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Course: Environmental Information Management Training Institute

May 13, 2011 Leave a comment

When you were little you learned very quickly why it was important that you not touch the stove at certain times. You may have learned by physically touching the stove also known as kinesthetic learning. Or you may have watched (and/or subsequently) heard when someone else touched the stove which means you used visual and auditory means of learning not to touch the stove. These different ways of learning apply just the same as a wildlife professional minus the heat unless you’re doing prescribed burns or fighting wildfires.

My strongest area for learning is kinesthetic learning. While I enjoy reading books leisurely or listening when the teachers are preaching, nothing works for me like getting out into the field to put what I’ve heard into practice to see how things connect. What better way for a wildlife career professional to gain experience that fits into their schedule than through courses often offered yearly that can help them stay up to date with current field practices or learn new ones?

One set of field courses being sponsored by the University of New Mexico and DataOne as the Environmental Information Management Training Institute in Albuquerque, NM. Being held May 23 through June 10, 2011 the courses are open to Master’s  and PhD students plus professionals who seek to enhance their data skills…and that is just saying it simply. More specifically the Institute seeks to teach its students “to effectively design, manage, analyze, visualize, and preserve data and information” by exposing potential students to “all aspects of the data life cycle: from managing data files and creating databases and web portals, through state-of-the-art analysis and visualization techniques, as well as managing, analyzing, and visualizing geospatial data.”

Composed of three courses (all must be taken) six credit hours will be earned and graduate tuition rates apply. The total for the program is $1,595.34 regardless if you are considered in state versus out-of-state. If you’re not a student at the University of Mexico, you are still welcome to apply to the program. Take note however to apply as a non-degree student before registering to the Institute, a $10  fee applies. As for housing (hopefully you’re being funded through an agency or are already a student) you will be on the search for a potential place to stay. This can be discouraging for many looking to take the course even if they already live in the state much less are coming from out-of-state. Hotels in the area run $50-75 per night but during the last week of the program on campus residence halls open up that you could stay in for $45/night. Studying from your car is not an option…unless of course your car is actually an RV.

The courses that you will be taking are as follows:

INFO 530  Environmental Information Management

INFO 532  Environmental Data Analysis and Visualization

INFO 533  Spatial Data Management in Environmental Sciences

Details for these courses will be found via the University’s website dedicated to the Institute. Each course is a week-long journey beginning at 8am and ending at 5pm Monday through Friday hosted in a computer classroom. Don’t worry; I’m sure there will be sometime in there to eat!

With the amount of data we obtain growing each day the means of organizing and being able to easily retrieve that data is important. The organizers of Databasin are aware of this and created a site centered around the collection and distribution of data for professionals in the natural resource fields (and interested parties) working with spatial data (hint: Ctrl-D).

If you’re an undergraduate you might be interested in taking the online course Info 320 Information Management for Professionals online. This (I feel) would be a great introduction and look into what you can expect if you should decide to attend the Institute.

You can  find this and other courses detailed on the Field Course Calendar that I’ve created. While at this moment the calendar only has this course check back often for new additions.

Note: There are some more facts about this Institute that I am waiting to obtain. I will update this post when I get them.

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Benefits of the Senapa Road

January 15, 2011 3 comments

Developed. Developing. Third World. First World.

Each pair of words are often used to describe countries which have a high economical status versus those that do not. It makes the pressure to “succeed” greater when the world revolves around money even into the point of pricing nature also known as natural capital.

Tanzania realizes that in order to be a country with an economical presence they need to be able to connect with all their citizens so that they may advance collectively. For this, Tanzania can be proud of the initiative they are taking to provide for their citizens. A particular measure that the leadership of Tanzania hopes to pursue is by creating a new road that transverses the Serengeti National Park (Senapa). Since there are already two roads crossing the park, you may wonder what makes this road significant.

I. Potential tourism.

Tanzania enjoys a healthy tourism industry based mostly around (not exclusively)  the natural spectacle of the wildebeest migration. The creation of a partially paved road opens the means for which tourists could visit remote areas of Tanzania rich in cultural history.

II. Access to hospitals, job opportunities, schools etc.

Though Tanzania is experiencing economic growth, the country still battles poverty. The provisions that the road seeks to provide include access to easier access to hospitals in larger cities or for hospitals to be built in the smaller Musoma. Current access to smaller communities is limited because of poor roads or the lack of roads altogether.

Having served as a temp worker for a few jobs, I understand how holding a job even for a fleeting moment can make a difference. Currently, construction is being planned to begin in 2012. For anyone who may be employed (and trained) from the two small towns, these jobs are essential to assisting the agricultural based communities whose success are as wary as the climate.

In terms of education, this road could open up educational opportunities for residents of Musoma who have secondary education but lack the opportunity to consider post-secondary schooling to now have that chance. As a lifelong learner (for my short time on earth) I believe that everyone should have the means of being educated and seeking further education if they wish.

III. Travelling monies.

With the construction of this new road between Arusha and Musoma, travel is expected to increase greatly. With minerals available in Lake Victoria for the creation of batteries, the increased job market for this area isn’t the only plus. Travelers buying gas, paying for taxis/buses and perhaps paying a toll to use the road all would contribute to the monetary value that can be reaped from this road. The benefit that Tanzania will receive from an industry based in batteries is a form of natural capital and is an ecosystem service.

IV. Access to resources.

Musoma’s current existence tethers on a thread. The viability of the town is contingent on access to resources for the community’s inhabitants beyond an agricultural foundation. President Kikwete noted that one of the benefits of the road is the chance for citizens to have access to electricity and eventually cell phone service. I do not feel I would err to say that this access would also bring in clean water supplies as well, and materials to build homes that can deliver these utilities.

From these four intertwined areas I have found to be the greatest benefits from the construction of the road. The potential for Tanzania’s economy is great but at what cost? In light of the road’s proposal the benefits of the road seem to be outweighed by its cons.

<-Introduction Costs of the Senapa Road->

Trails of Zest 10-28-2010

October 29, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s been a while since I’ve been outside and taken the time to think. Not that I haven’t been outside. It’s just that I’ve not participated in creative and constructive thinking as of late.

It feels more like fall now compared to earlier this month though I’m not an extreme fan of the cooler weather. [The] 70’s are my optimum temperature. I have a lot on my plate lately which seems strange considering that I don’t have a job. I am tasked with the need to find a job and figure out how to pay bills without one. So I freelance in my free time and complete surveys [though these don’t bring me close to the amount needed per month]. My greatest problem however is motivation. I’ve realized that being determined and motivated do not fit together nicely [as many would like to think]. I say this because I’m determined to do something with my time and I do accomplish some things but often I don’t feel motivated. [As if the weight of rejection from another potential job is beginning to take its toll on me mentally]. I feel [at times] that it’s all a waste of time….Understand that this realization comes to me as I sit on the earth of GA looking across to SC. I’m surprised that I feel this way and I do not believe I ever would have realized it sitting in my white walled prison trying to motivate myself.

That’s why it is important to have people around who can motivate you; people who understand your dream and goals and simply will not say “do something else; it’s all money”. I hate that truth for the lie that it is to me. It’s true because the result of the work [performed at the job] is money. However it is a lie because it places me in a job that I will never love [or respect]. I believe if money is the sole reason why you’re pursuing a job or career then you’re a damned fool. [I don’t have other obligations such as kids to be concerned with so the pressure of accepting a job outside of my career is not high].

I’ve known ever since I was in fourth grade that my career path salary was not high on the totem pole yet that never swayed me. I want to love what I do and do what I love….I’ve started rambling I see. A thousand apologies. My pen got carried away…

Before I forget self-motivation is possible though it can only take us so far. It is a necessary strength, however. Perhaps though I shouldn’t call it self-motivation because God motivates me [and reminds me] He’s the reason for my continued sanity [and continued drive to want to succeed]. As I cease writing this I question why I ever felt discouraged in the first place. I realize I just needed to be reminded of a few things. =)

Wildlife Word of the Day 10-26-2010

October 26, 2010 Leave a comment

That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology,

but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.

Aldo Leopold

Last time I defined ecosystem managementt which addresses management on a spatial scale and addresses the ecosystem from the individual forest to landscapes. The next word that has surfaced in this drive to learn is ecology.

First I would like to note that I believe with time (even in science) it is necessary for the definition to change only as our understanding of a subject grows. It is quite possible that a words definition won’t change at all but just in case, lol. Ecology is a word that has escaped evolution. After reading from several timeless sources, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two working definitions for ecology.

One definition is defined by Eugene Odum (1913-2002), a leading ecologist, as the study of the structure and function of nature. He goes on to explain that ecology  “primarily concerned with the latter four levels” referring to populations, communities, ecosystems and the biosphere. What’s great is that this definition does not exclude the individual organism though it does not seem entirely inclusive either. The second definition addresses the individual organism directly and defines ecology as “the study of the interrelationship among plants and animals and the interactions between living organisms and their physical environments.(Turk)” You may wonder why I singled out the individual organism. Well, from my own observations (though few they have been) organismal ecology is important because all species do not herd or live in families.  There are species in each family which deny the approach shared by the first definition.

I really enjoy this definition by Brainerd of “ecology is the study of how everything fits (assuming that it does)”. It is such a broad definition that I’m almost certain that it is no longer considered by many. The reason is that the definition covers how things fit but not why they fit or why they (ecosystems, communities, populations, organisms, biosphere) are structured the way they are (remember earlier when I mentioned that words evolve?) So though ecology is “particular concerned with groups of organisms (McNaughton) it cannot eliminate consideration for the individual organism.

 

Works Cited (Journal of Wildlife Management Citation guidelines)

Brainerd, J. 1971. Nature study for conservation. The MacMillian Company.

Leopold, A. 1966. A sand county almanac. Oxford University Press.

McNaughton,  S.J. and L. Wolf. 1973. General ecology. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Inc.

Odum, E. 1963. Ecology. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Inc.

Turk, J., J. Wittes, R. Wittes, and A. Turk. 1975. Ecosystems, energy, population. W.B. Saunders & Company.

Disclaimer: My thoughts on this article are solely my own as an entry-level professional. My purpose for posts like these are to learn. I expect that in some years some of my views in this blog (and any others) will be changed by an increased experience in the field. I think that it helps to see how I grow through time in my writings and knowledge (much like when you view drawings from when you’re a kid versus as an adult).

Rothschild Giraffe Now An Endangered Species. – Soysambu Conservancy

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

allAfrica.com: Tanzania: Serengeti Highway to Go Ahead – President

August 16, 2010 Leave a comment

This is a shame.  So much so that I am speechless.

allAfrica.com: Tanzania: Serengeti Highway to Go Ahead – President.

The RSPB: Campaign with us: The Serengeti highway must be stopped now

August 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Seriously, TZ? How do you think a road is going to increase revenue just by providing transport from one country to the next? East Africa benefits greatly from tourism and such a road would affect Kenya and, no doubt, Uganda similarly. Having spent time in Kenya recently for two months I’d heard of the human-wildlife conflicts due to roadkills along their major highway from Nairobi to Nakuru and at least one had occurred while I was present. The number of roadkills (from my observations) have been stemmed because of the fences marking Soysambu Conservancy where many wildlife species reside and attempt to cross into. Will this proposed road have a fence lining it for the many miles it will span the Serengeti? How will Tanzania, who seems to be heading this road project, address poaching? How do they plan to address the biological backlash that is bound to occur because of this road? Roads don’t just appear by waving your hand. It requires tools, large equipment, people and noise. So many months it will take for such a road to nigh completion but what of the environmental ramifications such as erosion, and litter? How will Tanzania alter current management efforts in the Serengeti to prevent environmental degradation or rather spearhead restoration efforts? Perhaps, restoration shouldn’t even be a world that is uttered because I wonder can anything that has an active road passing through it and will be heavily transited even possible to restore….Sorry, Tanzania but this is one piece of “nice tasting” candy that you shouldn’t be trying to chew.

The RSPB: Campaign with us: The Serengeti highway must be stopped now.