Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Green Leadership Academy: A Bird in the Hand

Common interests bring people together. And so it was the case as GLADE campers arrived on the first day. Their intelligence and love for the outdoors they held in common. However, their backgrounds crossed lines of culture, income, and security. Our GLADE campers came from rich communities and poor communities, from urban settings and rural settings, from strong traditional families and highly dysfunctional families. But all of this was set aside as a common vision of a clean, green, and sustainable planet emerged over the course of a week.

Sunday evening was spent going over the essentials of camp life, discovering our new "Green Tool Kit", a backpack full of essentials, containing binoculars (thanks to Bass Pro Shops), field guides, work gloves, water bottles, and Leopold's A Sand County Almanac. After dinner, we began with an initiative game. The kids began to interact, and met their challenge easily. Monday morning Celeste Prussia opened the day with a motivational presentation on the challenges that we face in restoring, conserving, and protecting species worldwide. This was followed by Becky Gehringer's research on the effects of prescribed burns on Ozarks Woodlands. Students engaged in the work of the forester: measuring diameters, circumferences, and heights of trees, as well as collecting data on biodiversity using quadrants in burned and unburned area. While touring the Drury Mincy Conservation Area, students found that biodiversity can be increased and glades can be restored through the use of prescribed burns. Glades can be defined in the Ozarks as areas of extremely thin soils on slopes facing south or west, and characterized by extensive limestone/dolomite and chert outcroppings.

Monday evening licensed bird bander Andrew Kinslow was outstanding in his plight of the neotropicals presentation. We set up the mistnet for the next morning's activity.

At 6:00 am Tuesday morning, the mistnets were unfurled. Students were well versed on the ethics of mistnetting and eagerly awaited the first catch of the day. "Got one", echoed across the valley, and kids scurried to the net. The entangled bird was difficult to ID at first, probably because of the awkwardness of its predicament. I thought perhaps a Louisiana Waterthrush, but soon recognized it as a young Carolina Wren.
The bird was bagged and taken to the field station for measurements, aging, weighing, and banding. A few students were able to hold it, and became mesmerized, as a calm settled in on the group. The process repeated itself 4 more times during the early morning hours, with 2 Indigo Buntings, 1 Yellow-throated Vireo, and 1 Kentucky Warbler joining the list of mist netted and banded birds. There was magic in the air!But we had only begun. Dr. Brian Greene, Missouri State herpetologist, spent the rest of the day with us, busting myth after myth about Cottonmouths by sharing his research results with the students. We then ventured out to the herp ponds found in the conservation area, collecting multiple salamanders, frogs, and insect species. The evening ended near dusk as Brian shared his absolutely beautiful Cottonmouth, Copperhead, and Pygmy rattlesnake with the group before heading out for his periodic nocturnal amphibian monitoring. Could this academy get any better? Well, as a matter of fact, it was only Tuesday and there was much more to come!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow Greg, This whole event has been so impressive! What I wouldn't have given to have been afforded an opportunity such as this when I was this age! Thanks for all your great work with some might awesome leaders.

Sharon H