What to say when the Sierra Club comes calling
Thanks---that's always a good place to start.
A few weeks ago, I got a call from the Sierra Club. That was exciting. The Sierra Club is an old and respected American environmental organization started by John Muir in 1892. On the phone was a journalist, Daniel Walton, calling from Kentucky. Walton told me about a story he was writing for Sierra Magazine, and said he’d found out about my community science work––specifically bumble bee work––through an internet search.
“When I read your newsletter I could tell you loved the Xerces Atlas project,” Walton said. I replied yes, then we chatted about Kentucky for a little while, because I’m basically from there too, having been born and raised near the TN/KY state line and being a Hilltopper.1
“Anyway,” Walton said, reining the conversation back in, “I could tell you were so proud to be the only one to catch a bumble bee on your training day.” I replied with, ahh, beginner’s luck, ya know, but honestly I was happy he mentioned it because it’s a sweet memory for me, plus it meant he’d read my July 19 newsletter (“When bumble bees get a chance to to just chill”) with care.
The upshot of all this is that I was an eager and talkative interviewee for Walton, and now his complete story for the Fall 2023 Sierra Magazine has been published! The link is below:
Tiny Census, Big Impacts Thanks to the Southeast Bumble Bee Atlas. By Daniel Walton for Sierra Magazine.
I know you’ll want to read the whole thing. . .
. . . but if you’re one of those skimmers always in a rush to zoom in on the best part, well, here you go:
The part about me in the Sierra Club article:
“Given these headwinds, the atlas’s backers hope that, beyond its scientific value, the work will encourage broader public awareness and advocacy. Hamon with Xerces notes that nearly 300 people have gone through in-person training sessions for the project, and an online orientation video has close to 800 views.
That’s been the case for Pamela Zendt, a professional writing graduate student at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University and editor of The Everyday Scientist, a weekly newsletter. She attended an August training session and conducted several surveys near Rockmart, about 50 miles northwest of Atlanta.
Zendt says participating in the atlas has given her a new appreciation for the insects and the ecological role they play as pollinators. It’s given her a sharper eye, allowing her to notice the bees’ yellow saddlebags of pollen and the tear-shaped head dot that marks the common eastern bumblebee.
It’s also brought her a new source of joy: watching bees emerge from the deep trumpets of flowers, absolutely covered in pollen. “They’re like kids in a candy store—it’s so cute,” she says with a laugh.”
Critters learn to cope with a tightrope.
Meanwhile, I’m still in Australia, so I’m learning a lot and contributing to community science via the iNaturalist app.
Here are two weird but telling photos once you know what you are seeing. The images below relate to my Oct. 17 issue, “Roadkill. A problem that is getting worse.”
As you know, we’ve developed many animal habitats for human use, and we’ve subdivided many other natural spaces as well. These photos, taken on the A1 superhighway which is near the Gold Coast, show an original solution to help small critters move about in ways that come (somewhat) natural for them.
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Graduate of Western Kentucky University. They built it on a hill.