Highlights from the SEJ Conference

This past week I was fortunate to receive a scholarship to attend the annual Society of Environmental Journalists Conference, which took place in Flint, Michigan this year. Thanks to the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research for offering scholarships to college students in the region.

Participants took part in educational seminars, brainstorming sessions, spoke with scientists, and acquainted other colleagues, editors, and publishers in the field. Tours were offered throughout the region, and I elected to visit the Pigeon River Country State Park. We saw three bull elk – a first for me!

In Downtown Flint, the Mott Foundation Building stands as essentially a cathedral of Art Deco design.

I walked around a little and explored the immediate surroundings. Some parts of the city still have an eerie ghost town vibe. I didn’t take this sign up on the invitation to walk in.

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WALK-INS. Flint, Michigan.

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Another shot from the Pigeon River Country. The Michigan woods are quite lovely in fall.

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Prairie Crayfish at Schlitz Audubon

Recent storms have allowed Schlitz Audubon staff to see a species not often observed on our land, the Prairie Crayfish (Procambarus gracilus). Read here about this interesting native wildlife species at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, often hiding in burrows just below our feet in the prairie.

Mystery Rodent Scurrying Near the Milwaukee River

Near the Milwaukee River, we saw what I first thought was a Muskrat, my son thought was a baby Beaver.

It turned out to be a Groundhog, also called a Woodchuck. Woodchuck babes are called “chucklings.” These large rodents are native to the area, and if you’re not worried about holes in your lawn, they’re quite fun to watch.

Community Gardens: A Poem About Plants in Nature

I was at work the other day, asking about planting strategies with a very experienced land management specialist. He mentioned something, almost as an afterthought, about how forbs need root competition to flourish long-term. Otherwise they grow too large and collapse on themselves. I found this interesting and ended up writing a poem about it. We published it on our Blog at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. It’s pretty fantastic that I’ve got a job where I’m invited to write poetry about nature.

Go here to read Community Gardens, a poem about how plants depend on one another.

A Lake Michigan Snapshot at Dusk

A view of Lake Michigan as the sun goes down behind me in Milwaukee. I enjoyed how this one tree on the right was getting a last sliver of light. It’s a ok picture, fine for a phone. I’ve got a DSLR I’ve really got to learn how to use properly. I think that’s something I’m going to focus on this summer while I’ve got access to Lynda.com through school.

Cheerful Death Poem

I’ve always been fascinated by how we’re generally so bad at dealing with something we all do. I was in a contemporary literature class and some facet of death came up during the lecture, I don’t recall what exactly. I thought of this poem and started typing it during a break in the lecture action. So if someday somebody wants to put me in a cement-lined designer velvet casket – you know what to do.