A Mid-semester Night’s Reflection

Me being a fool and trying not to drop everything I’m carrying while re-layering during a chilly, mountainous plant-survey.

“Lord what fools these mortals be”

Shakespeare: Midsummer Night’s Dream

Humans don’t have all the answers and we probably never will; everyone should act accordingly.

I absolutely cannot believe that we’re halfway through the semester already! It has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me, but what in my life isn’t! This post is a reflection on some of the more notable points thus far that haven’t been covered in previous blog posts.

Sense of Place hike/ exploring Shenandoah with friends: I have spent many summers in the George Washington National Forest (about an hour south of Front Royal) but it was enlightening to learn more about the history, geology, and ecology in a more formal way. With thought-provoking questions like,

  • What places are most meaningful to you? Why?
  • What aspects of those places sustain this meaning?
  • Are there places that lack a sense of place or meaning to you?

the lecture and accompanying hike sparked contemplation around the places where I feel happiest and full of wonder *almost all of them are in the woods surprise surprise.* Having time afterwards to drive around Shenandoah reaffirmed my love for the area.

A really interesting rock that has vesicles (the popped bubble-looking holes) as well as tiny seashells in it. An unusual combination.

Our discussion around the Washington Post Opinion article “We don’t need to save endangered species. Extinction is part of evolution.” Wow did this article get me fired up. I am a very emotion and moral-driven person and this piece just pushed all of the right buttons to get me. My biggest issue with this argument is the lack of responsibility it takes for human-cause extinction. It feels like a giant cop-out, failing to acknowledge the role humanity has played in the downfall of many species and with such an anthropocentric view. Selfishness is one character trait I will never truly understand, and although our class discussion made me see the positives in a viewpoint such as this one (a more moderate stance that could draw in those usually off-put by more committed and/or “extreme” conservationists) I can’t wrap my head around the fact that some could value their wants so far over the needs of another.

The role of Zoos in Conservation: This was a tricky topic as well. I had an hour long argument with a friend from home on zoos after class one day and came to the conclusion that in an ideal world, there wouldn’t be a need for zoos. But because of the effects of habitat destruction, human-wildlife conflict, poaching, and climate change; many species are no longer able to live their lives and have a self-sustaining population. This is where zoos come in. An no I don’t mean the sketchy, roadside thing with a bunch of inbred tigers in some dog kennels. I mean AZA accredited zoos that focus on animal welfare, conservation, and breeding programs. My views on this topic relate to the ones expressed on the article above: humans messed it up so we should be held responsible for trying to fix it.

Very frozen ground this week.

White tailed deer: this past week we learned about the white-tailed deer population explosion and some management issues that have arisen from it. We had guest speakers and assisted with deer trapping and tagging on campus as well as deer spotlighting to learn about population density. Watching my classmates struggle to control the kicking and keep the animal eyes covered was quite the experience and I was content with watching from the side. I did try one of the grain and molasses deer pellets we used to bait the traps because I was curious and they kinda just tasted like sweet grass. Not terrible but wouldn’t recommend 🙂

We also learned about deer’s relationship with invasive species. The plant survey we assisted with was looking at the growth of natives and invasives on plots that were open to deer browsing vs fenced off.

Other pictures from the week:

Worked with the middle-schoolers on a water-filtration activity on Monday! This is what one group made using cotton balls, coffee filters, gravel, sand, and activated carbon (used to filter fish poop out of tanks).
I also worked on illustrations for one of the kids books I’ve written! This is a rough sketch of Mops the Pug.

I’m excited to keep learning new things and having unique experiences the second half of the semester.

Reflect and stay humble,