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Feathers, Dead Baby Birds, and Eggshells: A Most Authentic Investigation

It is not often that an outdoor science educator has unlimited unstructured time at a nature preserve with a small group of only six 8-12 year olds who are stoked on exploring, asking tons of questions, and creating their own possible explanations. I was blessed with this experience and it has left a visceral impression with me that will last a long time.
On the second day of our Adventure Scientists day camp we began the day heading out to a new area of the nature preserve we hadn’t yet explored. The students practiced their habits of a scientist recalling the skills we had learned the previous day. Utilizing their hand lenses and new language of “I notice…”, “I wonder…”, “it reminds me of…” they set out exploring the grassy peninsula stretching into the lake and the thick willows. There was not a time limit set, only some geographic boundaries. They began to find delicious smelling orchids, interesting textures of plants, and a few crime scenes (dead animals). That which caught the…

Watersheds Hold Connections: My Water Story

Flying across my headwaters state of Colorado on the spring equinox my forehead is glued to the small oval window of the regional jet. We climb steeply up out of the high mountain valley, turn north and follow the Colorado River upstream toward its source on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. I always request a window seat when I fly as I get to pretend to be a cartographer as I study the diverse landscape of colors, textures, shapes, and patterns that create places. Flying over known watersheds I place myself down in those places that have been part of my life forming me to who I am today carving and creating my story. Water continues to shape and mold the landscape and our being.

Getting to know a watershed is like getting to know a friend. Watersheds are places complete with stories, personality, place names, unique patterns and topography, social norms, distinctive plants and animals, political structures, and most of all distinguishing rivers and tributaries. Wat…

Reframing, Rethinking, and Re-inspiring Professional Training

How well do your professional development trainings leverage the collective wisdom and experience of the participants, foster a culture of excellence, encourage creativity, and nurture communities of practice?

Reframing how we conduct river and water management trainings can reinspire trainers, engage emerging professionals, and motivate long-time career professionals all while having some fun along the way. Although it may not explicitly be in one’s job description, many times experienced professionals are asked to become trainers. As trainers they are expected to be good facilitators, educators, and interpreters even though that may not be their primary expertise. Trainers who leverage the wisdom of formal educators, professional interpreters, and practiced facilitators can create learning experiences for their staff and colleagues that are highly effective and relevant, while also creating space for innovative leadership within their organizations and agencies.

In order to reconsid…