Sunday, June 14, 2015

Julia Goes W!LD

Back for more? I hoped so. Y'all are in for a treat! I am spending this summer in Tupper Lake, NY in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks! I am lucky enough to be one of the many Summer Naturalist Interns at The Wild Center. 
(This is the part where I shamelessly advertise our new Wild Walk opening July 4th! You should all come visit. No excuses!) 
I've been here for a month already and I am loving every second!!

The last time I was in the Adirondacks was summer 2006 on a family camping trip. We stayed at Rollins Pond, climbed St. Regis, and yes. We visited the Wild Center! It had just opened in 2006 and has changed a lot since then. (All the more reason to visit!)

Li'l Julia
I have only climbed one mountain so far, Coney Mountain. I went with 3 of my 4 roommates and it took us a little over an hour round trip! I decided I will be taking summit selfies all summer even if it is goofy....

#basic #summitselfie
One of the many things I do at the Wild Center is lead Animal Encounter programs. I (or any naturalist) will take out one of our live animals for about a half hour and talk about how awesome that animal is!So far I have only worked with Lady Jay, our resident blue jay. I am doing my first snake program tomorrow with Gertrude the garter snake and I am hoping to get trained on small raptors soon so I can take out Luna, our eastern screech owl!

Lady Jay came to us because a family had found her when she was a baby. They tried to take care of her but only fed her bird seed so she didn't get enough protein and calcium as a baby. Her feathers were very wispy and not very blue. Now, we feed her a proper diet and she is super happy! She is fully flighted but cannot be released because she is imprinted on humans. Because of that, she is very social. We keep her in the hallway back of house so there are always staff walking by. Otherwise, she gets lonely!

Lady Jay
Stickley, the porcupine is another favorite of mine. She comes out a lot for school group programs. She is 8 years old and loves to eat dandelions!

Stickley being cute

The rest of these pictures are all various flora and fauna around the Wild Center. You will notice the lovely wild flowers and spiders. I am working on a top secret spider program to premiere July 4th on Wild Walk, so I have plenty of spider pictures! 

Tricolored bumble bee on Lupine

Goldenrod/ crab spider
 I think jumping spiders are adorable. If you don't believe me, google them. 

Jumping Spider

Shamrock spider
 That's all I have for now. I'll be sure to take more landscape pictures and not just the little stuff! Stay tuned for Wild Walk and Raquette River canoeing pictures!

Triumphant Return

…to blogging. Triumphant return to blogging. You thought I was going back to Tanzania didn't you? Fooled ya! ;) I realized it has been several months since a blog update so I thought I would share what I've been up to.  

My last month in Tanzania was magical. We spent all of our time on our directed research projects and spending as much time with each other as we could. We became a family and how are you supposed to say goodbye to family? But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

My directed research project was "Calibration of disc pasture meter and estimation of grass biomass in the northwestern grasslands of the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania." Yea. Say that three times fast. What all that means is I got to spend over a week in my favorite place in Tanzania collecting bags of grass with my best friend. It was actually pretty sweet. 

We listened to a lot of music (because let's face it. Clipping grass can get boring even in the most beautiful place in the world.) It's a pretty surreal moment when you are jamming to some T Swift and a wildebeest trots by. Talk about culture shock. 

Saying goodbye was impossible. I was in the first group to leave our home at Moyo Hill and it was impossible. Every one I was with truly become my family and even months later, I don't understand how I am surviving with out seeing their faces every day. 

Coming back to school was hard. Harder than expected. There were so many people! The dining hall was a scary place full of strange faces. Not to mention I miss my rice and stew and cabbage and fresh fruit. 
By now I can safely say I've gotten used to the way college works again but things aren't back to the way they were. They never will go back. Too much has happened for me to go back to my old way of thinking or my old way of doing things. I laugh at the conversations around me because my priorities are different. The little things I used to think were important, don't even make it on my radar anymore. I don't wear makeup or nail polish, I wear clean clothes but couldn't care less what they look like, and honestly I don't freak out if I don't shave my legs for over a week. TMI, I know but seriously people. There are better things we can be doing than obsessing over our looks and changing them so drastically that when you take it all away, you don't even recognize yourself any more. 

Well that was quite the tangent. The point is I am happy to be back and I am back with a greater appreciation for life. I will never forget what I learned in Tanzania, from my teachers and friends. Thank you to everyone who supported me while I was away. I love you all. Stay tuned for my latest adventure, the Adirondacks!