WordPress friends, my apologies leaving you alone for so long! Honestly, I do not know where this semester went. Every time I wanted to sit down and write an update, time was whisked away by some pressing commitment.
I won’t mourn being off line. I never do. Life feels more real when I’m away from this space. Challenges that take me off the internet always bring me closer to people – family, friends, colleagues – and the organic world in which we live.
I want to share some extraordinary experiences with you from this spring. First, there was the 5th Life Discovery Conference (LDC) that I attended in Gainesville, Florida back in March. LDC is a Biology Science Education conference. This semester the central theme was biodiversity across scale, space, and time. The conference brought together educators from K-12 through undergraduate levels. I presented two talks at this conference, an eBird module that I developed for my conservation biology course, and a related work-in-progress on bumble bee biodiversity. LDC was highly interactive, with productive workshops, discussion tables, and lively exchanges during presentations. I came away deeply inspired by the people I met and the many ideas they shared about biodiversity and education.
Another great conference I attended was the annual meeting of the Midwest Great Lakes Society for Ecological Restoration (MGL-SER). Like LDC, I’d never attended an MGL-SER meeting. In fact, up until last year, I never considered myself a restoration ecologist. But I work on restored prairies now, so this was a club I needed to check out. Again like LDC, I came away deeply inspired.
More than a meeting of ecologists, MGL-SER brought together a network of professionals who work in various aspects of restoration, including farmers, city planners, and highway construction managers, to name a few. It made me reflect once more on the fact that for all the noise we hear on the internet, we sometimes find very little news – at least, not of the sort that inspires hope.
Did you know, for example, that for three decades the Iowa Department of Transportation has been restoring prairie within road rights-of-way? They’ve planted 202 square kilometers of native grasses and wildflowers, just along federal, state, county, and city roadsides! I mean, I had no idea. And Iowa’s right next door to where I live.
There were many juicy tidbits like this: amazing work done by great people from all walks. Sink your head too deep into the internet, and you might never hear about it. But get out there and talk to real people in the real world doing real work? You might just find your tribe – and your inspiration.
Speaking of inspirational tribes, no spring semester is complete without Dollbaby Week, my yearly retreat with some of the most powerful women I know, free spirits and writers all, whose companionship replenishes my soul. We wrote, we shared, we howled at the moon. We released our burdens from this past year and made our wishes for the future. We saw foxes and fishing hawks and even a whale.
That’s right – a whale! For the first time from our house on Virginia Beach, we spotted one of the ocean’s largest and most stunning creatures just off shore, swimming with the dolphins. It was one of the most magical moments I’ve ever experienced, and I hope to carry in my heart for a very long time.