Seventh Annual Latino Conservation Week kicks off this weekend, breaks down barriers to the outdoors and inspires tomorrow’s stewards

Seventh Annual Latino Conservation Week kicks off this weekend, breaks down barriers to the outdoors and inspires tomorrow’s stewards

Communities throughout the country will enjoy and connect with the great outdoors during the 7th annual Latino Conservation Week, which begins July 18 and runs through July 26. While this year will lean more toward virtual activities like online expeditions, roundtable discussions, Q&A sessions, scavenger hunts, film screenings and the like, nearly 100 events are being celebrated nationwide. “Latino communities are passionate about the outdoors and hold a strong belief that we have a moral obligation to be good stewards,”…

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‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ is really a thing

‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ is really a thing

Numerous studies have shown the mental and physical benefits of spending time in nature, but for some people, it took a pandemic and stay-at-home orders for that desire to spend more time outdoors to feel like a necessity. Experts hope that desire for nature will remain once people physically return to their busy schedules. “Ironically, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, as tragic as it is, has dramatically increased public awareness of the deep human need for nature connection, and is adding…

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Applied research at Spring Lake: Exploring the value of mindfulness in interpretive education

Applied research at Spring Lake: Exploring the value of mindfulness in interpretive education

Spending time in nature provides numerous physical, social, and psychological benefits. However, increasing urbanization has created a growing disconnect between people and the natural world. A personal connection is important because it can not only change how people experience and perceive nature but also foster the desire to care for those natural spaces. Dr. Rob Dussler, chief education officer for the Meadows Center, directs and designs nature experiences for the center’s education program, which engages more than 120,000 visitors each…

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Try a local trail or two — or even three

Try a local trail or two — or even three

Some friends and colleagues have mentioned their frustration in seeking away-from-home options while remaining distanced and quarantined in this “selah season.” They’ve mentioned their appreciation for my/our circumstances living as we do with wild and pasture life as our primary neighbors. My suggestions have included, “why not try a trail suited for your interest, ability and purposes!” We in New Braunfels and Comal County are blessed with local trail options as well as a broader Hill Country context which multiplies…

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What’s next for Black AF in STEM?

What’s next for Black AF in STEM?

Last week, Black researchers and avian enthusiasts flocked to social media to participate in the first ever Black Birders Week (May 31-June 5). “Growing up, there weren’t many outlets showing diversity, so I was only able to be inspired by white conservationists and naturalists,” said Tolga Aktas, a conservation biologist based in the UK. “The Black Birders Week movement allowed me to see that there are many Black wildlife heroes out there. It reassures me that everybody can make a…

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Should we care about conservation during a pandemic?

Should we care about conservation during a pandemic?

Now, more than ever, we need nature and the benefits it provides. COVID-19 has both revealed and exacerbated deep inequities in access to green space. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be at home, away from the frontlines, appreciate the mental and physical health boost provided by walks and nature views even more… At a time when we are worried not only for our health, but our jobs as well, it is worth noting that habitat restoration projects generate a…

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Water connects us all

Water connects us all

Water connects us all, from watersheds to oceans, to wetlands. In the summer of 2019, students from Taiwan, the Kumeyaay Nation, and southern California participated in an environmental summit hosted by the National Wildlife Federation and the Ministry of Education Taiwan at the University of California, San Diego. Students were selected because of their voices and action for environmental stewardship and protection of the water sources they live near. When peering at a map, the bodies of water surrounding Taiwan and…

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‘Black Birders Week’ promotes diversity and takes on racism in the outdoors

‘Black Birders Week’ promotes diversity and takes on racism in the outdoors

“We all have this shared experience where we have to worry about going into the field,” says Earyn McGee, a herpetology Ph.D. student at the University of Arizona and Black Birders Week co-organizer. Prejudice might drive police or private property owners to be suspicious of or antagonistic toward Black scientists doing field work in normal clothes, putting them in danger, she says. McGee conducts research near the U.S.-Mexico border and worries about encountering U.S. Border Patrol on her own while…

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#BlackBirdersWeek aims to raise awareness, grow community

#BlackBirdersWeek aims to raise awareness, grow community

Just four days after the encounter between a white dog walker and African American birdwatcher Christian Cooper, a group of approximately 30 Black scientists, birders, and outdoor explorers have created a new awareness campaign to encourage birding among more people of color. The project is called #BlackBirdersWeek, and it will take place from Sunday, May 31, through Friday, June 5. Anyone who is interested should follow the hashtag #BlackBirdersWeek on Twitter and Instagram… “This effort was borne out of a large…

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Our need for the outdoors: The role of nature during COVID-19

Our need for the outdoors: The role of nature during COVID-19

Research on the connection between human health and exposure to nature started to get a foothold in the early 1980s. The renowned biologist E. O. Wilson hypothesized that humans had an innate connection to nature. At the same time, Roger Ulrich, a professor of architecture at Texas A&M University, was looking at how surgery patients with a view of a natural scene out of their windows recovered compared to those with a brick wall outside. He found that patients with…

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