anthropology · behavior · culture · environment · Nature

New Research Reveals the Nature of America’s Youth | The Nature Conservancy

Interesting study to keep you motivated while I’m off in the woods:

Kids are spending less and less time outdoors. Why? We’re becoming more and more wired in and dependent on technology:

There is a growing disparity between the time kids spend indoors wired to technology and the time they spend outside enjoying nature. The vast majority of today’s kids use a computer, watch TV, or play video games on a daily basis, but only about 10 percent say they are spending time outdoors every day, according to a new nationwide poll from The Nature Conservancy.Why? Lack of access to natural areas and discomfort with the outdoors are two primary factors identified by the Conservancy’s poll.The poll was conducted from July 28 through August 4, and asked 602 kids between the ages of 13 and 18 about their attitudes toward nature, outdoor activity and environmental issues.

more via New Research Reveals the Nature of America’s Youth | The Nature Conservancy.

One easy solution is to limit electronic time for youngsters, and ourselves for that matter.

And yes I recognize the irony of sharing this information via an electronic-based blog.

community · education · environment · Nature · school

School cuts out food waste with help from a pig | The Bulletin

A World War II poster encouraging kitchen wast...
A poster from WWII showing this is not an original idea for urban dwellers. Image via Wikipedia

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend and didn’t make a pig of themselves (sorry, I couldn’t resist the bad joke). But speaking of food and pigs, this story popped up in my alerts today and it was just too good not to share.

Theodore is a potbellied pig at Sage Community School, a Klamath County School District charter school near Chiloquin.

He was born on the first day of school and moved in about two months ago, said school director Sandra Girdner.

Now he spends his days meandering around the school’s garden and being doted upon by students and teachers. But his real purpose — and favorite part of his day, kids said — is eating two buckets of lunch scraps each day, effectively eliminating the school’s food waste.

Abbey Peterson, 13, pitched the idea. Her family gives food scraps to their potbellied pigs, and she thought it would be a good way to take care of the lunch waste from the school’s 77 students, aged kindergarten to eighth grade.

She and Sam Ekstrom, 13, recruited donated materials from Grange Co-Op; Peterson’s dad built the pen; the Henley High School shop class built a shelter; and the charter school’s 4-H club painted it white with green trim.

Ekstrom and Edgar Ortega, 12, took the waste-reducing initiative a step further by building a compost pile next to Theodore’s pen.

more via School cuts out food waste, with help of hungry pig | Local/State | The Bulletin.

Americans throw away soooo much food, and while composting is definitely a great option, that might not always work, plus there are other options, like livestock who have lived off of our table scraps for 100’s (some probably closer to of 10,000) of years. Schools have shied away from bringing in live animals (I’m still peeved at the school that wouldn’t let a couple of its students ride horses to school instead of drive!), so I’m thrilled to see one school take advantage of its resources by allowing the pig to help cut down food waste, AND teach kids about food, animals, farming, and all other kids of great lessons they wouldn’t get out of a science textbook!

behavior · community · education · environment · school

Mountain View to offer Ferndale Fries as pilot farm-to-school program – Local News –

Where I live is incredibly fertile farmland, with lots of kids having to get up to milk cows, feed chickens, and so on before they catch the bus to school. It’s nice to see that connection to the land follow them into the classroom, and teach their classmates where their food comes from:

Mountain View to offer Ferndale Fries as pilot farm-to-school program – Local News –

Students at Ferndale’s Mountain View Elementary School will soon be treated to freshly baked potatoes from northwest Washington as part of their school lunch.

On Jan. 27, the french fries and tater tots at the school are being exchanged for locally grown potato wedges, as part of a pilot farm-to-school project.

“This is something that’s good for the students and it’s good for the local farmers,” said Alex Singer, Ferndale School District’s Food Program director. “We have students who may not have ever had french fries that weren’t frozen before.”

education · environment

Defending sloths, frogs, and other animals

First, happy Veteran’s Day. Thanks to all the veterans for defending us.

Speaking of defending, I’d like to introduce the Amphibian Avenger:

Not only did she fall in love with amphibians, she fell in love with sloths. And apparently the world did too!

The world’s gone bonkers for sloths. It seems my little video featuring the sleepy residents of the world’s only sloth orphanage is the equivalent of grade A cute crack for millions of LOL squee loving junkies. It’s been watched by nearly 2 million people around the world from Greece (one of the first countries where the clip went viral – but then they needed a laugh that week what with the small matter of total economic meltdown) to Guam (66 Guamians have now watched which is presumably the entire population).

The sloths are now more famous than Jesus having been featured in Entertainment Weekly, The Huffington PostThe Daily Beastthe Approval Matrix in the New York magazine and on CNN all in the space of a week. Everyone is jumping on the sloth bandwagon – I hear that Madonna is adopting one, Jordan is attempting to marry one and Obama is considering using the sloths to help negotiate a peace agreement with North Korea.

Read more about it.

anthropology · education · learning · Nature

Come See My Gorilla Talk at Woodland Park Zoo on November 18th!

That’s right, I will be presenting a brown bag at Woodland Park Zoo on Thursday, November 18th, regarding my research with visitors to the WPZ’s gorilla exhibit. That’s next week, eep!

I have been volunteering with WPZ since June of 2009. During the summers of 2009 and 2010, I studied how visitors interacted with the exhibit, the gorillas, and what lessons visitors took away with them. I also interviewed visitors about their emotional responses to the gorillas.

I was amazed by how strongly people identified with gorillas, pointing out similarities between their hands, their facial expressions, and what they ate (even though Gorillas are vegetarians). They wanted to know how old the gorillas were, who was the mom and dad, if they got along, did they get bored, and all sorts of comments that indicated a high level of empathy. Interestingly, if people had read the signs they would have answered a lot of their own questions…

I will discuss what visitors responded to, what they learned, and what visitors missed.

 WPZ Flyer Gorilla talk