Are you a citizen scientist? Do you want to be? The activity we call “science” began as citizen science centuries ago, with curious people asking questions about the world around them and looking for answers through observation and experimentation. Today, scientists are rediscovering the benefits of public participation in scientific research.
This fall I’ve been slowing down a lot to allow squirrels and deer to cross the road. On rainy nights next spring I’ll stop to help frogs and salamanders cross and then come June I’ll help turtles. Animals move. For a variety of reasons. Depending on the species and time of year they may be looking for food, a mate, a place for their young, etc. The path they move along may not always be easy. Even fish encounter barriers to their movements.
As a child, I followed my Mom and Dad into the woods on all sorts of different adventures. I often participated in hobbies that my Dad enjoyed as a way to connect and spend time with him. My Dad taught me about photography, hiking, skiing and canoeing. As he got older, fly-fishing became nearly an obsession for him, and so, as a dutiful daughter, a fly fisherman I became.
Fred Ernst owns 670 acres of forestland in Acworth, NH. His interest in managing land for wildlife began during his career in a forest-based industry. As Fred describes it, “We practiced sustainability of forests and encouraging wildlife was a natural part of the process. When I bought the land in Acworth in 2001, the land had been “high graded” [most commercial quality trees removed], which had a lot to do with my ideas for improvement”.
With the amount of snow we’ve had on the ground this winter, it’s hard to believe that spring is here, but it is! The days are getting longer, birds are singing, and tree buds are starting to swell. Before we know it this snow will melt away – I promise, it really will – more migrating birds will return, filling our early mornings with their eager songs.
The Town of Easton, in northern Grafton County, has a way with coming up with catchy names. Their “Pastry and Preservation” conservation events have drawn local residents to enjoy good food and learn about the town’s natural resources. So no big surprise that they came up with “Got Wildlife?”, a creative activity to engage residents in recording wildlife sightings in town. They hung a map of town right outside the town clerk’s office (with permission, of course!) where there are often residents standing in line.
In today’s high tech world, children are too often disconnected from nature and have little experience with their natural environment. Schools do not have adequate support or experience to teach environmental subjects or connect students to local natural areas.
As we walk through the woods we see a 10-15” diameter aspen here and there plus an occasional clump amidst what would otherwise be characterized as a pine-oak-maple stand with some beech, paper birch, and white ash. We see stone walls and tote roads dividing up these woods into clear sections or blocks. And as we approach a small old field, we see a couple of scattered apple trees along the edge that are way past their prime.