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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April’s International Dark Sky Week urges homebound families to “look up together”

April’s International Dark Sky Week urges homebound families to “look up together”

Press Release: International Dark-Sky Association – For Immediate Release: April 9, 2020 During International Dark Sky Week, April 19-26, the International Dark-Sky Association invites you and your family to engage with dynamic authors, educators, artists, and scientists from around the world who are excited to share their passion for astronomy, our cultural connection to the stars, life in the dark, and how we can work together to protect the night. “Right now, families around the globe find themselves spending many…

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National parks — your Rx for good health

National parks — your Rx for good health

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, visitation to national parks is surging. As more parks close to protect visitors and staff, we can expect another influx when they reopen. In times of crisis and times of calm, national parks are America’s go-to places. Visitation to national parks in 2019 exceeded 300 million visitors for the fifth consecutive year. Numbers of visitors increased by 2.9 percent last year, making it the third highest to date, with nearly 328 million visitors. Read more from Susan Sherman, Executive…

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