Category Archives: Environmental Education

Tuesday To-Do: The Ozark Society – Pulaski Chapter Monthly Meeting

Join the Ozark Society – Pulaski Chapter tonight at 7 p.m. at Second Presbyterian Church (corner of I-430 and Cantrell Road) in west Little Rock. David Johnston, a registered professional geologist who specializes in geohazards and environmental geology, will discuss “Geology 101.” Johnston works for the Arkansas Geological Survey and will discuss the recent seismic activity in the Fayetteville Shale areas of the state, specifically the Faulkner County areas. For more information, visit www.ozarksociety.net.

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Weekend To-Do: Eagle Awareness Days at Bull Shoals-White River State Park

Photo Courtesy of Bull Shoals Lake/White River Chamber of Commerce

WHAT: Eagle Awareness Days

WHEN: Friday-Saturday, January 7-8

WHERE: Bull Shoals-White River State Park (153 Dam Overlook Lane) in Bull Shoals

Each year approximately 100 bald eagles visit the Bull Shoals area. Enjoy programs and activities centered around our national symbol. Activities include lake and river cruises, guided bird walks, guest speakers, live bird demonstrations, and live entertainment. Free except for lake and river cruises.

For a detailed schedule, contact the park at (870) 445-3629 or bullshoalswhiteriver@arkansas.com.

Book Review: The Sense of Wonder

I’d like to thank Rex Enoch and Shelley Green for introducing me to such a wonderful book.

This fall, Rex, Shelley, and I participated in a discussion course hosted by the Arkansas Earth Institute. Called A World of Health, the six-session course explored the connections between human health and the environment, and how we can sustain both. I found the course to be excellent and recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.

One of the articles that we read discussed the connection between nature deficiency and the way we treat (or mistreat) the environment. If we don’t go into the woods, therefore suffer from nature deficiency, how do we gain appreciation for the natural world? If our children grow up with nature deficiency, how would they take care of the Earth?

That’s when Rex and Shelley mentioned The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson. Carson, noted environmental writer, penned the essay shortly before her death in 1964. In it, she urges parents to take their children to wild places to introduce them to the astonishing variety of life that exists all around us – birds, winds, waves, stars, trees, lichens, mosses and more. “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder,” Carson writes, “he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”

Carson understands the anxiety felt by parents to teach their child about nature:

Parents often have a sense of inadequacy when confronted on the one hand with the eager, sensitive mind of a child and on the other with a world of complex, physical nature, inhabited by a life so various and unfamiliar that it seems hopeless to reduce it to order and knowledge. In a mood of self-defeat, they exclaim, “How can I possibly teach my child about nature – why, I don’t even know one bird from another!”

Carson says not to worry. It is more important for a parent seeking to guide a child to feel than to know. “It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts,” she writes.

Carson encourages parents to start early. “A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.” Before a child loses his or her sense of wonder, Carson urges parents to take them to wild places.

The Sense of Wonder is an amazing book, and it’s a must-read for everybody. Check it out by borrowing a copy at your local public library.

Sign Up for AR Earth Institute Discussion Courses!

Register for one or both of the Arkansas Earth Institute’s Discussion Courses and start to change your world today!

1) Voluntary Simplicity
Thursdays, February 10 – March 17, 2011 – 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Voluntary Simplicity is designed to help participants move toward a life simple in means and rich in satisfaction. The course investigates the meaning of voluntary simplicity by exploring the material and psychological distractions that prevent us from caring for the earth and by acknowledging the connection between our lifestyle choices and the condition of the earth. Participants will gain insight into the benefits of simple living through readings, discussions, case studies and personal action plans for living simply on Earth. The Simple Living Action Plan includes ways to implement changes regarding consumerism, time management and living deliberately with the right livelihood.

Location: Heifer Village, 1 World Village, Little Rock

Tuition fee: $40 per person (includes course and materials)

Registration closes February 3, 2011. Registration is limited to 16 participants for a more in-depth and personal growth experience. Request a reservation for Voluntary Simplicity by clicking here.

2) Discovering a Sense of Place
Tuesdays, March 8 – April 26, 2011 – 5:30-7:30 p.m.

This course focuses on knowing and protecting the place you live. In our fast-paced society, malls, restaurants, supermarkets, and the like pop-up without much relationship to the environment or the community around them. The readings from this course suggest how we consciously immerse ourselves where we live. Come explore through readings and discussions how to better understand your sense of place – and how connections to our “places” can have profound benefits for ourselves, our communities and the Earth.

Location: Heifer Village, 1 World Village, Little Rock

Tuition Fee: $40 per person (includes course and materials)

Registration closes March 1, 2011. Registration is limited to 16 participants for a more in-depth and personal growth experience. Request a reservation for Discovering a Sense of Place by clicking here.

For more information, contact Shelley Green, Executive Director, Arkansas Earth Institute, at shelley@arkansasearth.org or (501)213-5388.

Midway. Message from the Gyre

I’m about to ruin your holiday spirit. If you are easily offended, I highly recommend against watching this video, or at least watch it in privacy of your home.

I learned about this video while taking an Arkansas Earth Institute discussion course called A World of Health: Connecting People, Place and Planet. The six-session course explored the connections between human health and the environment, and how we can sustain both. I learned a lot from the course, both good and bad. Our love affair with plastic and its impact on the environment are astounding. This video illustrates one of the consequences of our love affair.

Chris Jordan photographed rotting carcasses of baby albatrosses filled with plastic. These birds nest on Midway Atoll and are being fed plastic by their parents, who find floating plastic in the middle of the ocean and mistake it for food. The photographs are a part of an ongoing arts and media project called Midway Journey, which has its own website.

As we head into the final weekend before Christmas, let’s be mindful of our consumption and its impact on the environment.

Book Review – Clean Water: An Introduction to Water Quality and Water Pollution Control

I’ve been thinking a lot about water lately. My work recently added water to the list of policy issues that I work on, so I’ve been reading up on it. One of the first books that I read, as a brand new water advocate, is a book called Clean Water: An Introduction to Water Quality and Water Pollution Control. Written by Kenneth Vigil, Clean Water is a great book for anyone concerned about this precious resource who wants to become better informed. In straightforward language, Vigil provides a comprehensive introduction to the many scientific, regulatory, cultural, and geographic issues associated with water quality and water pollution control. He also explains the broader approach of watershed management and suggests ways for citizens to apply what they have learned about clean water at home and in the community.

The book may be too basic for those with more advanced water knowledge, but if you are new to the water field, it’s an informative book. Check it out!

The Story of Bottled Water

Annie Leonard does it again, this time with bottled water!

I can’t begin to tell you how much I dislike bottled water. Sure, there are times when they are convenient or even necessary. But, other than in very rare occasions when I have no choice but to drink bottled water, I stay away from them.

Arkansas is blessed with clean drinking water. Central Arkansas is especially fortunate to have such clean and tasty drinking water. Why would I pay more money to drink water that may be less safe? Why would I pay to have more garbage at home?

I say we ditch bottled water and drink tap in our reusable water bottles. Now, can we toast to that?