The Houston Metro area and large areas of southeast Texas have been devastated by record flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. There was tragic loss of life, and astronomically expensive damage to property and infrastructure. There will be a lot of discussion about how more frequent severe storms are a part of global climate change, and we can also focus on the science of weather forecasting, which continues to advance with new computational models and satellite data being utilized. But a very important point for us to reflect upon is how we could have done a better job of planning how we built our cities and infrastructure to protect against this loss of life and costly damage to property.
On April 12th the CGA co-hosted a BioBlitz on the Sacramento Capitol grounds with 240 elementary school children from Bowling Green Elementary School. At this event, educators, naturalists, and students came together to learn about, and celebrate biodiversity in one of California’s most recognizable urban parks. The CGA collaborated with the Education and the Environment Initiative of CalRecyle to organize this hugely successful day. We all had a wonderful time, and students came to appreciate the importance of geographic, environmental, and outdoor education.
A BioBlitz is an intensive study of biodiversity carried out in a specific area over the course of a day. At our event, students from 3rd through 6th grade at Bowling Green Elementary observed and documented as many plants, birds, insects, mammals, fungi, and other organisms as possible. This gave them a great opportunity to become citizen scientists in their own backyard. They learned how scientists collect observational data, explored the diversity of life that exists even in an urban environment, and came to appreciate how humans influence biodiversity. Experienced naturalists were also on hand to help students identify local plants and animals. Additionally, the event hosted information booths on biodiversity, agriculture, recycling.
The Capitol Park BioBlitz is one of over 150 BioBlitz events being held around the country this year as part of a National Geographic Initiative marking the National Park Service Centennial. The California Geographic Alliance has joined with a wide range of partners in the California Outdoor Engagement Coalition to support over 25 BioBlitzes in California parks and schoolyards.
“Outdoor learning is an incredible opportunity available to any student,” said Tom Herman, Director of the California Geographic Alliance. “Geography education is about connecting students to the world and helping them understand their place in it, and engage in a meaningful way. Examining what is happening right outside your home or school is a great place to start, and biodiversity is an important issue.”
It is that time of year again! Hundreds of school level bees occurred throughout the state from November to January, with a winner being crowned at each school. Now the top 105 school winners have been selected by the National Geographic Society and invited to take their talents to Fresno to see if they can emerge on top of a very intense competition.
The competition will begin at 8 am on Friday, April 1 at the Satellite Student Union on the Fresno State campus. Once the preliminary rounds have been completed, the general public is welcome to come and watch the final and championship rounds, which will begin around 11 am.
State Bee Coordinator Sean Boyd, of the Fresno State Geography Department, was recently interviewed on the Central Valley Today television news program, and you can view that segment here:
And a group of Mass Communication/Journalism students at Fresno State created a theatrical trailer for the Bee, which you can also view:
Good luck to all 105 competitors and congratulations to the thousands of students who participated in bees held at their school sites.