An Eco-friendly Venture

Monday, August 3, 2009

Planting Trees to Help the Environment

One way that we can be good environmental stewards of this planet is to plant trees. Trees are a source of life, and they provide a delicate balance to our ecosystem. Trees remove air pollution, filter out chemicals and agricultural waste in water, and they save communities across the country millions of dollars in stormwater management costs. They also act as a Carbon sink, taking Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere, and storing it. Trees also improve community health by removing air and water pollution that can make you ill.

A crucial part of my long term goal is to purchase undeveloped land that has been disturbed and restore it to a natural state. I know I have written a lot about money and how I would raise money to purchase land. Land is not cheap, even previously disturbed land. That is why I have to use Global Ecotec to run an eco-friendly business that hopefully turns a profit. Land acquisition would come out of any profit made by the business. The land purchased, as I wrote before, would be restored to as close to a natural state as possible and also used as an educational center for the FieldTaught concept of environmental education.

To return disturbed land to a natural state we would plant as many trees as the land would support, leaving only a small area for a teaching compound. That is why you see a donation box on the right side of the page. Anyone who wants to help with this effort can donate money. For every dollar donated, a seedling would be planted in the donors name. You can donate as many times as you want. Now I want to make this point clear: Before we can plant trees, we need to buy land. Any money donated before land is acquired will not be spent but saved in a dedicated bank account until land is purchased. As I mentioned before, my family owns a large piece of land in Alabama; however, I live approximately 5 hours from the site. So I cannot keep an eye on the trees and make sure they are watered and kept healthy. Perhaps in the future I could hire someone or get a local volunteer to do this.

Seedlings for this project in Louisiana would likely be obtained from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry seed orchards. These seed orchards have been tested for superior growth and disease resistance. The growth rates on these seedlings average about 17% increase in growth rates from wild seedlings. If the property is located in another state, then we would coordinate with that state's forestry department to see what would be the optimal species' to use to reforest the area.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Legally in Business

I am finally legally in business! I have formed an LLC called Global Ecotec. I plan to run any moneymaking enterprises through the LLC, and save any profits to buy undeveloped acreages. When I have my first large parcel of land and hopefully a following, I plan to launch the FieldTaught seminars for people who are interested in getting into Environmental Work but do not have much experience. In the meantime, I plan to raise money by selling handmade or eco-friendly items on my website. I hope to travel to countries where there are craftsmen who are looking for an outlet to sell their goods. I would like to help poorer people of the world without exploiting them. I would buy their work at a fair price and sell it in the US, and hopefully make enough to send some of it back to the people of that region. I have contacts in Thailand, so that is where I would probably start. If anyone is interested in particular items from Thailand or other countries please let me know. Like I said the profit from this would go towards start up of the FieldTaught environmental education program. Also on this land I want to use alternative means to generate electricity (wind, solar) and could have a class on wind energy where we construct a windmill along with the associated storage facility. There are so many possibilities once we get started. At some point I may lead a group to Thailand to visit my contact's small farm. We could help run the farm more efficiently and make it ecologically sustainable. I know this is looking ahead but it is good to have goals.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Places I Have Worked Lately

I am still working at my consulting job by day and working towards getting the FieldTaught Concept together as a full time occupation. Lately, at my day job I have been performing many biological surveys all over the country. I rarely stay in the office for more than a week. Next week I am conducting Threatened and Endangered species surveys in North Florida. This is the part of the job I really enjoy and want to teach others how to get a job and do this. I took some photographs of some of the locations where I have worked lately. I am not a professional photographer. I use a digital camera and point and click.
This is a desert grassland in the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona. I do a LOT of work in Arizona. It is very beautiful and it was not too hot when I was here. It was probably 75F when I started and 90F by the time I was through. There was almost no humidity, that is always nice but you have to be diligent about staying hydrated. I use a camelback (I will put one on the side bar) they are great. I use it anytime I am not really close to the vehicle.
This is a photograph of Chihuahuan Desert Scrub. It is very dry and rocky, but a good place to find lizards, snakes, and small mammals. Again, in low humidity the sweat evaporates off of your body so fast you can forget to drink water. My two best safety tips for this type of habitat. 1. HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE! 2. Always watch where you put your feet. That tip is pretty much for all habitats. If you watch where you put your feet, you will never step on a venomous snake. Some people I work with wear snake chaps, I do not, but that is a personal preference. I have worked with and around snakes for 20 years. I respect them but do not fear them, but you cannot let your guard down-always be vigilant.
This photograph was taken in North Florida while surveying for gopher tortoises. This type of habitat is similar to that of the property I plan to use for the initial FieldTaught courses. I grew up in the Southeast US and learned the plants and animals of Southeastern Forests during my BS and MS programs. I moved to the Southwest US to work on a PhD, where I learned the plants and animals of the Southwest.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Field Books

The field books recommended on the sidebar are just a few of the books that I would require for a biology field class and a geology field class. I will add books on native plants and other subjects at a later date. I own all of these and use them regularly. I plan to write my own Field Methods Manual as well as much of the other books.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

An Update on the FieldTaught System

Well, mostly I have been thinking and preparing to take that leap of faith to go out on my own and create a field school where I can with the help of other scientist in other fields offer a well-rounded curriculum for person who desires to learn how and what a field scientist does. Not to say that all science is field work, however, if you asked most researchers in the natural sciences, I am sure they would say the field portion is the best part.

So at this point in time I am concentrating on the legal and financial challenges that are involved in bringing this dream to fruition. I will either form a Corporation or a NPO (Non-profit organization). I have little experience with either, but have a partner who has been in retail as a manager for nearly 18 years and a father who owns his own environmental business, so I am leaning toward corporation. But that could change as soon as I have legal counsel. I have thought of a great name for the corporation or NPO, but I am not going to divulge that until it is legally registered.

As I said before, field work is only a portion of environmental research and at this point I have not written a curriculum or even a syllabus for a single class, but I am sure I would have to include a section on how to write a report. You do want to report your findings! I would also provide examples of my publications as well as those of other scientist in other fields. It may not be your desire to publish in a scientific journal (and that is OK). But, if you did, it would be nice to know how the peer review system works and how collaboration with other scientist can increase the likelihood of being published. I am not promising anyone that taking a field course would get you published, but you cannot rule that out either. There are all kinds of publications. Major publications can take months or years of research, but there are minor publications such as natural history notes, range extensions, and new techniques published in journals all the time. If you are looking for a job as a field technician or even want to pursue a graduate degree, having these types of publications on your resume can be an important asset towards landing that position. As I said before, I just wanted to update anyone interested in learning field research, on my progress to date. My goal to quit my day job and go full time as an instructor of the FieldTaught system is January 1, 2010. I have even bought hosting and the domain name and I am working on a web page for the entire organization of which FieldTaught is only one aspect. I am a well rounded Environmental Scientist with 20+ years of experience, thus, I have many plans for this organization, from carbon sequestering to alternative means of energy production. I would also teach these topics and how to get involved in them in FieldTaught courses. Enough for now, but I will try to update this page more often until the website is up and running.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Have Thought About This for a Long Time

I have given considerable thought to this FieldTaught concept for a long time. It probably goes back as far as in the late 1990s when I found out that the land my family owns in Alabama could be prime habitat for the red hills salamander (Phaeognathus hubrichti). This species is listed threatened by USFWS. I have wanted to survey the limited habitat preferred by this salamander for years. The only problem being that I have not lived in the area for some time. My father who actually owns the land has told me that he plans to give me this land. There is about 200 acres but only about 15 acres of it would suitable for the red hills salamander. However, the rest of the land is primarily pine plantation with a few random hardwood patches. There are a lot of species to be studied there. There are really only two problems with starting with this parcel of land. 1.) It is probably a two hour drive from a decent commercial airport (Mobile). 2.) It is surrounded by hunting leases, So I would not want to take anyone out there during hunting season. However, this may have to be the initial base of this project until I could raise sufficient funds to purchase more accessible but undeveloped land.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The FieldTaught Concept

I was trying to come up with an idea to help conserve wildlife habitat and be a field biologist at the same time. I came to one conclusion, if I was to conserve wildlife habitat, I would have to obtain a decent sized parcel of undeveloped land. Ideally this land would have multiple habitat types such as pine plantation, hardwood bottomland, wetland areas and perhaps a creek or river frontage. This would give me the opportunity to begin Phase II of my plan, have a place where people of all walks of life could come to learn about wildlife in the field. Since I am trained mainly in herpetology, freshwater ichthyology and mammalogy I would start out instructing these types of field courses . I am thinking of calling this organization FieldTaught.

The FieldTaught organization would be created to help everyone appreciate the diversity of flora and fauna in the U.S. We would teach courses on reptiles and amphibians, small mammals, birds, fish, plants and invertebrates. We believe one of the best ways to do that is to train people in the skills needed to identify, record, track, or monitor wildlife and plants. In addition, our courses help participants understand the status and legislation surrounding different species and provide up-to-date information on how to conserve our natural heritage.

Yes there would be fees for courses, but most of this money would be used to by more undeveloped properties in different ecosystems. Although I grew up and received a BS and MS in the Southeast U.S., I went to graduate school in New Mexico and have worked as a field biologist all over the southwest U.S.

I think when I get this concept off the ground the possibilities could be limitless. Specialist in geology, archeology, and sustainable and green living could be hired as instructors. Make learning fun.