Posted by: csdailyblog | April 15, 2011

Careers in Wildlife Biology and Organic Farming

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On Wednesday Conserve School students and staff were treated to visits by three different experts. Morning science classes hosted Candy and Rolf Peterson, husband-and-wife researchers and authors who are well-known for their decades-long, ground-breaking study of wolves and moose on Isle Royale. This research project has been sponsored by Michigan Technological University, which interested students are visiting tomorrow (Saturday, April 16). Read an MTU article about the study, with photos, here. Want to take an unusual summer vacation? You can sign up to help with the study by joining a week-long research expedition here.

Candy, who has recently published a memoir of her many years working and raising a family on Isle Royale, interspersed stories of wolves and moose with insights about the value of finding a meaningful calling and pursuing it with persistence, even if it means bucking conventional expectations. The casual give-and-take between Candy and Rolf as they passed around wolf skulls and told students about their life together in the wilderness made for a charming, personalized presentation. Ask your student to tell you about the dwindling wolf population and the poignant story of one of the last alpha females.

After lunch, during our regular Wednesday afternoon Careers and College/Stewardship in Action long block, organic farmer Loretta Jaus spoke to students about the benefits of organic agricultural practices and her family’s experiences running an organic dairy farm. The Jaus farm belongs to the Organic Valley cooperative, one of Conserve School’s food suppliers. You can read about the Jaus family farm and see it featured in a video on this Conservation Minnesota webpage.

After sharing photographs and stories, Loretta answered questions from students. She then demonstrated her collaborative spirit by joining our hands-on Stewardship in Action activities, pitching in as students constructed hoop houses for our garden. (We are excited that the Conserve School community garden soil is no longer frozen solid!) Student Autumn, who herself lives on an organic dairy farm, escorted Loretta to the Technology Complex, where the hoop house construction was going on. Other activities students took part in after Loretta’s talk included baking cinnamon bread in the school kitchen and preparing for the upcoming SAT test.

One of our Schoolwide Learning Goals is to make to sure that our students “understand educational and professional opportunities related to the environment and how to pursue them.” Wednesday afternoon I overheard some evidence that suggests we are achieving that goal. As we walked out of the auditorium after Loretta’s talk, a student commented, “The problem is — I want to do all these careers we’re learning about!”

Mary Anna


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