It's all about the little things…

Tag Archives: wildlife

Week 51-Meet me in… Day 4-The Barn

Another beautiful Saturday spent working with animals.  I helped a couple of other graduate students with their research project today, and I loved every minute of it.  Plus we had the best BBQ sandwich I have had since moving to WV for lunch which totally made my day.  I also had to go out to the school farm and check on the cows for our lab’s research project.  As I was sitting up on top of the fence watching the cows, it hit me how lucky I am to be doing something I love.  I love animals.  I always have, and even though my career goals have changed since the age of 7, I am so thankful to truly be exactly where I am, doing exactly what I do.

I wish all barns had this view...

Being in grad school I am also surrounded by other people who love what they do.  Tina is one of those people, and you can tell she is passionate about wildlife from the first time you talk to her.  That’s why it was no surprise when I found out that she had founded the non-profit Wildlife Research & Conservation.  As the name pretty much indicates, WRC’s mission is to promote and support wildlife conservation through education and research.  WRC also works alongside zoological institutions to improve the welfare of captive animal populations.  WRC believes that these animals should be treated like the ambassadors from the wild that they are.  The knowledge that researchers are able to glean from these animals helps to improve the lives of their counterparts living in their natural environments in the wild.  WRC’s website also has a great Kids Corner with full coloring pages and facts that kids will love!  You gotta start ’em young.  That’s how I got hooked!  Even though I just discovered the non-profit Fauna & Flora International this evening, I can immediately see their passion for animals as well.  Even though they work with species that are much more rare than sheep and cows, I think we draw inspiration from the same place.  The teams that work at FFI have a special place in their hearts for the underdog.  Everyone wants to save and protect the cute cuddly animals, but they make sure that the creepy, crawly, and slimy animals like the Antiguan racer snake are protected as well.  Each animal creates a unique piece of the puzzle that we know as the world, and puzzles with missing pieces are no fun.  FFI works hard to make sure they save as many pieces as they can, no matter how small they may be.

Wildlife Research & Conservation Donation

Fauna & Flora International Donation

So here’s to the barn!  It’s the place where I learned to ride a horse, clean a stall, take a blood sample from a sheep, and ultrasound a pregnant goat.  You’ve kept me warm when it’s cold outside and dry when it’s wet.  You’re the place where I’ve shared lots of laughs and even a couple of tears.  Who knew you would be such an important place in my life.  Thanks for being my home away from home.

Like Vegas, but with more dirt

Week 40-All I needed to know, Day 7-I learned from experience

We have all kinds of experiences everyday that shape who we become.  Yesterday was a day full of exhausting experience that ended up with me not writing my blog, but hey, that’s life.  Luckily I know that I have fabulous readers out there who are understanding and patient with me.  Even on the days that life gets in the way of me typing up my thoughts I’m still in the habit of really taking step back and thinking about what I have to be thankful for.  Each day, each hour, each and every moment that we are alive is a tiny little gift that should be treasured.  If experience has taught me anything, its that life is what you make it. 

Life is about taking vacations, going to concerts, skydiving, and always pushing yourself to try something new.  One experience you would never forget is singing onstage with Avril Lavigne in London or Paris.  I realize not everyone out there likes Avril or even knows who she is, but even so you would remember being on stage in front of millions of people.  All of the proceeds from the auction to the Avril Lavigne Foundation that helps support children and youth living with serious illnesses and disabilities.  ALF (which was also a great show btw) was founded by the singer in 2010 and totally R.O.C.K.S.!  They Respect the needs of all children and youth; create Opportunity and Choices for individuals with serious illnesses or disabilities to follow their dreams; and provide Knowledge and Strength to help kids face their daily challenges.  Avril is proven that rock and roll is less about sex and drugs and more about love and philanthropy.  Some of my all-time favorite experiences have been around wildlife and the kind of beauty that stops you in your tracks because it only exists in nature.  The Wildlife Experience is so much more than a museum out in Parker, Colorado.  TWE wants to make sure that those who visit their walls leave feeling inspired to conserve the disappearing habitats of the wildlife living in our backyards.  TWE uses educational, hands-on, interactive, and entertaining experiences to make it stand out from other museums.  I mean where else can you walk through the 11 major ecosystems before lunch?  If you said nowhere, you win.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

The Avril Lavigne Foundation Donation

The Wildlife Experience Donation

So here’s to you experience!  You are the ultimate teacher in the classroom of life.  You make sure that we get plenty of passing and failing grades over the years.  Sometimes you are good and other times you’re bad, but with the right attitude you always teach us something.  Even if that something is to never try you again.  We have hundreds of you on any given day, and you never cease to amaze me.  Thanks for blowing my mind.  Repeatedly.

Week 39-What’s today again? Day 2-Jersday

That’s right folks, today is no longer known as Thursday, it is officially Jersday!  In case you’re still not sure what that means, it means that my night has been taken over by the Jersey Shore on MTV.  I can’t say that I’m proud of the fact that I can’t get enough of these fist pumping alcoholics, but sometimes trashy television is the perfect ending to a long day in the ivory tower.  And judge me if you want to but I think Vinny and Pauly D are absolutely hysterical.  I think the key to watching JS is knowing that while it is entertainment gold, there is (thankfully) so much more to the state of New Jersey than boardwalk fights and clubs with ridiculous names.

It's true, I do.

Even though the cast members of the JS could be considered a breed all their own, they don’t need special protection like some of the other wildlife in New Jersey, and yes there is actual wild animals.  That’ where the New Jersey Audubon Society steps up to the plate.  Founded way back in 1897, they protect birds, mammals, plants, and other wildlife in NJ especially those that are considered endangered or threatened species.  NJAS also encourages the people of NJ conserve and protect the valuable natural habitats of these flora and fauna, and spread the word to others.  NJAS also maintains 34 wildlife sanctuaries across the state, and presents educational programs to the public in its ten facilities.  I mean, New Jersey is the Garden State for a reason guys, I have even seen some beautiful areas with my own eyes!  For those of you who don’t watch the show, on the first season Snooki was hit in the face by a young man at a bar.  Clearly, this is no okay and organizations like Jersey Battered Women’s Service are there to help victims of this senseless violence.  JBWS works to prevent victims of domestic violence, and create a community that refuses to tolerate any type of violence between partners or within families.  JBWS has a 24-hour hotline, counseling services, a safe house, batterer’s intervention services, children’s services, and the list goes on and on.  For over 35 years JBWS has worked to keep New Jersey safe, and they aren’t stopping anytime soon.

New Jersey Audubon Society Donation

Jersey Battered Women’s Service Donation

So here’s to you Jersday!  You may have started with a small following but now you’re a pretty big deal.  You’re given new meaning to “Cabs are here!” and “It’s t-shirt time!”.  Once we’ve made it to you, our problems from Monday and Tuesday seem so far away.  You’re the prequel to Friday, so people already love you for that. Thanks for being so cool, even before JWow and Pauly D spray tanned your image.

Even the JS likes to Do Something!

Week 21-Go Green Week, Day 2-Water Conservation

Water has been a topic of discussion on this blog more than once, but we’re talking about conserving it and not providing it today.  Only 1% of the Earth’s water is drinkable so it’s obviously really important for us to make sure none of it goes to waste.  You can start going green and saving water in your very own bathroom right now!  Well maybe not right now, but after you read this blog.  You can start taking shorter showers, or a bath instead of a shower which can use less water.  You can also take the advice of Bernie Focker, “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.”  Hey, we all gotta do our part in the name of saving the planet.  I think you all know by now that I’m really thankful for my clean water, but I’m also thankful for the chance to provide water for future generations.

The Center for ReSource Conservation is on a mission to empower our community to conserve natural resources, like good ‘ole H2O.  Founded in 1976 CRC gives people easy tips and tricks to conserve water in their home, office, and your town.  They have even come up with a Garden-In-A-Box program where you can have beautiful flowers in your backyard and use half the water (at half the price!) you would with a traditional landscape design.  CRC also wants you to Slow Your Flow Indoors, and get your free indoor water use inspection if you’re a resident of Colorado.  In about an hour you can have a professional water auditor breakdown how you use your water, and what you can do to reduce your use.  Reduce your use, that’s pretty catchy.  If you think conserving water in our homes is important, then you’ll probably agree that conserving our oceans is pretty high up there on the list as well.  Oceana is the largest international group focused entirely on ocean conservation.  Over one million known species of plants and animals live under the sea, and scientist estimate that there could be upward of 9 million species yet to be discovered.  Oceana may be celebrating their ten-year anniversary this year but that doesn’t mean they’re slacking off.  Just last month they helped pass new conservation measures that will protect 16.1 million square miles of sea floor in the North Pacific Ocean from bottom trawling.  In case you don’t already love them, major celebs like James Cameron, Nicolas Cage, and Morgan Freeman are big supporters of this water-loving organization.

Center for ReSource Conservation Donation

Oceana Donation

So here’s to you water conservation!  You are the reason we still have clean water to drink and running water to take a shower with.  Without you we wouldn’t know the beauty of the creatures living below our vast oceans.  You are actually pretty easy to do if we just use our heads and make an effort.  Thanks for helping us make waves when our planet needs it most.

I'd say that pretty much sums it up

Week 2-People, Day 5-Wildlife Conservation Society

This summer I had the once in a lifetime, or twice for some people, opportunity to be a Teaching Fellow at the Bronx Zoo.  Even though the pay was not that great, and I was unable to take any type of summer vacation, I got to work with some really great people that will be my friends for life.  We were a motley crew for sure but we had a dynamic that kept us and the kids we taught laughing.  Our little holiday reunion last night in NYC reminded me how thankful I am for them, and the organization that brought us together for 11 weeks.

If it wasn’t for the Wildlife Conservation Society I would have never met all my fellow Fellows or had the great experience of teaching young minds about wildlife conservation.  This non-profit organization has been around for 115 years and helps supports over 500 conservation projects in 60 different countries, runs five different zoos/aquarium, and teaching millions of people each year about conservation.  Yea, they’re kind of a big deal.  Can you imagine a world without lions, or tigers, or bears? Oh my! By supporting the WCS you ensure that your kids, and their kids, and hopefully their kid’s kids will know and love wildlife.  You don’t even have to give any money to make a difference.  Below is a link where you can write your senator and urge them to support the Global Conservation Act of 2010.  I’m gonna write my senator right after I finish this blog!

Donate to Wildlife Conservation Society

Save the tigers!  Write your senator about the Global Conservation Act of 2010

So here’s to you Wildlife Conservation Society!  You help save tiger’s habits, save western lowland gorillas, and protect the lemurs in Madagascar.  Baba Dioum said it best, “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”

Week 1-Food, Day 4-Tomato

Anyone who knows me knows that I looovvee tomatoes.  And when I say love, I mean eat a tomato right off the vine like an apple love.  Plus being from the South there is nothing better in the middle of a hot summer than a fresh tomato sandwich and a cold glass of sweet tea.  Take a second and think of all of the great food/sauces/condiments that wouldn’t exist without the tomato.  Ketchup (#1 in my book for sure), spaghetti, BBQ sauce, salsa, hot sauce, chili, tomato soup, and the ever popular pizza pie.

As much as I searched, and hoped,I couldn’t find a charity that donated tomatoes to the needy (besides the obvious food bank).  What I was able to find were some really unique ways tomatoes were used to help support great charities.  In Reno, Nevada thousands of people showed up and donated $10 so they could throw tomatoes at each other! The second annual La Tomatina en Reno raised over $20,000 for the American Cancer Society and gave people a reason to dress up and have a little fun.  What a great charity to donate to considering tomatoes contain lycopene which is an antioxidant that may help protect against cancer.  In Loxahatchee, Florida Leeann Connelly used profits from her home grown heirloom tomatoes to support the Loxahatchee Wildlife Center.  When donations began to drop about seven years ago she had to come up with new creative ways to raise funds in order to support the rehabilitation and release of wildlife.  Click on the links below.

American Cancer Society

Friends of the Loxahatchee Refuge

A tomato a day may not keep the doctor away, but it sure does make me a happy person.  So whether you like a nice slice of pizza or a good salsa on your taco, take a minute and be thankful for the nutritious and delicious vegetable (that is technically a fruit).