Spring semester has begun, and it is promising to be one best described as “overflowing.” I am taking a fuller course load and hoping to be more involved with a few volunteer activities, so my weeks are looking to be filled past capacity, but in a good way.
The past week has been the introduction to this semester theme. A few things from the week of thanksgiving-worthy opportunities:
One of my new classes for the spring semester is “Aerial Photography & General Information Systems (GIS).” Our first lab activity included a brief introduction to stereoscopy – the art and science of using binocular vision to achieve three-dimensional effects. Basically, you overlay / overlap 2 aerial photos (see the diagram) in such a way that when you view the photos using a stereoscope (think binoculars meet magnifying glass?) you obtain a 3D model. This is used in map making for the most part and understanding the topographic character of a forest area you are working in / researching.
When you first do this, and look down through the stereoscope you just see two blurred images. You feel that perhaps you’re not going to be able to make it work and also are thinking that this isn’t going to be all that exciting. But, as you gently and slowly move the images to get them to align properly, all of the sudden the 3D effect presents itself and you have the “gasp & awe” moment that comes upon you as a reflex. It is an exciting moment if you let it be…that sort of childish glee of suddenly seeing a rainbow is a close equivalent.
I am now a volunteer with Tree Fresno, an urban forestry community group that “advocates and participates in the revitalization of Fresno by planting trees and educating the the public about the proper care and maintenance of trees.” Before volunteering with this organization, to be honest, I had not thought much about urban forestry (or even knew that to be a thing at all). However, once introduced to the notion, it became clear that many people may never or may only very rarely travel to a forest. It just may not be a priority for their time or their money. So, the trees in their neighborhood and in their local park may be the only “forest” they really ever know. And trees are trees everywhere, and enabling the public to encounter and learn about trees in their “own back yard” is an excellent way to get the public to care about forests period.
Anyways, I spent one Saturday morning helping drag & pile brush from a popular trail along a canal in Fresno one day and a bit of an afternoon in a city park helping stake out locations for a tree planting that takes place today (Saturday, 17 January). I am very excited to be more involved with this group as the semester continues.
Environmental Educator Provider Workshop
Through Tree Fresno, I was given the opportunity to attend the “Environmental Educator Provider Workshop” this past Thursday at the Scout Island Outdoor Education Center (in Fresno, CA). The workshop had about 25 representatives from non-profits, the National Park Service, and even the zoo. The purpose was to instruct and brainstorm in how to incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in the hands-on environmental education talks / activities you (as an environmental educator) provide when addressing school groups. This was very beneficial for me to attend as a volunteer with Tree Fresno, but also as a forestry student who is considering a future career in interpretation. I felt quite fortunate to be able to participate in the day.
When I was first considering coming to the forestry & natural resources program at Reedley College, I was was reading the list of offered courses, and was surprised to see taxidermy as one of the offerings…and then became instantly smitten with the idea of taking it. This is not the only reason I chose Reedley, but it was a definite selling point.
Why be interested you say? Well, 3 reasons immediately come to mind for me:
1. It is a skill few people have (at least from where I come from), so, it has a lure on that level. (Bragging rights – yes it is vanity)
2. Since I hope to work for the National Forest Service or National Park Service in the future, or maybe a museum someday, you never know what you might get asked to do for a visitor center exhibit space…so it is good for resume building.
3. I am into the macabre, and there are few things more macabre then spending your Thursday evenings cutting open dead animals…and few more macabre hobbies then keeping your eye out on the road for “freshly departed critters”. Just sayin’
Thursday evening was our first meeting. We went over the basic supplies needed and the general how-to. This included a look at the tools we’ll use: scalpel, scissors, tweezers, needle + thread, forms (to stretch the skin over), salt (to dry out the skin), tumbler (to polish the fur). We then got a demonstration on how to skin a squirrel.
We need to get 3 or 4 more students enrolled by next week in order to get the class to fly. I have been trying to recruit and I so very much hope the class is not canceled. So hopeful am I, that I even endeavored in a little marketing campaign: Fur can be red, feathers often blue, the taxidermy class, is in need of you!
It has been a good first week.