26 April 2013

Big Picture

Although we tend to see ourselves as superior to other species, we may actually underestimate the force with which we influence nature.

However, we are beginning to see just how far our reach stretches, and Lords of Nature, a documentary about top predators and the human impacts on them, adds to that understanding. The film has recently been released to YouTube by Green Fire Productions, which produces films about conservation and sustainability. Because it's on YouTube, I thought I would do something new and use this blog to show a whole film. You can watch it below:

What I find most interesting about the film is that even though we know we have the power to eradicate species, we have been blind to the deeper connections to nature that such power creates.

As it turns out, we do have great power, and we are deeply ingrained in natural systems. The sooner we completely understand how that power is related to those systems, the better it will be for everything on the planet.

21 April 2013

Shared View

One of the reasons photographs are worth a thousand words is because good ones are usually the product of photographers sharing tips and ideas.

I'm always on the lookout for photographers who might have insight for me, and this blog entry from the National Wildlife Federation provides some good suggestions from a young photographer who won the youth category in NWF's photography contest two years ago.

I can personally attest to the recommendations about getting out regularly and taking lots of pictures. At least for me, photography is something that requires work and practice. The more I do it on a consistent basis, the better my pictures are. Also, because I am far from professional, I need to take many versions of the same shot if possible (this can be hard with nature photos). 

I never feel badly about taking a lot of pictures because I usually end up with at least a few that I really like. While I may end up with more failed executions of shots, the ones that work leave a great feeling.

If you've taken some nature photos that you think turned out well, you might consider entering them in this year's NWF contest. It is open until July 15.

After you win, don't forget to share the secrets to your success.

17 April 2013

Class Notes

The process of learning about the environment never stops.

A recent podcast from BirdNote shows some of the new strategies teachers are using to discuss environmental issues. Jessie Soder, a teacher in Alaska, has discovered the BirdNote podcasts and employed them as teaching aids in her class.

Through the development of technology, classroom instruction is becoming more dynamic and interactive. Teachers who embrace this possibility can enhance their ability to bring the environment to life for students.

12 April 2013

Growing Knowledge

Plants aren't the easiest things to know by name, but now residents of the Pacific Northwest can have the names of more than 870 regional plants in the palm of their hands.

In this news release, the Burke Museum Herbarium at the University of Washington announces a new smart phone app that people can use to identify plant species in Washington state and the surrounding area.

It is great that the app works without Internet connection and that part of the proceeds from the sale of it go to conservation.

Apps like this plant the seeds of greater knowledge of and connection with the environment.

09 April 2013

Canada's Wild

While the current generation of decision makers in Canada roll back environmental protections and seek fossil fuels at any cost, the future looks a little brighter with organizations like Earth Rangers and its Bring Back the Wild campaign.

Earth Rangers is an organization that encourages children to become involved in environmental issues, and the Bring Back the Wild campaign focuses on protecting species. (You may remember last year's post about a girl trying to save pine martens.)

This year, children are raising funds to protect the Oregon spotted frog, the badger, the polar bear, and the wood thrush. By entering the competition, they have the chance to win one of four trips to the Arctic. Check out the video below:

Whales Trails and Polar Bear Tales Contest from Earth Rangers on Vimeo.

Canada's environmental reputation has taken some serious hits lately, but the children of Earth Rangers may turn things around in the coming years.

06 April 2013

Natural Interest

Books with facts about animals have a special power. Out of nowhere, they'll catch my interest, and once I begin reading, I'll become engrossed, turning a spontaneous decision into serious study.

The facts in those books pull me in with the strength of a short story or novel, and they had the same effect when I was a child.

More and more books are being written to let kids make the most of their interest in nature. Go Explore Nature recently reviewed one such book. First Animal Encyclopedia gives facts about many different types of animals and provides suggestions for helping children learn about them firsthand.

Having an interest in learning about nature is great, but children also need to have access to the information they crave. This book looks like one of those they can't help but reach for if it's around.