Today I'm taking some of my students to the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival in Milnesand, New Mexico, where, hopefully, the rain we've/they've been having will let up enough for us to watch the chickens do their courtship thing.
The festival, co-hosted every year by The Nature Conservancy and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, is always a blast, chicken appearances or no, with good food, good company, and informative talks and workshops. As a bonus, my students also do a service project each year to help restore habitat and protect the struggling population of the LPC. I say it is a bonus, because aside from actually getting to see the chicken dance, I think everyone feels it is the highlight of the weekend.
My students in my Introductory Fieldcraft class have been working on another service project this semester, helping to re-introduce native trees at the Lubbock Lake Landmark, where we often hold our classes. I've included here some photos from that project:
I've come to believe service is an important tool in the process of knowing a place. Until you work with a landscape--actually interact with it in a way that requires you to understand its needs--you are merely standing on the outside, looking in. Gardeners understand this.
Service helps us to interact with an environment and to become more than visitors to it. I'm pretty sure my students would agree.
The first year that I took a group to the festival, they were the ones that--unanimously--chose to sign up for the one service field trip on the docket, choosing it over all the others. Made me proud. Since then we've just always told the organizers to expect that we'll come with our work gloves, ready to pitch in.
While at the festival, I will be having a book-signing and hosting a workshop on field sketching. I'm looking forward to it and to visiting with some of the one hundred participants that will be there this weekend.
Next week things should be more or less back to normal here in the Bike Garden. I have lots of things saved for reports. Until then, y'all keep your noses clean!