When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future. -Dian Fossey
What am I doing in 2018 to preserve the future for wildlife?
As always, I'm continuing my volunteer work! I still volunteer for the local wildlife rehabilitation facility and the forest preserve district (doing two different regular activities there). I'm also attending more educational events. While I know that doesn't directly contribute, it makes me a more educated and informed person so I can make better decisions for myself and my family and be better able to share that information with others.
What can you do to preserve the future for wildlife?
Volunteer for a local rehabilitation center, forest preserve district, or other conservation group in your area. Educate yourself and others about wildlife and the threats they're facing. Donate money or supplies to organizations promoting wildlife conservation and education. Keep your yard wildlife friendly by removing invasive species, planting native plants (which provide food and shelter), and keeping a fresh source of clean water available for wildlife.
Engage in citizen science in your own area to aid natural resource managers. Contact your local forest preserve district or other organization responsible for natural resource management in your county for resources on how to begin in citizen science. If resources are unavailable in your region, download the iNaturalist app and take matters into your own hands by recording and identifying the species in your own backyard!
What have I done in previous years?
I completed 177.5 volunteer hours! That's almost 4.5 weeks of full time work, and all while completing a Master's degree! I completed training and volunteered as a citizen scientist with the local forest preserve district during the summer to collect data on frog vocalizations. This is an important method for monitoring frog populations within the area.
I improved my yard for wildlife! I decided to set up a native garden where my babies are buried so they'll always have something beautiful around them. I wasn't able to begin the plantings, but the plans are in place and ready to go and I added a feeder for hummingbirds, a beautiful bird bath, a hideaway for herps, and a ground-level bath for frogs and other bitty critters to enjoy.
In January, I gave a presentation to my niece's Girl Scout troop on proper pet care and the concerns about domestic animals on native wild animal populations, accompanied by my chicken and lizard. I provided a second similar talk in July with my lizard, Paprika. In April, I participated in the Science March which took place on Earth Day in Rockford, IL to help raise awareness for the science behind climate change. In May, I organized a protest against a circus with a horrible record for mistreatment of elephants and public endangerment, raising awareness for actual conservation of endangered species and proper treatment of sentient animals.
I completed over 296 hours of volunteer service which is equal to working about 7.5 weeks at a full-time job! I participated in 7 educational events raising awareness about local issues concerning wildlife. I used my blog to promote conservation by writing 16 posts including educational information about the wildlife I photograph, reaching people in 38 countries! I used the proceeds from print sales to donate food and supplies to a wildlife rehabilitation center. I took steps around my yard towards certifying it as a backyard habitat by ensuring there were natural sources of food and shelter for wildlife. I published a scientific paper on the issues facing conservation of mammal migratory behavior in North America. I discovered the presence of an endangered species in my hometown where it wasn't previously known to inhabit.
In November I traveled the length of the Dakota Access Pipeline, beginning at the endpoint in Illinois and heading through Iowa, South Dakota, and ending at Standing Rock in North Dakota. I photographed the natural places and wildlife that would be impacted by the pipeline to help clarify how what's happening at Standing Rock is also an act on behalf of wildlife. I published a photo essay on this trip explaining the purpose of the project while sharing photographs and information about the sites visited.