Hands-on in Paraguay

a change is going to come

Going Paraguay seemed like just another step in my rapidly transitioning life. I had just bought a new house, endured heartbreak, and then hopped on a plane thousands of miles away leaving the dust the settle in my absence. I have always been enthralled with change and thrived on my ability to adapt and be resilient. I didn’t know going in just how what I would learn would impact me, both while I was there, and upon return.

The Expedition to Paraguay fit in with both my academic Master Plan, as well as with the direction my professional life has been taking. We met the staff at Para La Tierra (PLT) on our first day, and I was immediately captivated by their mission and motivations; they were the same as mine. They, however, had created something tangible, meanwhile, I am still parsing through the actions I want to come to fruition. The work that Karina, Paul, Joseph, Jorge, and Becca have been doing is absolutely inspiring. What I especially loved was the connection between conservation science and education. It was apparent that both of these fields had glaring needs that were not being met on a national or cultural level, and PLT has the drive to build that connection within their community.

My new butterfly friend who was just reminding me that I am going to make it through the change (we hung out for a while).

My new butterfly friend who was just reminding me that I am going to make it through the change (we hung out for a while).

The Voices of Nature program led by Jorge and Joseph especially struck a chord with me. Jorge, having experienced the Paraguayan education system first-hand recognized that few students had the opportunity, or the privilege, to learn about the natural environment around them. This is something that has come up a few times for me through the duration of this program. Essentially, education, and the ability to participate in conservation, is a privilege. It doesn’t have to be, but it takes determined actions to make changes to the way we view education if we want to see a shift. 

Having direct experience with nature and connection to a sense of place are big determinants of conservation behaviors (Darner, 2009). The Voices of Nature program is intent on making this kind of education accessible to everyone. They focus their activities around the tenets of inquiry, placing the learner at the forefront so that they have the opportunity to create their own meaning and knowledge through experience (Freire, 1970). I felt so fortunate to participate in their outreach. From the in-class activities to the Biodiversity fair, I feel confident they are facilitating a generation of future stewards.

Becca Smith demonstrating how to use the telometry equipment. Students (right to left) Taylor Baker, Chelsea Shepherd & Lindsey Gorman

Becca Smith demonstrating how to use the telometry equipment. Students (right to left) Taylor Baker, Chelsea Shepherd & Lindsey Gorman

It wasn’t just our work with students that was illuminating, but everything that PLT has built, and involved us in, made this experience all the more transformative. I was especially grateful for the chance to dabble in-field methods with the PLT team. I love fieldwork, but rarely get to participate in it myself. From scouring for insects and benthic invertebrates to trying our hand at telometry I was engaged at every turn. Experiential learning is often documented as one of the best methods for acquiring knowledge (Haywood, Parrish & Dolliver, 2016), and I feel like I learned so much!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

~ Margaret Mead

The above quote resonated with me throughout our journey. The team at PLT is such an impressive group, their collective resume makes me feel like I’ve done nothing with my life. Though after working alongside them, having in-depth conversations and capturing a glimpse of what they do there, I hope I’ve gleaned a little from their successes. I may not have published any papers, started any educational programs, or given a talk anyone would listen to, but I would like to think that after returning I am better poised to do any, and all of the above. Life is still changing for me at a rapid pace, but I am enthralled by the journey and excited to see what’s next.

Crushing it in the rain (right to left): Carissa McKinney, Lizzy Teachout & Maloree Lanier

Crushing it in the rain (right to left): Carissa McKinney, Lizzy Teachout & Maloree Lanier

REFERENCES

Darner, R. (2009). Self-determination theory as a guide to fostering environmental motivation. The Journal of Environmental Education, 40(2), 39-49.

Friere, P. (1970). Chapter 2. In Pedagogy of the oppressed  (pp. 52.67). New York City, NY: Continuum. 

Haywood, B. K., Parrish, J. K., & Dolliver, J. (2016). Place‐based and data‐rich citizen science as a precursor for conservation action. Conservation Biology, 30(3), 476-486.

Golden Teddy Finalist

Hey Everyone! I am been honored to have been selected as a finalist in ParentMap's 2017 Golden Teddy Awards! And I would be delighted to have your support in the final round of voting. As an incentive, just for voting, you'll be entered to win over $1,000 in prizes, including a family getaway to Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort and Semiahoo Resort, Golf and Spa. 

I can be found under Camps and Classes, Wild Nature Camp, The Nature Nanny! I am up against some big time contenders, like Wilderness Awareness School, and The Girl Scouts, so I really need your help.

Please visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8LWBQWK to cast your vote now through April 30!

Nature Nanny Returns to Seattle

Thank you to everyone who joined me last week at the Arboretum. It was so wonderful to come back to Seattle and be greeted by such friendly familiar faces who were excited to get back outside and see what is in store this Spring. We saw many different species of waterfowl, from the prehistoric looking American Coot to the familiar Mallard, and a discovered a plethora of microinvertebrates that live beneath the surface of Lake Washington. It was a great turn out and we learned so many new things! Sign up is open now for Summer Camp at the end of August. Don't miss out, sign up today!

Nature Nanny on the Peninsula

The Nature Nanny has made some big moves this year. From Seattle to New Zealand, to a new home in Sequim. And with all new changes it has been both a rewarding and challenging transition. It's exciting to be starting over, and I am looking forward to familiarizing myself with my new backyard, and getting new people into nature. The first adventure club is in the works for March and I am hoping to get a camp together for Spring Break. Tell your friends!

Nature Nanny in New Zealand

As my trip to New Zealand nears the end, I feel it's only apt to share some of the amazing experiences I have had. Getting to work with Wildlands Studies has been incredibly rewarding. We have traveled through both the North and South Island, met incredible people, and had the oppotunity to volunteer with great conservation organizations like Friends of Flora and Kids Restore the Kepler. New Zealand is a stunning country with a wealth of unique ecology, but a lot of it's clean green image is upheld by the wonderful volunteer organizations that make it their mission to maintain and restore the flora and fauna and I am feeling grateful and priviledged to have had this chance to make a small contribution. 

Totally Awesome Award Winner!

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I have received the Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Award  for Most Helpful Childcare Agency. I couldn't  have done it without the help and encouragement from such a wonderful community. Though I am taking a leave for 3 months, a journey to New Zealand beckons, stay tuned for more to come from The Nature Nanny in the New Year!

The Last Adventure Club... For a While

It breaks my heart to say this, but I will be taking a leave from Nature Nanny for a little while. The next adventure beckons and I am off to New Zealand to teach an ecology class for 3 months. And so I would like to squeeze in one last Adventure Club for the Fall on October 9 at 11 am. We will check out The UW Arboretum and see what Autumn has in store. We will walk the trails of the Winter Garden, visit the Giant Sequoias and check out the Oaks and their abundant acorns and foliage. The group will meet at the Graham Visitor's Center at 11 am. The program will run approximately 1.5 hours and is $10/child. We will be there rain or shine, so please come dressed accordingly. If you would like to attend please contact me or register ahead of time. Hope to see you there!

One last thing.. There is only one week left to vote for The Nature Nanny to win a Totally Awesome Award. If you have the time please vote for me. Thank you!

Carkeek Park: From Trail to Tide Pool

The next Adventure Club is coming up this Sunday, September 18 at Carkeek Park. The program runs rain or shine! We will explore some of the park's trails and seashore, play nature based games and visit a very special tree. It's a good idea to come prepared for getting close to the water, be it rain boots or secure sandals, because you will want to get close to the action. Come dressed for the weather and bring a snack if you like. We will meet at 11 am at the shelter next to the Salmon side and picnic tables. The program will run approximately 1 and a half hours and low tide is at noon and is $10/child. To secure your spot please register ahead of time as spaces are limited. Hope to see you there! 

Adventure Club at Carkeek Park

The next Adventure Club is coming up Saturday, August 13 at Carkeek Park. We will explore some of the park's trails and seashore, play nature based games and visit a very special tree. It's a good idea to come prepared for getting close to the water, be it rain boots or secure sandals, because you will want to get close to the action. We will meet at 10 am at the shelter next to the Salmon side and picnic tables. To secure your spot please register ahead of time as spaces are limited. Hope to see you there!