebook and the goal was 100 likes. And now, a few years later, we’ve hit 300!

Student Worker Michaela Koopmans attends
Minnesota Association for Environmental Education conference
and falls in love with lichens.

3.Helping with Rivers Institutes gave me a chance to get away from my desk, learn and explore state parks, and see how the Center’s work with teachers was put into action. A few of the Institute attendees were my teachers in elementary school!

4.Building a database from scratch not only expanded my knowledge of relational databases from nothing, but also taught me valuable skills that I can continue to use throughout my life.

5.Working with great colleagues in a such a fun and supportive office has made my time at CGEE enjoyable and valuable.

Michaela Koopmans graduated from Hamline in May ’16 with a degree in Chemistry. She started working at CGEE in the summer of 2012 as a student worker, and now works as a contractor building and managing CGEE’s database. Michaela enjoys hiking, camping, archery, and finding new places to explore.

5 Things I’ve learned from Working at CGEE

CGEE Student Voice
by Steven Beardsley

Being a Storm Drain Goalie with other CGEE staff
At Solstice River 2014
I have been working at the Center for Global Environmental Education (CGEE) since the summer of my first year at Hamline University. While working at the center, I have had multiple opportunities to represent CGEE at its many teacher institutes (the St. Croix River, the Mississippi River, and the WaterWorks! institutes) and through outreach at other events (like the unveiling of the light rail Green Line and the Solstice River dance performance along the Mississippi).

I have also had the chance to work on significant projects, such as helping to create this blog - which includes a place for CGEE student employees and other Hamline students to share their insights. When I did my semester abroad in Spain, I took the opportunity to learn about environmental awareness and education initiatives and share that information through a blog post.

As I leave CGEE to teach English as a foreign language in Cuenca, Ecuador this fall (which I am very excited about), I would like to share 5 takeaways from working at the center. They are:

1. Environmental education, literacy, science, and writing are all interconnected:
Cinda reading a story with Cara as the talking lobster
at Mississippi Rivers Institute 2015
A major takeaway from helping out at the different Rivers Institutes that CGEE hosts for teacher professional development is that scientific inquiry and literacy are interconnected. As a creative writer and lover of the environment, I enjoyed using my five senses to capture what it was like to ride the Magnolia Blossom riverboat down the Mississippi River. From the eagles nesting in the trees, to the gurgling of the steamboat engine and even the smell of exhaust fumes (that made me feel a little dizzy but still did not take away from the wonders of the river), I learned a lot about the river. I also came to enjoy one of the Mississippi River Institute's instructors, Ed Pembleton, who talked about Fibonacci numbers and the significance of mathematical patterns in nature. Though people may often think that science and poetry are separate, I’ve realized from working with CGEE and going to school at Hamline that this is far from the case. If a teacher can bring in a hand puppet of a lobster and write a story about macroinvertebrates and the river, for example, then science, environmental education, literacy, and writing can all be interconnected.

2. Environmental awareness follows you everywhere
Battery recycling stand in Murcia, Spain
When I mean everywhere I literally mean everywhere. Since working at CGEE, I've consciously taken the time to look for signs of environmental initiatives in the places I visit: the battery recycling stands in Murcia, Spain; the stenciled storm drains encouraging “Adopt-a-drain” in California; and even thinking about whether my neighbors or friends know that what goes down their storm drains ends up in our lakes and rivers. I have also gained a lot from posting content to our Facebook page and reading about environmental education on the blog. It only takes a few minutes of my time, but taking the time to be environmentally aware has really enriched me. I now know a lot about the different initiatives taking place in Murcia, Spain through their public university there: Campus Sostenible.

3. Being new to a job is a good thing
At graduation ceremony with
supervisor Brinkley Prescott
When I started at CGEE, it was my first time having a part-time job that involved putting together binders, data entry, and other administrative tasks. I learned to embrace and enjoy the myriad of work I was assigned - even washing the dishes after WaterShed Partners meetings. I learned to do a mail-merge and use Excel to manage contacts -  practical things that can act as job experience on a resume. I learned the importance of asking questions and getting oriented to where everything is found This could be said about any job, but I was lucky to learn this at CGEE. I am happy with my BA in English (with a Concentration in Creative Writing and Spanish) and my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate, though I could definitely be a good administrative assistant in another job.

4. People care and do want to talk about the environment
Helping a guest with CGEE
interactive media at the
24th Anniversary Celebration
Sometimes this job could be difficult, when a lot of the articles and posts talk about current and future water scarcity and/or environmental degradation. But I have learned from working for CGEE in the Eco-Experience building at the State Fair that people care and want to talk about the environment. Sometimes it’s just talking about initiatives that I hadn’t heard of or wanting to be involved on a governmental level. But it shows that there are people who do care and want to make a difference. I've also learned that I can make a difference in my everyday life when it comes to being environmentally conscious. I now take 5 minute showers and am aware of the kinds of pollution impacting our waterways, which has been important for me.

5. The environment affects everyone and relates to every facet of society
By lumaxart (3D Full Spectrum Unity Holding Hands Concept)
[CC BY-SA 2.0 ( or
CC BY-SA 2.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons
I have posted much about going outside or doing work in the environment on the Facebook page; Some posts on the blog have been in this same vein. I have learned that issues of food scarcity and water pollution affect everyone, including and especially low-income communities and communities of color. I have learned a great deal about my different social identities at Hamline; I think working at CGEE has added the environment as another important aspect of who I am. Regardless of who we are, we all live somewhere on this planet with other creatures. We all need food and water to survive and we all need to be responsible for not only how we treat each other but how what we do impacts our environment and the rest of us collectively. So when it comes to social justice, I think environmental stewardship and justice are also quintessential.

Those are the main things I have gained from working at CGEE. For me, it has meant a whole lot more than simply working another part-time job. It has been a valuable experience that I have had the privilege to enjoy.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Wildlife Management 101

Environmental & Science Literacy
Edward Hessler

What is wildlife management, i.e., what does it mean to practice wildlife management or what do wildlife managers do?  It seems one of those great careers if you like or love the outdoors.

This video about the coyote dilemma starts with this premise: "Wildlife management is really a misnomer. It's about managing people."

The coyote.
The coyote dilemma refers to the "everywhereness" of this critter. Once confined to the central plains of North America, today it may be found most of the continent thanks to the way humans have changed the environment.

Before you watch it think about what you know about wildlife management, decide whether you agree or disagree that wildlife management is about managing people, why you believe it and what you accept as evidence?

As you watch the video, consider the evidence presented.  What is it? How good do you think it is and your reasons for accepting or rejecting it? What else would you like/need to know?

After viewing it, reconsider your initial decision. Have you changed your mind?  What are your reasons? What other questions do you have?

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Monarch Butterflies: Loss of Overwintering Habitat

Environmental and Science Education
Edward Hessler

Data released August 23 2016 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) shows that key Central Mexico forests where monarch butterflies overwinter was subject to the largest loss of trees (ogamel fir trees) since the winter of 2009-2010.

More than 70 hectares (ha), approximately 172 acres, of the overwintering forested area were destroyed during a period of violent weather in March 2016.

Monarch butterflies overwintering. Photo from Wikipedia.
According to the report, it is expected that these kinds of weather events--extreme because until now such events have been uncommon, will become standard in the future.  The cause?  Global climate change.

Before this event, the monarch butterfly population had grown according to a survey conducted December 2015.

On the other hand illegal logging declined by 40% due to enforcement and financial support by the Monarch Fund, WWF, Mexican and international philanthropists, and businesses.

The WWF report, illustrated with graphs and maps, may be read here. In addition, an article on the WWF website provides additional details.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

"Ratty's" Return

Endangered Species
Biological Diversity
Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

"Nice?  It's the only thing," said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing," he went on dreamily, "messing--about--in--boats--messing--" 

Image of a water vole from flickr.
--Kenneth Grahame
The Wind in the Willows 

Ratty as he is known to his friends is really a water vole but he may once again mess around in and with water, this time in the wilds of Yorkshire Dales, U. K., as noted in this report from National Public Radio.

Water voles were once common in the Yorkshire Dales but were eradicated by predators and industrialization. While water voles are still found in the U.K., their numbers have been decimated by as much as 80 percent.

The Yorkshire Dales plan is to reintroduce one-hundred water voles at Malham Tarn. They will be left near the edge of the water in large closed cages for three days and then lured out by food -- apples and carrots -- placed on floating rafts. Two days later, the cages will be removed and they will be on their own. 

Wish them well.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday Poem

From Wikipedia. 
Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

Today's poem was written by Adrienne Rich.

If you'd like to know more about her, read this appreciation by her long-time friend Carol Muske-Dukes.

Ms. Rich was born May 16, 1929 (Baltimore).  She died in Santa Cruz March 12, 2012.