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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.

To Save the Serengeti Introduction

November 29, 2010 1 comment

In June of 2010, news that Tanzania (TZ) was planning the construction of a 50 km (30 mile) road through the Serengeti National Park (Senapa) was a contradiction to their recognition as a top international conservation authority by many organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund, IUCN, and UNESCO. As I’ve been following this story’s development I’ve been learning of the positive and negative aspects of this road’s construction plus weighing each side. So I’ve decided to dissect the issues being addressed into five parts:

I. Benefits of the Senapa road

II. Costs of the Senapa road

III. Senapa alternatives

IV. Questions/Concerns

V. Why do I care?

By taking more than a courtesy look at the Senapa construction, I hope to present a case which reveals how the read would be harmful to the Serengeti ecosystem and citizen livelihoods in a reasonable manner without claiming gloom and doom; only potentially irreversible damage. =)

It helps to know that the word Serengeti is devolved from the Maasai word Siringet which means a vast land that runs forever or (my preferred description) “endless plains where the land meets the sky(UNC)” It is one of the largest national parks in Tanzania and the oldest (Official TZ Parks). Furthermore, TZ is home to the big 5: the lion, elephant, rhino, water buffalo and leopard. Every year hundreds of thousands of wildebeest accomapanied by eland, zebra, Thomson’s gazelle, and a host of predators engage in the greatest terrestrial migration able to be witnessed. The Senapa was recognized as a world heritage site as well by UNESCO for its unique cultural values.

Surrounding the Senapa are several communities which is the reason the proposed road has surfaced to connect these estranged communities to larger ones via the 2004 promise campaign promise by President Jakaya Kikwete and construction is designed to begin in 2010. With these facts in mind stay tuned for the benefits of the Serengeti National Park road construction.

 

->Benefits of the Senapa Road

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).

Alaska Universities and Colleges with Wildlife Programs

October 18, 2010 2 comments

Hey there. I’ve just completed all of the Alaska Universities and Colleges which have environmentally based programs. There aren’t many schools but the programs undoubtedly are among the best in the nation especially for marine based studies. It is that time of year again where students should be searching for and applying to colleges. So if you’re interested in careers in the outdoors keep following along with this blog as I post each state up. Hopefully I can get to more states quickly however the process is time consuming. This is especially so because I want to do my best to make sure that I’ve included every updated major and contact information.

I’ve also created the abbreviation list for the degree programs. I’ll be sure to update it as I meander through the states and record their degree information.  So if you’re interested in forestry, natural resources, wildlife, fisheries or any of the other related sciences don’t hesitate to check out the states here,  and for Alabama. I actually have Arizona and Arkansas as well but it was completed back in April or so. I plan to update it but if you don’t want to wait till then check it out here as well.

So if you’re a high school student and you’re wondering “What should I major in?” or “What are some outdoor majors?” take a peek. You’ll learn something.

Trail of Zest

October 7, 2010 1 comment

**Originally penned on October 6, 2010 while walking the Augusta Canal Heritage Trail

It does not seem that I’ve upset the Cardinals too much by sitting at this picnic table. Moments before I waltzed over they were fluttering about. Now I just hear them calling at intervals above me. I’ve paused a moment to write because I find that my best thinking is not conducted in the bathroom/john/loo but outside on a trail, walking. Granted that I’m not walking now serves to contradict my earlier statement. However, my valid excuse is that my hand writing is horrible enough when I’m sitting; I’d be a fool to attempt the task while standing!

Today I’ve come to walk the trail paralleling the Augusta Canal. With the completion of my outdoor based job last Thursday, I find that I am experiencing an outdoor deficiency. Also to mention, the white walls of my apartment make me feel that I am in an asylum or prison.

So I sit here in the freedom of the outdoors pen in hand with a myriad of sounds surrounding me [from] water flowing over rocks, geese bantering, crickets chirping, leaves falling and someone striking rock against rock in an effort to make [one of the] piece[s] smaller.

I cannot criticize him for what he’s doing. I’m still shocked to see him out here: young and of Latin descent. Both of which are minorities.

I thought about that (minorities and the outdoors) even before this [very] moment today which undoubtedly adds to my continued shock. I wonder how many minorities are in Natural Resources. How many old or young, male or female, Latin, Asian, or Black [all] born here in America (another topic, another day).

I know the number is small indeed but often I feel like the only minority. I don’t know where else to go to connect with a group of diverse professionals (established or entry-level) without spending money for memberships or finding that a site is hardly used or updated even. on some levels it’s disheartening [but] on others it’s encouraging.

Encouraging like the email I received for a job interview in Louisiana. Encouraging like the career dreams that I hope can contribute, if even a little, to the enhancement of the life of people and wildlife. Simply encouraging.

So I’m thankful today that I was able to come to this trail; thankful for the thoughts transcribed and [those] still embedded in my mind. It is truly wonderful.

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.