Friday, July 21, 2006

Urban Wildlife Watch

Many people think that if you live in the city and you want to see wildlife, then you must visit the zoo or botanical gardens. But that is not at all true. Metropolitan areas are teeming with wildlife. There are trees, birds, grasses, flowers, weeds, butterflies, moths, lichens, squirrels, dragonflies, earthworms, ducks, and geese. Even predators like owls, hawks, coyotes and foxes live in the city and suburban areas.
The goal of my program will be to introduce youth, and adults alike, to the many different species of plants, animals, and other living things that are apart of the 'Urban Ecosystem' and help them understand more about our world the role we play in preserving it for future generations.

Members of the Urban Ecosystem
Keep a look out for some of these wild creatures.

Rodents and other Gnawing Mammals
Insects, Spiders, and other Arthropods
Ants, Bees, and Wasps
Predators and Raptors
Aquatic Animals
Snakes, Turtles, and other Reptiles
Frogs, Salamanders and other Amphibians
Trees, Flowers, Grasses, and Sedges

In the meantime, I invite you to take a closer look at the patches of nature that surround you and get to know some of your wild neighbors. To learn more about the wildlife in your area, check out some of these websites and begin your own Urban Science Adventures! Write to tell me about your adventures or to share your favorite wildlife websites with me.

Bird Watching and Identifying:
The Urban Bird Program -
Missouri Department of Conservation, Notes on Birds -
The Audubon Society -, the St. Louis Chapter -
The American Bird Conservancy -

Tree Identification and Crafts
Ohio Trees -
Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Urban Trees -
Leaf and Bark Rubbings -

Identifying Mammal Tracks and Marks
Missouri Department of Conservation, Notes on Mammal Tracks -

Bugs, Insects, Spiders, and other Invertebrates
North American Butterfly Association -

Fungi and Lichens
North American Mycological Association -

Reptiles and Amphibians (Herpetafauna)
Snakes, Urban Wildlife Control -
USGS News Articles about Amphibian Decline in Urban Areas -
Missouri Department of Conservation, Snakes of Missouri -
Missouri Department of Conservation, Guide to Amphibian and Reptil Conservation -
Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri's Frogs and Toads -

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bright Idea: Urban Science TV Program

Okay, now that I am seriously thinking about this [ad]venture, I've got to figure out all of the ins and outs. I surfed the web today just to know what's out there about starting a science show program. No webpages with checklists or recommendations. (If you have any, I'm all ears).
But while surfing, I did come across some interesting things. One news article I ran across is about an Arizonia PBS Station that recently kicked off a new Science program geared to tweenagers, DragonFly TV, The show even has 2 teenage girls as hosts. I've never watched it, but it sounds great. The show shows everyday kids doing science and loving it. A great idea!
Scientific Literacy, Science Education and Appreciation of Science are so improtant to me. And I feel that it is especially important to promote these three things to urban and African-American youth. So, that's my angle. I want to produce an urban-friendly science program that teens from this demographic can relate to.
So, my next step was to let others know my desire and interests. I shared my thoughts with my fellow lab mates and two of my advisors. One of which has produced a few non-commercial animal behavior films. He is actually an Animal Behavior Society Jack Ward Memorial Film Competition Award receipient, ( He was great enough to make many recommendations about program content and structure. Plus, it was really great to have my advisor, a committee member and my colleagues on board. They've even offered to participate and star in future episodes. But hold on, let me not get ahead of my self.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


A couple of years ago, a friend casually joked that I should have my own Science Television show. He thought I would make a great host of a science show that was specifically marketed to urban youth. I laughed about the idea and thought, how cute it would be to do such a project once I completed by dissertation in Animal Behavior.
From 2004-2006, I had the pleasure of serving as resource scientist at an urban (and I mean very urban) high school in the St. Louis, Missouri Metroplitan area. I helped design and implement lesson plans, hands-on laboratory and inquiry exercises. The work was challenging but I really enjoyed it. So much so that I helped create an After-school Biology Science Club. The kids enjoyed it. Until this program, rarely did they get the opportunity to interact with scientists or see real animals or even interact with living things in their science classrooms. This summer I am serving as a co-cordinator of a High School Summer Research Intership Program. I am working with two students (from the same high school mentioned previously). They are contributing to two independent projects related to my research. There are 7 other students working with other researchers at my University (University of Missouri-St. Louis). I really enjoy sharing science. And I think it's important to let all students know about the many career opportunities available to them. Soon, I began thinking that perhaps I could do a science program that exposes urban youth to the excitment, challenges, and career opportunities available in Life and Environmental Science. I can share these true life science experiences with a wider audience.
Now that I am nearing completion of my dissertation, I have become serious about this. I'll be sharing with you my efforts and attempts to create, produce, and market a science program for urban youth. I look forward to your comments and feedback.

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