Hispanics

American Robin, Courtesy US NPS Will Elder, Photographer
American Robin,
Courtesy US NPS
Will Elder, Photographer

World Migratory Bird Day logo courtesy & © Environment for the Americas, EFTA World Migratory Bird Day logo from
Environment for the Americas
Connecting People to Bird Conservation and Inspiring the
Next Generation of Conservationists
Courtesy & © Environment for the Americas, EFTA

This WAU is intended to honor a very special demographic in our state. We have labeled them Hispanic, or more recently Latinx. I was blessed in my early Michigan years with neighbors of this ethnicity who enriched my live in many ways, including in natural landscapes. They planted a large garden to support their substantial family, some of the produce coming our way, even though they had little to spare. The family patriarch led his flock as minister for the West Side Gospel Tabernacle and found great joy in watching me spit out flaming hot red peppers.

We spent many summers swimming, fishing, frog and turtle catching, bird nest and baby mammal discovering, and reveling in a gravel pit, which had dipped into an aquifer creating some life-filled ponds surrounded by willow and cottonwood trees. This family was a major influence on whom I’ve become, with a special fondness for their rich culture and our natural surroundings.
As an educator, my Latinx students have shared their knowledge and talents on many occasions. Their leadership role for our Utah Conservation Corps Bilingual crews building trails, fences, and invasive plant control in our parks and forests has been a joy to be a part of. On one of our outings, a student revealed how saliva can quickly subdue the pleasantries of a stinging nettle encounter. I’ve found the senior members frequently have vast native plant knowledge from their homelands, so we have a lively exchange while they compare our local plant virtues with theirs found south of the border.

As seasonal faculty for a Colorado State University program, we recruit underserved college students from numerous campuses both in and out of country, many of whom are Hispanic. We take them into the national parks, beginning with Teton and Yellowstone. The students are engaged in various citizen science activities including pica and bat surveys, native plant restoration, and pollinator transects. They meet with park administration, and are invited to share thoughts on how to manage their parks in a sustainable manner.

The parks have gained in many ways from their presence, and have adopted some of their ideas. Additionally, these students have added considerably to the parks databases from their inventories and pollinator transects. They especially appreciate our diverse collection of students, several of whom have become part of the park and forest staff following the experience.
For those Latinx students and others who have an interest in birds and education, I strongly recommend visiting the Environment for the Americas, an excellent program that connects birds and people from both sides of the border.

Last weekend I offered a Bridgerland Audubon bird outing for Latinx families and others behind the Logan River Estates trailer park. Although none joined us, there will be other opportunities in the future, for I’m fully aware they have interest from many past experiences.

This is Jack Greene for BAS, and I’m wild about Utah and how it has benefited from our Hispanic people.

Credits:
Pictures: Courtesy US NPS, Will Elder, Photographer
World Migratory Bird Day/Environment for the Americas logo: Courtesy & Copyright © Environment for the Americas
Audio: Courtesy & Copyright Kevin Colver, https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/
Additional Reading: Lyle W Bingham, Webmaster, and Jack Greene, Author, Bridgerland Audubon, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading:

Jack Greene’s Postings on Wild About Utah, https://wildaboututah.org/author/jack/

Environment for the Americas, https://environmentamericas.org/
Other Environment for the Americas sites:

 
World Migratory Bird Day illuminates the dark side of light pollution, UN News, United Nations, May 13, 2022, https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/05/1118262#:~:text=World%20Migratory%20Bird%20Day%20is,the%20northern%20and%20southern%20hemispheres

Going In With a Child’s Naturalist Eye

Going In Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
Going In
Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
In Kathryn Lasky’s picture book “One Beetle Too Many”, we read, “Charles [Darwin] learned the names of everything he collected, for to know the names of these things was important, and it might be the one time when adults would actually listen to a child speak.” As an elementary school teacher, I ponder its message, reflecting on my wilderness experiences enriched by children. In fact, some of my best discovery days have been when I was led by a curious child.

As a Stokes Nature Center camp leader one summer, my focus for the day was on alpine forest plants as we set out on a northern Utah trail. I carried plant presses and field guides, ready to teach how to identify a Douglas fir from a Lodgepole pine and to have them hug quaking aspens blindfolded to discover distinguishing characteristics of each trunk. These youngsters were going to learn every forest fact I could share, I thought, but they quickly taught me the meaning of naturalist John Muir’s quote: “I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

Black Fly Larvae Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
Black Fly Larvae
Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
Not thirty steps from the trailhead, I witnessed natural inquiry at its best, and it was facilitated by these seven- and eight-year-olds. Few things are as fascinating and magnetizing as running water, and they’d found some. The day before, we’d hiked along Temple Sawmill beaver ponds, scooping up stonefly and midge larvae and designing our own dams, so I was gearing up for another muddy adventure. Instead of sloshing, though, Franny instantly noticed some wiggly black things stuck to the rocks, and the children huddled together around the smooth rocks in the trickle, peering at them with their hand lenses in this impromptu sit spot. “Hey, do you still have that water bug chart?” one asked me. We veered from the day’s alpine plant plan and made friends with what the kids decided, using a macroinvertebrate key, were black fly larvae. They noted the mouth brush filters and abdominal features allowing these critters to anchor to the stones. I would have led them right by, never noticing the rich possibilities of exploring the natural world through a child’s eyes. I am sometimes guilty of tunnel vision without a young companion, only noticing what I know or am expecting to find.

Nathan's Mac & Cheese Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
Nathan’s Mac & Cheese
Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
That same June I was hiking in the Manti-LaSals with my nephew when he reminded me of the message in another of Muir’s statements, “One day’s exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books.” We sat down when he heard the sounds of a woodpecker busy in the treetops, making wisecracks about how it can peck like that and not get a headache. Our sit spot observation led me later to find answers: did you know that woodpeckers have special muscles and extra inner eyelids? I admit that it was Nathan, the hiker without the Utah Master Naturalist certifications, who spotted what looked like macaroni and cheese on the branch as we moved on and proceeded to tell me that he thought it was a fungus, much like a young Darwin who said, “I am a complete millionaire in odd and curious facts.” Next time you go out, take along a child. You’ll be a millionaire, too.

I’m Shannon Rhodes, and I am wild about Utah.

Credits:
Images: Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/
Text:     Shannon Rhodes, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Shannon Rhodes

Additional Reading:

EcoSpark. https://www.ecospark.ca/black-fly

Lasky, Kathryn. One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin. Candlewick Press, 2009.https://www.amazon.com/One-Beetle-Too-Many-Extraordinary/dp/0763668435

Mertins, Brian. How to increase curiosity with nature. https://nature-mentor.com/increase-curiosity/

Natural History Museum of Utah. https://nhmu.utah.edu/citizen-science

O’Connor, Mike. Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Headaches? And other bird questions you know you want to ask. Beacon Press, 2007.https://www.amazon.com/Why-Dont-Woodpeckers-Get-Headaches-ebook/dp/B001GQ1TCK/

Stokes Nature Center. http://logannature.org/

Utah State University Extension. Key to Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Life in Utah Ponds and Streams. https://extension.usu.edu/waterquality/macrokey/

Wolfe, Linnie Marsh. John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1938.https://www.amazon.com/John-Mountains-Unpublished-Journals-Muir/dp/0299078841