Friday, August 2, 2013

In Rememberence of BioWeekending.

So, let's talk about college. I'm not going to lie - I kind of miss it. But I miss it for the nerdiest reasons imaginable; I miss going to class. I miss the procrastination of putting off an essay or project (although I guess I can simulate the experience by putting off posting on blogs...). I miss doing kickass stuff in class and thinking "Damn, I have the best major ever." And while I still have yet to turn those things I learned into a viable career, at least for now I have some good memories and some solid wisdom to lean on.

How is this relevant to wetlands? Simple. My last semester in college, I took a course called Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife. I camped in a biological station near Gainesville and went shinin' for gators, had an awkward encounter with a Cottonmouth in the Everglades, and adopted a Crawdad in the Hillsborough River. Oh, and then there was the tour of the Tampa Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant.

WWW was a once a week field course in which my classmates and I learned how watersheds and wetlands work, how to delineate a wetland (according to the regulations set by the Army Corps of Engingeers!), how to sample with nets in wetlands, how to sit through two hours of lecture while fire ants are crawling up your pants, and how to catch baby alligators in the middle of the night. Oh, and how to draw up a wetland restoration plan for a park that would, hypothetically, enrich the campus as well as the local ecosystem without pissing off the stoners who liked to hang out in said park.

I think it was my science buddy Danielle who came up with the term bioweekending - an apt description for the two fieldtrips taken during that semester that required overnight stay.

I don't think I was a wetland fanatic before then. I mean, I loved them simply because they were a part of nature - the same way I might appreciate things just for the inherent fact that they exist and are a part of nature. When I first heard about the course, I couldn't imagine anything greater than the opportunity to play outside for class credit. And really, that's a lot of what I did. It's important in life, I think, to do the things you love - because then work doesn't feel like work. Yes, my friends and I spent countless weekends studying, going over plant names and whether they were obligate or facultative and how much coverage a wetland had to be in what type of vegetation in order to truly be considered a wetland - but it was, in hindsight, fun. Most importantly, I gained a new appreciation for wetlands and the issues surrounding water consumption and sustainability.

(Word to the wise: never, ever use a disposable water bottle around me. You have been warned.)

Remember in my last post how I urged you to go explore a swamp, or bog, or fen? There's really no other way to understand how beautiful these places are than to spend a few solid hours mucking around in them. Eventually, you just give up on socks altogether.

The neatest thing was learning how even though we've kind of been, collectively, assholes to wetlands, they've still been solid and have totally had our backs this entire time. We're even learning now that wetlands help solve some of our pollution issues - pollutant tolerable plants are great around impermeable surfaces like large roofs and parking lots because they can absorb those harmful elements or even use them, preventing them from harming water sources further down the line.

How we, as a society, as individuals, as citizens, as scientists perceive and respect and adore our environment is by experiencing it, asking questions about it, and discovering it for ourselves. At least, that's how it was for me, and I'm all the better for it.

Speaking of Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife - stay tuned for a post on the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

1 comment :

  1. That baby alligator does not look happy. Also, could you elaborate more on your encounter with the cottonmouth?