I really could not have imagined that it would take me nearly a year and a half to get back to blogging. When I finished the post back on the last day of 2014, I expected to take a few weeks off and sort out the result of my big year.
It was a great year and, in addition to learning more about birding in New Jersey than I ever thought possible, I also learned a bit more about myself and the direction in which I wanted to take my life.
What, you ask, did I learn?
To perhaps repeat myself a bit, I learned that (from a birding point of view) I am neither a chaser or a builder of birding lists. Before the slings and arrows start – I am not saying there’s anything wrong with either activity. Some folks (including my non-birding wife) enjoy the thrill of the chase and can’t really get excited about simply taking a walk in a park and looking at the “same ole birds”. Some folks enjoy keeping long lists of the birds they’ve seen, where they saw them, the first and last dates of each year’s observations…and so on and so forth.
But learning what I enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) about birding wasn’t the only lesson of my New Jersey Big Year (the blog is still up, by the way, if you want to give it a read). I discovered that I am truly passionate about nature and climate, and protecting both so that my children, grandchildren, and their children will have a planet worth living in.
Energized by these new self-discoveries, I been busy since my last serious period of blog postings. I completed training to become a Volunteer Master Naturalist through Stockton College (now Stockton University) and spent several hours last year volunteering for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) at Edwin Forysthe National Wildlife Refuge. I also continued volunteering for New Jersey Audubon’s Citizen Science program, completing breeding surveys of grassland and pinelands birds.
Perhaps the biggest step, through, has been my enrollment in American Public University’s Master’s Degree in Environmental Policy and Management. Since June of last year, I have completed five courses toward my degree, expanding my understanding of principles such as environmental economics, adaptive management, toxicology, research techniques, and environmental law. As you might guess, my graduate studies have taken up an enormous amount of time and left very little for other things – like blogging.
I have decided to take a few weeks off from class work to refresh and re-energize – and I am liking it. It feels a bit odd not to have a paper due, or a quiz to take, or a forum posting to write. But odd is good right now and the last couple of weeks have convinced me I was ready for a break.
So what am I doing in my free time? Attending my grandkids’ sporting events. Catching up on some reading.
And generally working through a few ideas for the next phase of my graduate work. I have nearly finished all of the “required” courses and am now moving into to “concentration” portion of my program. I have a bit more flexibility on which courses to take, which means it is truly decision time for choosing the direction of the remainder of my program.
I am also participating in a Massive Open Online Course or MOOC which is focused on the reasons some people use to justify their denial of science, especially climate science. Whether you call it global warming or climate change, our planet is experiencing human-caused (anthropogenic) warming and serious steps are necessary to address it. This course focuses on several areas including (taken from the web site):
- How to recognize the social and psychological drivers of climate science denial
- How to better understand climate change: the evidence that it is happening, that humans are causing it and the potential impacts
- How to identify the techniques and fallacies that climate myths employ to distort climate science
- How to effectively debunk climate misinformation
I am enjoying the class thus far and learning quite a bit, without the pressure of tests, papers, or grades.
That is what I have been up to over the past several months. My plan is to get more involved in blogging again and time will tell if I am able to keep it going (this time). I hope so.
I also hope that you’ll take a few minutes to drop me a note – what have you been up recently? Any big or small changes in your life? I’d love to hear all about it!
Until next time….