It was a great day at the zoo. In recognition of International Frog Day, my friend Shawn and I spent the day posing in front of our Frog Taxi poster, explaining why we shuttle frogs across the highway during their winter migration to their breeding ponds and back again. Shawn is the Frog Queen, pretty much, having started the taxi service to begin with (along with our friend Rob). She is even featured in the poster, in her headlamp tiara. But we also had the Frog Princess in the (firm, young) flesh. There is such a thing as a Frog Princess. Evidently. I guess if we absolutely must be obsessed with princesses and we absolutely must dress our little girls in pink tulle all the dang time, it’s good we have at least one Frog Princess.
So we were all set, royalty-wise. And we greeted many young parents with their eager spawn at their sides, and did a little recruiting for the frog-shuttle team, which now boasts some eighty volunteers. There was something a little rough-looking about one father, but he did pay attention, and declared “his boy” would be our best frog-nabber, because he can git ’em like nobody’s business. There was something about him that made me wonder what the boy does with the frogs he gits, but I kept that to myself. And he listened to our whole spiel, the breeding pond, the migration, the intervening Highway Of Death, and then he said:
“So, what good are frogs? What do they do for us?”
Awesome! Clearly, here was an opportunity to educate. Out of the goodness of my heart, I left that opportunity to Shawn, while I excused myself to wander off to a corner where my thoughts wouldn’t leak out. Primarily: What the hell good are you, dipwad?
I often think I would have been a good teacher, once we got past that paddlin’ I’d have to administer to get my students’ attention. So much is lost when there hasn’t been any foundation laid about our puny place in the universe, and people have grown all the way into adulthood with blinders of ignorance on, allowing them to imagine that their own needs are paramount, and can be fulfilled with a big TV and a big car to roar around in and a bag of chips and some foldin’ money; and the trail of detritus we leave behind has no consequence. I simply don’t know where to start to answer a question like his, although there are many answers. I do know when to start. With kids.
That’s one of the reasons I keep humiliating myself in the Birdathon van: to raise money for the Portland Audubon Society, with its great educational outreach. Yes, once again, after a year off to think about what I’ve done, I am going to sally forth and attempt to identify one single bird species before anyone else does, with all day to do it. We’re likely to spot over a hundred, so you’d think this would be easy, but it’s not. Eleven other people in that van are going to be confidently hollering out bird IDs from chips and squeaks and dots in the sky and tricks of the light, and I’m going to be pointing and saying ooo ooo ooo like a chimpanzee. It’s mortifying. My method is to get one in the brain pan all ready to fire and wait for it to flit by. I do get marginally better every year but I am to bird-watching what Kim Kardashian is to erudition.
|Hear ye! Hear ye!|
That’s not fair. I don’t actually know who Kim Kardashian is, which means it’s possible she’s a bird.
Anyway, I do have a donation page you can toss an eyeball at, and go ahead and pitch in if you want. I’d like to help Portland Audubon teach the children well, and preserve something to teach them about. Get the little dickenses outside noticing things besides themselves, before they grow up and think they’re all that and a bag of chips.
Would you like to help me raise funds for Portland Audubon? You can do it right here.
I do donate to our Audubon here so will have to pass, but all birds thank you so much! I think that man asked the BEST question, because now he will have no reason to ignore this aspect of the environment. It is hard for some folks to see the big picture.
Seems like there's so much education needed to bring people up to speed on the big picture. I'm always baffled how to go about it. I think if I had time to work up a curriculum it would involve lots of examples of spectacular interconnectedness (like the whale poop saga, or alpha predators, or wasps that lay eggs in caterpillar bodies) that would be fascinating and drive the point home at the same time.
I'd like to help with the funding, but the exchange rate is a bit offputting, plus I'm just about flat broke anyway. I hope you spot a previously-unseen-in-this-area bird before anyone else this year, even if you do name it ooo-ooo-ooo 🙂
You're right! I can always make one up!
Growing up ignorant is a big problem, but I think you are right to go after the young 'uns in order to change that outcome. Good luck getting a positive i.d. on a bird before the others. How do you handle the pressure?
See "not giving a shit," previous post.
I agree that going after the kids is the way to change things. I have heard of kids nagging their parents about recycling, being less wasteful, etc., after learning about these things. (No first-hand experience here; I never liked children even when I was a child. Never ever wanted any!) But like any humans, some of them are wonderful… but it's the idjits that one sees/hears the most.
And my mother would have been mortified if I insisted on going to the supermarket in a pink tulle princess dress.
That pink tulle princess dress thing must be different than it was in the old days. Princesses must be stronger and more interesting or something. Because I can't believe ALL the little girls have gone bubble-headed at once.
I fear it’s the mommies who have gone bubble-headed from a lifetime of tv advertizing, disneyphilia, and the strange competitive parenting styles that have grown out of media hyperconnectivity. I hated pink as a silly color as a child. (I also informed my mother when I was four that chartreuse was nauseating, so I’m pretty sure I was only a different kind of annoying from the pink tulle princesses.)
I did too. But as you probably know, I did have a pink Easter dress. We had ONE princess in our fourth-grade Halloween costume party. I was horrified.
If I was rich, I’d love to. This year I joined a local Audubon club in Ga, donated button bushes to the hatchery, and several times gave money to fight for saving the EPA And keeping Bears Ears intact. Never have we had such challandes to our environment, wildlife, and democracy. Thanks for all you do.
Hey, I don't know button bushes! Or what they have to do with a hatchery. What kind of hatchery? Inquiring minds.
If it helps, picture the adults as children in grownup bodies – they didn't get the education they needed when they were little and that's basically the only difference between them and us. We were the lucky ones.
Best of luck spotting your prize!
You're right, because I'd have a totally different reaction to a four-year-old asking me what good a frog was, although Jeez–most of them KNOW. Then they forget.
I don't know if most of the four-year-old's do know. Yesterday I read an article about a PEI potato farmer – she does presentations in schools from time to time, and an eight-year-old asked her why we need farmers. It's not exactly the same but it's close!
But I agree that the younger you can get 'em, the better it'll be, for the frogs, the farmers, and the whole earth 🙂
That's really something. Eight.
Ooo-ooo-ooo is pretty much my default cry at the wonders of our world.
And yes, education needs to start early. Very early. And continue. Lifelong.
No reason to stop now, given how much we haven't a clue about!
Git 'em while they're young. If they don't learn early they will not learn later. The Jesuits, I believe, were onto that.
I know nothing about Jesuits except that they are religious and focused on education. Right?
I can't afford to give money, but do give my time in being a docent at our local Audubon exhibit hall. It always surprises me when the 3 and 4 yr olds tell me facts about the exhibits. I think I like doing it because most of the parents that bring their children are interested in letting their children know from the beginning how important their environment is. It sorta reaffirms my faith in humanity.
That's really true. I think the gentleman and his son that I described were coming in out of the cold rain. I know that's why the princesses spent so much time in there. (Oh yes–we had Snow White and a couple others, too!)