It's all about the little things…

Tag Archives: nature

Week 48-Costumes and Charities, Day 7-Angry Birds

It’s the day after Halloween and most people are walking around in a candy induced coma, but at least we’re happy.  To me, this time of year really starts to happen in fast forward.  Next is my birthday (don’t forget to tell all your friends about my charity: water campaign!), then Thanksgiving, and Christmas is here before we know it.  The next best thing to do today besides chow down on candy is play Angry Birds.  Those mean little birds also happen to be a very popular costume this year.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky.  It is seriously addicting.  On the upside, I am thankful it entertained me on the bus. 

My friend Rachael always said she would have chosen to do research with birds if you didn’t have to get up so early in the morning.  I agree that birds, especially the pretty ones, would be a great species to study.  Before our little jaunt to Canada a couple of weeks ago I would have probably skipped right over the Bird Studies Canada organization, but not anymore.  I was pleasantly surprised at all the beauty ‘ole Canada had to offer.  BSC works to advance the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds in their natural habitats.  BSC thrives off the enthusiasm and contributions of volunteer avid bird watchers and scientists across more than just Canada.  BSC makes doing research and bird watching fun, and also not so dang early in the morning.  Every year they have a 24-hour Birdathon, Christmas Bird Counts, and a 48-hour Project Feeder Watch program from November to May.  We can’t watch all the birds there are at once, but together we can all watch some of them.  Even though raptors are little bit bigger and a little less friendly than your average pet store parakeet, the Carolina Raptor Center protects a powerful birds of prey.  Founded back in 1981, CRC rehabilitates injured and orphaned birds, and educates the public about how to become stewards of these unique birds.  More than 40,000 students are reached through the CRC’s education programs each year, and they have over 35,000 visitors each year to their Raptor Trail where there are more than 25 different species of raptors to see and learn about.  CRC also does research on parasitology and poisoning that affect raptors, and new surgical techniques that can help these birds.  Leave it to NC to embrace these angry birds.

Bird Studies Canada Donation

Carolina Raptor Center Donation

So here’s to you Angry Birds!  You’re right there on our phones when we need to be entertained in the car or avoid that weird person trying to talk to us on the bus.  You’re red, yellow, blue, explosive, and shot straight out of a cannon.  Just when we think we’ve beat you, you come out with a whole new addition!  Maybe that’s why you were so popular at Halloween this year, so we could capture you once and for all.  Thanks for keeping our boredom to a minimum, and sucking up the battery life of our phones.    

Week 43-Fall Favorites, Day 1-Chloropyll-less Leaves

This week in the in lab, I’m teaching my students about what makes plants green.  For all of my virtual students out there, it is the chlorophyll in the leaves of the plants which give them their green colors.  We also discuss how in the fall chlorophyll is the first pigment to die off, so the other accessory pigments (which makes the leaves turn pretty colors like orange, yellow, and red) get their chance to shine.  Walking around campus today I was also noticing the tops of trees starting to realize that fall will be here in just two days.  Fall is my favorite season for soooooo many reasons, but the beautiful changing leaves still take my breath away.  Thank you Mother Nature.

Leaf peeping for one please!

Trees are beautiful, but they’re also useful.  They help us breathe, they give us shade, and they even grow food for us, all in addition to just being pretty.  It’s no wonder that the non-profit Trees Forever has been working since 1989 to connect us with the trees that provide for us.  Obviously you can tell by their name that they are concerned about planting new trees, but TF also empowers individuals, builds communities, and promotes stewardship.  TF works in Iowa and Indiana to make curbsides beautiful, downtown streets scapes green and lush, and add some pazazz to bicycle and hiking trails.  Thanks to TF over 160,000 volunteers have given up over a million hours of their time to plant more than 2.8 million trees and shrubs, and help complete over 4,000 community projects.  TF envisions a place where people are able to sustain where they live, work, and play by planting and caring for trees.  I’d say they’re off to a pretty good start.  The American Forest Foundation wants you to visit your local forest!  They also want you to make sure that we preserve the gorgeous forests that are scattered across our nation for generations to come.  Go ahead and think about every cliche saying about how our children are the future and we have to show them the way, and how we only preserve the thing we love, because they apply to this scenario.  Having said that, I know that I really do want to take care of our forests for my children to see.  How else are they going to learn that chlorophyll is what gives plants their color?

Trees Forever Donation 

American Forest Foundation Donation 

So here’s to you chlorophyll-less leaves!  You have consumed my eyes and my brain so far this week, but I’m enjoying it so it’s cool.  You’re the trademark of autumn and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The vibrant oranges, yellows, and fiery reds ignite this desire in me to put on a wool sweater and drink a warm caffeinated drink.  You may be chlorophyll-less, but you’re full of life.  Thanks for warming me up from the inside out.

All roads are headed to Fall! 🙂

Week 39-What’s today again? Day 1-Hump Day

It’s officially all downhill from here folks.  We have climbed over Monday and Tuesday and we’re sliding down the back side of Wednesday.  Only two more days left until the glorious weekend.  I overheard several people greet their friends with a “Happy Hump Day” as they passed them on the way to class today.  I funny thing is, I knew it was Wednesday but hearing that it was hump day automatically put a smile on my face.  Hey, if you can’t make the best out of the day you’re in then what can you do?

Hump Day mascots!

So I knew I wanted to write about this since this morning, but the rest of my day was dedicated to figuring out what in the heck kind of charity would fit with today’s theme.  Luckily my days as a Teaching Fellow at the Bronx Zoo came back to me and I remembered that there is one particular animal that has a hump, or two.  That’s right, camels!  Camels are actually the eighth most endangered large mammal on the planet, but the Wild Camel Protection Foundation is working to change that.  WCPF is also the only organization that has the specific mission of saving the camel and preserving its unique habitat from being destroyed.  Founded in 1997, WCPF works in the Lop Nur Nature Reserve in Northwest China and the Southwest of Mongolia to help the population of wild camels thrive.  There are over 2 million domesticated camels in Asia compared to the 950 camels that are living naturally in the wild.  So hopefully now on Wednesdays you’ll think, “Yay it’s hump day and I need to make sure those wild camels don’t become extinct.”  Even though it’s only shares a name with this beautiful animal, the Camel Springs Conservation Easement is also a haven for animals living in northern Washington state.  The 560 acre preservation site is situated around McCartney Creek, which is critical in proving water for one of the largest shrub-steppe habitats left in the state of WA.  CSCE is just a small piece of the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust that is devoted to protecting the clean air and water, thriving wildlife population, and beautiful natural areas in Chelan and Douglas counties.  I love small local organizations like CDLT that protect specific areas of our beautiful country so I can enjoy them one day.  That sounds a little selfish but you know what I mean.  I think sometimes we forget how much natural beauty surrounds us in our own 50 states, but we have to be sure that it stays that way.

Wild Camel Protection Foundation Donation

Chelan-Douglas Land Trust Donation

So here’s to you Hump Day!  You’re right up there with Friday in my book, because you represent the great accomplishment of making it halfway through another week.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you’re that little reminder to push through for just a couple more days.  And let’s face it, bars and restaurants must love you because they always have great specials when you’re around.  Thanks for breaking up the week for us, having such a fun nickname.  

Week 32-Ramblin’ Roads, Day 4-Asheville

It is a beautiful day here in Asheville, NC!  Jessie and Logan are getting married today, the sun is shining, and I get to share it all with my wonderful family.  Scott and I had a great time last night at the rehearsal dinner and slept like babies in our comfy hotel bed.  We slept in, had a great brunch at this little organic cafe, and then strolled around downtown Asheville looking at the sights and shops.  All in all, a perfect start to what promises to be a day to remember.  With all the wonderful little independent shops and great restaurants around town, you can tell Asheville is a community of people who welcomes everyone with open arms.  I’m so thankful to be here to share in Jessie and Logan’s special day, but I’m even more thankful that places like Asheville still exist and thrive.

Today is your day Jessie and Logan!

Ashevile is known as the land of the sky, and that doesn’t even do it justice for how gorgeous the scenery really is.  So it’s no big surprise that The American Chestnut Foundation has called Asheville home since it began in 1983.  They are restoring a species to its native land in the woodlands of the eastern United States, and helping to establish a blueprint on how to restore other tree and plant species.  TACF has turned to science in order to successfully research and breed the American chestnut tree.  American chestnuts were crucial to the economies of rural communities who depended on their nut harvest and lumber potential in order to survive.  TACF harvested its first blight free nuts back in 2005, and they hope to begin reforestation with this line by the end of the decade.  TACF is also in the business of teaching our nation’s youth about the importance of this tree so they can be sure and protect it for years to come.  Another organization that you may not think of when you think of Asheville is the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.  Twenty years ago if a child was diagnosed with a brain tumor, they were essentially given a death sentence, because so little research was being conducted about this disease.  Thanks to organizations like PBTF that is no longer the case today.  They have been working since 1991 to find the cause of and cure for childhood brain tumors, increase public awareness about the disease, develop better methods for early detection, and provide support for children and their families who are in the midst of being affected by a tumor.  PBTF is the world’s largest non-governmental funding source for children’s brain tumor research.  The passion for the mission and compassion they show their patients will help them eradicate this terrible disease forever.  I love when people dream big and do everything in their power to make it happen.

The American Chestnut Foundation Donation

Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation Donation

So here’s to you Asheville!  You have great food, wonderful people, and amazing views!  I know you are a place that I will be back to visit many more times.  It’s no wonder that people want to vacation and get married here, because you exude the charm of Paris.  Thank you for holding onto your roots, and letting them grow to support a community that makes the world a better place.

Downtown Asheville