How to become a botanist in 20 easy steps*!

So you want to be a botanist! Here’s how to do it in 20 easy steps*!

Step 1. Be a curious child. It’s helpful if you’re also raised in the country. Explore outside and be fascinated by nature.

Step 2. Love science. Love it madly and without reservation. Soak up everything you can and ask too many questions.

Step 3. Decide early on that you want to be a paleontologist when you grow up.

Step 4. Be told early on that you can’t actually be a paleontologist when you grow up.

Step 5. Reassess your life goals. Decide that science is still awesome and that you’ll decide on a career later.

Step 6. Take all of the science classes your high school offers and decide that you want to study something that people think is really hard, like brain surgery or rocket science.

Step 7. Graduate from high school and head to a really nice college.

Step 8. Major in environmental science and try to figure out what you really love.

Step 9. Have an eccentric geology professor who reminds you that you can actually be a paleontologist.

Step 10. Take an ecology class and realize that field work is one of your favorite things.

Step 11. Take a field botany course and realize that plants are pretty cool.

Step 12. Get a paleontology internship and be the only biologist among geologists. Extol the wonders of trees to them.

Step 13. Graduate from a really nice college and apply to graduate schools.

Step 14. Only get into one Master’s program. It’s your last choice but go anyway.

Step 15. Sit down with your advisor and be told that you’ll be doing paleoclimate with plant fossils.

Step 16. Start working on your thesis and really enjoy it.

Step 17. Finish up your thesis and start to hate it.

Step 18. Get another paleontology internship. Do more paleoclimate with plant fossils.

Step 19. Decide that you don’t hate your research anymore and apply to PhD programs.

Step 20. Visit a Pleistocene fossil site and realize that you’re more interested in the paleoecology and paleobotany than the mammoths.

Congratulations! You’re a botanist!

*Results may vary.

Baumgartner Florissant Intern

Advertisements

Don’t Squish the Turtles!

Here in Michigan, turtles can be seen crossing the roads in the spring and summer. These turtles are on a mission: to find a mate, to find nesting grounds, to find a place to hibernate. Turtles are amazing and ancient creatures. Sixteen states have at least one turtle species as a state symbol, and Florida has two! This obviously means we should be saving turtles, not squishing them.

So, how do you save a turtle? To put it simply, very carefully. It’s important that if you see a turtle  on the road that you take precautions for your own safety. Don’t put yourself in danger to rescue a turtle! This means pulling into a driveway or pulling completely off of the road to rescue the turtle. 

When moving a turtle off the road, be sure to move it in the direction it was headed. It might be tempting to turn the turtle around and take it to the closer side of the road, but that risks the turtle trying to cross the road again. Also, don’t try to relocate it. Turtles have a home range and might try to return home if you relocate them. 

When picking up the turtle to move it, grab it firmly on either side of the shell behind the front legs. Don’t pick it up too high off the ground just in case it falls. Even small turtles can be surprisingly strong when they want to escape and they can have very long, sharp nails. Don’t pick up turtles by their tails or legs because this could hurt them. 

Florida Redbelly Turtle (by Dr. Tibor Duliskovich)

Snapping turtles are a little more complicated. They have long tails, sharp claws and a mean bite. Don’t pick them up by their tails! If you have a something like a snow-shovel, use it to gently lift the turtle and scoot it off the road. 

When I drive anywhere I make sure that my passenger understands the drill: if there is a turtle in the road, they are expected to help it cross the road. Please do your part to save the turtles on the road and encourage others to do the same!

 

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!

NASA images of Eastern and Western Hemispheres of the Earth

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22nd, 1970. It was developed by senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin as a method of political support for the environmental movement and has been celebrated yearly for the past 43 years.  If you would like to learn more about the history of Earth Day, check out my friend’s blog post at For The Greener Good.

If you’re interested in participating in Earth Day, it could seem overwhelming at first. Never fear, there are many ways to help the planet! The L.A. Times has a list of 7 ways you can honor the planet. Google has a Google Doodle just for the occasion. It’s National Park Week, meaning free admission into all of the United States’ 401 national parks. Add your picture to the face of climate change. Rustle the Leaf has a list of 10 things to do this Earth Day. The EPA has a database of local Earth Day events.

Remember: even the smallest actions add up. Turn off the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth. Turn off the light when you leave a room. Go grocery shopping with a reusable bag. Drink less bottled water and use a reusable water bottle instead. Just go outside and enjoy this planet we live on. Let’s take care of it, because it’s the only one we have.