July 2021 – Tree Equity
An interesting article came across my inbox a few weeks ago. It was an interactive, visual narrative from the New York Times’ opinion section that demonstrated the difference between tree coverage in wealthier (and whiter) neighborhoods vs those that are less wealthy. The authors note that “neighborhoods with a majority of people in poverty have 25 percent less tree canopy on average than those with a minority of people in poverty...in the most extreme cases, wealthy areas have 65 percent ...Continue Reading
June 2021 – Fireflies
On a fine June evening, my pre-teen son and I ventured out at sunset to watch the sun go down over Lake Mendota. We found a grassy hill-top view from the iconic Observatory Hill on UW-Madison’s campus and awaited the golden hour. If you regularly track Wisconsin phenology, you might know what happened next. Slowly and quietly the field below us filled with a glittering array of duty-bound fireflies. My son, who moments before was too cool to be seen ...Continue Reading
May 2020 – Four Ways to Encourage the Next Generation of Environmentalists
Some of the Nature Net readership might know that I've spent the last couple months as a part time graduate student at the University of Wisconsin's School of Human Ecology. The program, Civil Society & Community Research, is designed to encourage scholars to look at communities as human-centered yet ecological. That is, our civil societies, just like ecological systems, are rich in diversity, interconnections, and interdependencies. Just as you pull on one strand of the web in an ecological system ...Continue Reading
March 2020 – World Water Day
It’s hard to ignore the swelling in-box and urgent news reports regarding Covid-19 and the current pandemic. Nor should we ignore them. We at Nature Net hope that you and your family are safe and healthy. We wish peace and well-being for our global community, too, as we navigate these unprecedented times.  I have found that my worries subside as I carry on with (virtual) meetings, plans for the future (the draft version on the 2020 Nature Passport is in ...Continue Reading
February 2020 – Citizen Science
While I and others in this wintry clime await the days of parka-free hikes and skies filled with bird-song, I enjoy attending the UW Arboretum's weekly Winter Enrichment lecture series. The lecture series was originally designed to connect Arboretum educators with UW research and ecological experts over the quiet days of winter. The program has since evolved to offer weekly education and fellowship to over 100 attendees from across the community. A recent lecture focused on the breadth of work ...Continue Reading
January 2020 – Urban Trees
When my kids were little, we had a paper map of all the trees growing around the Wisconsin capitol square. As I remember, it was produced by the Madison Children's Museum. I did a quick search online and couldn't find it - a paper version of anything these days is simply a relic. But hope was not lost! This past year, at an Environmental Education Conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Nicole Filizetti from the LEAF Program (read more ...Continue Reading
November/December 2019 Nature Net News – Hunting
Growing up in an urban area and without a robust hunting tradition among my family members, I didn't realize until later in life just how strong the hunting culture is throughout most of Wisconsin. My aunt and uncle, who were both school teachers in the arcadian town of Lake Mills (pop. 5,000) tell me that deer hunting season rendered the classrooms half empty as students and their families took to the fields starting in mid-November. I also didn't realize people ...Continue Reading
October 2019 Nature Net News – Constellations
October Constellations Now that the sun sets around 7pm (and with daylight saving ending soon) there's plenty of time for pre-bedtime star-gazing with your kids. And, with the new moon (Oct 27, 2019) and a couple clear nights in the forecast (before the snow!), now is a perfect opportunity to brush up on fall constellations in view in the Northern hemisphere. A few of my favorites are viewable around 7pm this time of year: Draco the Dragon, Cygnus the Swan, ...Continue Reading
September 2019 Nature Net News – Climate Conferences
September Climate Conferences You would be hard pressed to turn on the news this week and not see a story about Greta Thunberg and her appearance at the United Nations Climate Action Summit. And so it was, when my middle-school son breezed by my home-office, that I was watching a clip of the 16-year-old activist speaking to an audience of roughly 250,000 protesters in New York city. "Wait, what was that?" he asked. I hit replay and we watched it ...Continue Reading
August 2019 Nature Net News – Composting
July/August Composting Long before memes were cool, and back when chain emails were definitely a thing, I remember being forwarded a massive group message that poked fun at how humans handle yard waste and compost. It took a bit of searching, and it seems no one knows the true origin, but I found a version of the allegory and it goes as follows: God to Saint Francis: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is ...Continue Reading