When I enrolled in the Environmental Practicum, I did not know quite what to expect. I have been trying to become more involved in local conservation efforts, and this seemed like it would be in that vein. While I was definitely surprised when the topic for the practicum was revealed, I was also very excited. For one, I was already familiar with the Window Strike Project being headed by Dr. Hess and Dr. Ryan. While I have never exactly been a bird fanatic, I knew window strikes were a problem, and I was interested in hearing about the eventual findings of the study. This course will obviously relate very closely to the Window Strike Project.
As I have shifted my academic focus from medical-related fields to Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB), I have cherished opportunities to make connections with conservation-minded groups. The opportunity to work with Lights Out Indy is significant as it represents another area of conservation that I have yet to experience. I’m also working as an intern at Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park this semester, where, in large part, I will be aiding in the removal of invasive plants. There has been a slightly ironic personal dynamic established here: while I have yet to gather details, my supervisor has informed me that the Indy Audubon Society is advising the park against the removal of the plants, deeming the act of removal (cutting, spraying herbicide, and sometimes burning) to be too disruptive to the habitats of the native birds. Another duty I will have during my internship will be doing research on this apparent conflict and helping Fort Harrison and the Indy Audubon Society find the best solution possible.
What perhaps entices me the most about this course is the notion of educating people on the importance of conservation efforts of every kind. I look forward to overcoming the “So what?” factor when presenting people with facts on bird strikes. I feel that most people, while open to the idea of conservation, really don’t have much motivation to make the appropriate changes in their lives, whatever they may be. I think it’s safe to say this would ring at least doubly true when the issue is birds hitting windows. It will be very interesting seeing how well different strategies work when trying to educate people and raise awareness/participation.