Monday, October 5, 2009

WCN 2009! Dr. Jane Goodall Says Hello to My Students

This past Saturday I attended the 8th annual WCN Wildlife Conservation Expo in San Francisco. I saw a host of incredible speakers, all of them conservation heroes working in the field to protect various endangered species from the myriad of threats facing them in the wild. They presented their organizations’ challenges and successes through eye-opening speeches and PowerPoint presentations, and greeted attendees out in the lobby at their respective tables to answer questions and sell products to fundraise for their organizations. If you haven’t been to this event before, I highly recommend it for next year. Visit the WCN website and mark your calendars!

One of the major highlights from the day: I got to see one of my favorite conservation groups again, Painted Dog Conservation. This group does incredible work to save Zimbabwe’s remaining populations of African wild dogs, also know as painted dogs, amidst the turmoil of a country under a president who seems bent on destroying his own people. Painted Dog Conservation does as much for the people of this devastated land as it does for its dogs. Greg Rasmussen and Peter Blinston, the director and project manager of PDC, are excellent and humorous presenters, and their passion for the wildlife they protect and the children of Zimbabwe they educate is infectious and heart-warming.

Also worth mentioning: PDC has the best stickers ever. They never chip, fade, or disintegrate. I have one on my laptop, my water bottle, my car, my dresser in my bedroom, my classroom wall, and I also have one of their patches stitched into my duffle bag. This Saturday I bough ten more (the volunteer behind the counter, Renee, who works with painted dogs at a facility in Vancouver, recognized me from last year, when I bought six stickers.)

And of course, the big banana was when I got to see Dr. Jane Goodall and her assistant Mary Lewis again. Dr. Jane Goodall gave a wonderful speech, which provided for me a fresh shot of inspiration. She has an incredible way of doing that; revitalizing your passion for conservation by talking about her own, by providing stories of hope and success, and for saying the words with total conviction: “Never give up.”

After her speech, I met up with her outside, and asked her to say hello to my students on camera. She sweetly obliged, and now I can’t wait to show my class! Here she is:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It has been an absolutely crazy summer! The amount of traveling I have been doing with my wife has been extraordinary, and it has been wonderful to finally visit some new places. Oahu was of course brilliant. About a week ago we just returned from a camping trip in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, which was quite the experience. Besides being stared at everywhere I went (not many brown folks out there), it was amazing to visit such a different type of mountainous forest, which is rain forest, as it gets over 80 inches of rain a year!

Soon I'm off again, this time to the Southwest. I'm so excited, it will be my first time to the Grand Canyon! I'm studying up before I go, trying to learn all I can about the environments I will immerse myself in, and all about the animals of the deserts I hope to come across. Studying up in this way before traveling always makes my trips so much more fulfilling. I'll take plenty of pictures!! See you all soon!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Common Myna

This little bird was all over Oahu!

They were brought over from India in 1865 to control cutworms and army worms, which were destroying the islands' sugarcane crops. But once on the island they started breeding like crazy, forcing out previously established bird populations and spreading Lantana camara, a really aggressive tropical weed that pushes out native plant communities.


Back from Oahu!

Aloha! Sorry I've been MIA, I was hoping to write write write once school was over, but I've been busier than I expected! I've been doing awesome stuff though, so no one's complaining. :)

First thing first: I went to Hawaii last week, and had an absolute blast. I stayed on the North Shore of Oahu, the surfing capital of the world, well removed from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu and Waikiki. I was able to enjoy a truly spectacular array of natural wonders. Each island is made up of incredible microclimates, al of which can be explored indefinitely! There is never enough time to enjoy and learn about Hawaii's amazing ecosystems!

One thing is undeniable about Oahu: the elements are always in motion. The ocean churns, and is constantly beating against the shores. The clouds are constantly shifting with the winds. The winds rush against the mountains on the Eastern side of the island, pushing up and cooling, condensing into rain. The rain forms rushing streams and waterfalls, eroding and carving dramatic ridges in the face of the towering mountains. The mountains themselves are rich in silica and mineral-saturated, wet earth, and so become covered in ferns trees and becomes rainforest. On the leeward side, the earth is drier, suited for agriculture. The sun shines bright and hot and supports a wealth of life. The water, warm, harbors reefs of unique and pristine beauty. Oahu is an always moving, breathing island, sheltered by the sky, surrounded by the sea, supported by the earth, bathed in rain, and is fueled by the fiery bellows from underground. It is impossible not to feel this energy while you are there, not to have an emotional response that touches your heart!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ursa Freedom Project & EcoPaparazzi

OK, a big score: My moon bear fundraising video was featured on Animal Asia's website! Sweet! Check it out HERE. It also is featured on a very cool site dedicated to helping the cause for moon bears, called the Ursa Freedom Project (of which I am now a member). I have yet to explore this site thoroughly, but the woman who runs it also invited me to join EcoPaparazzi, another networking site for those sharing a passion to act to preserve and protect the planet. Again, I have yet to explore, but they look like interesting sites. Check them out:

Hope everyone is well! Summer is finally here for me. Yesterday was my last day teaching 5th grade. It was emotional and bittersweet saying goodbye to the kids, but I am excited for what's to come. Next stop...Hawaii!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Let's Talk Wolves

OK, so I'm about to come clean with all of you. For those who don't know me, I am a huge Twilight Saga fan, and this weekend the trailer for New Moon, the second book of the series, premiered (FINALLY!) at the MTV Movie Awards. OK, so what does this have to do with wildlife? Well, there's wolves in it, for one thing!! Huge, giant, awesome, wolves! Check out the trailer. It is awesome. The movie is going to be awesome.

(The video below is widescreen, so the right third is a bit cut off. Click on the video to follow the link back to YouTube to view it in all its awesome splendor.)

Even though I am totally stoked for the movie, I feel compelled to take this opportunity to share some actual information about the wolf situation in Alaska. Many of you heard about Governor Sarah Palin's aerial wolf killing campaign, which got her a lot of attention during her time as a potential candidate for vice president. While it is touted as a means to keep up a healthy relationship amongst the wildlife of the region, as well as to protect livestock, the campaign is in truth an active measure to control the population of predators so as to maintain a healthy population of elk for human sport hunters.

Many just started hearing about this for the first time, however this practice started in 2003 under the governorship of Frank Murkowski. Huge amounts of money have been invested by hunting lobbyists since then so as to maintain this wonton slaughter. To date, the Defenders of Wildlife have recorded the number of wolves killed since 2003 at 1074, 241 having been killed this season alone.

Wolves have had a long history of oppression in this country. The only way to ensure that their future is a brighter one is by making your voice heard. Speak out for wolves and their right to exist as a part of Alaska's healthy ecosystems, just as they have for thousands of years, by sending a pre-written message, courtesy of Defenders of Wildlife, HERE.

Or, visit for more information.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Can Breathe!

Well, I never thought I would see the day, but my grad course work is done for the year! Woo hoo! I'm still student teaching full time in the 5th grade class I've been with all semester, but my graduate courses are finito. I can breathe again. And update my blog!

I wanted to share with you something very cool--the CEO, Jill Robinson, of Animals Asia saw my Moon Bear Fundraising Movie and liked it, and today I was contacted by the US Outreach Coordinator who requested permission to post it on the website! Woo hoo! I'm so excited that it will soon be seen by more than just my immediate circle of friends and family. The whole point of that movie was to inspire others to find ways in which to organize and assist conservation organizations. This might be a way to get the word out and make that happen. So exciting!

Here is the final version:

Last awesome point of interest: If you go to Jill's Blog and scroll down a bit, you will see that the Opening of the Double Bear House and Enclosures was attended by two of my favorite women--Dr. Dame Jane Goodall and Maggie Q! I've met Jane Goodall, drove her around last year when she visited the zoo, love and look up to her, have read her books, and I look forward to seeing her this year at WCN. And...but...oh my gosh, Maggie Q! I've been watching her movies since 2004! She rocks! She kicks butt, is beautiful, and puts out consistently good, responsible, messages and energy to the public. Awesome! That must have been an amazing event.

OK, off to bed. Field trip tomorrow to Aquarium of the Bay with my students!

Protect Wildlife!