Friday, April 16, 2010

Rain, chickens (not the kind you think), book signings, and giving back

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!


  1. Say hello to Apple for us! She is a real jewel!

  2. That looks great - wish I could join you.

    Review of your book due very soon - it's great! I'm using it!

  3. So is there a Greater Prairie Chicken Festival?

  4. Oh to be a college student again!

    Edward Abbey said, Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." Looks to me as though your students have both the sentiment and the action.

    I wonder if this is a bit like, "Put your money where your mouth is"?

    Lindy in AZ (I need some of that action in my own yard).

  5. Great looking bunch of young folk you have there.

  6. Nice that they get it. Much better way to spend your time than snarking at each other on Facebook or whatever most college kids get up to these days (creak creak). Hope the book signing was fun and you made a lot of new "fans."

    Love the colorful boot at the right of the last pic.

  7. Susan,
    What a great service project for your students!

    And, I'm thinking about the contrast between your planting conditions and ours, too, in Upstate SC.

    It's amazingly green and lush here now - but, it's definitely got to be rewarding for your students to plant native trees where they can flourish.

    Thinking about regional biology and planting suitability is the key to success, to be sure.

  8. Sounds like a smart plan. It took me years to know my land. We have the greater prairie chicken here. Is that right? I don't know, perhaps, it's the lesser. Anyway, the silly things run across the road all the time. :) ~~Dee


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.