Thursday, November 28, 2013

The new Volunteer Coordinator Assistant

Kirrin Peart will be the VIP Coordinator Assistant this winter season. Born and raised in Chico, CA, Kirrin has always had a connection to the outdoors. From a young age, her parents recognized her passion for nature and encouraged her to pursue it as a career. As a high school student, Kirrin interned with Lassen National Volcanic Park and from there has volunteered and worked at a variety of parks across the country, including a summer spent in Washington D.C. working for the National Council for Preservation Education.  Most recently, Kirrin has worked as an interpretive ranger at Yellowstone. While she has too many memories to count from her years in the parks, Kirrin credits helping to open the first visitor center in Lassen Volcanic National Park, backpacking throughout Olympic and watching wolves and grizzlies in Yellowstone amongst the highlights.

Kirrin is a recent graduate of Western Washington University, with a BA in Archaeology and a minor in Geology. While in school, she served as the Anthropology Club President and presented at conferences on the varying conceptual theories regarding early settlement of the Americas. After spending her first summer working in Yellowstone, she acquired an interest in Bison and began conducting experimental archeology, attempting to make her own tools using Bison bones, quickly discovering that it was much harder than it sounded.

When she isn’t working, Kirrin is an avid wildlife watcher, hiker and kayaker. She is excited to spend her winter in Everglades, exploring new places and viewing a whole new world of wildlife.

Enjoy the holidays, no blog post on 11/28/13. Will resume on 12/5/13

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Toss, Scoop, Freeze

These are the words to abide by when volunteering with Fisheries Biologist Zachary Fratto. After a 45 minute ride to the research plot, Fratto, Kevin Bowles Mohr, and Jacob Osborne tossed, scooped, and froze for the next 4 hours.
Wading in the enormous scenic river of grass, surrounded by periphyton, tree islands, and the sounds of pig and cricket frogs, Jacob, Zach, and Kevin worked diligently on their project in the research plot that has been continuously monitored since the 1970’s.
Zach places the minnow cage based on pre-determined random selections in the research plot. Carrying the contraption above his head, Zach slogs through the sawgrass to the desired location and tosses it into the river of grass.
First, they identify the plants within the cage; the percentage of plant coverage, the average water depth, and the volume of bladderwort and periphyton. Next, they use the sein net to scoop and capture any fish, crayfish, shrimp, or other invertebrates like the Alligator flea or fingernail clams. These are all thrown on ice to freeze them for later research purposes. Lastly, they use two nets to scoop any remaining creatures before moving on to the next placement. In order to move, each net must scoop 5 times without a single living thing being captured.
Zach Fratto has 8 research plots in which he must visit 5 times a year; each plot has 7 sections to be monitored as detailed above. To achieve this standard, Zach relies on volunteer interns throughout the year to assist him. On occasion, he might have an empty seat on the airboat and willing to take another volunteer. This could be you . . .

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Writer Among the Glades

November we give thanks, and thank Bill Maxwell for being our November Artist-in-Residence-in-Everglades Fellow. Bill Maxwell first began teaching English and journalism in 1973 at Kennedy-King College in Chicago and continued to teach at several other colleges and universities for more than 20 years. Currently, he is an adjunct professor at St. Petersburg College and a columnist for the Tampa Bay Times.

“Born in Fort Lauderdale, I am a lifelong lover of the Everglades,” says Maxwell.

Throughout his careers as an educator and journalist, Bill Maxwell has written about protecting and enjoying our environmental treasures. Some of his work has influenced readers to write letters to newspapers and to contact their legislators.

“Like John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey, and others, I want to make the environment come alive on the page by creating word pictures, drawing readers vicariously into the magnificence our natural wild places. We nonfiction writers -- journalists, essayists, and memoirists -- have helped to establish the aesthetic value and material efficacy of the Glades.”

Access to one of Bill’s columns, please click on the link,

Read Bill’s book, Finding Yourself: A Spiritual Journey through a Florida Garden, (Bok Tower Gardens) or the one pictured here.

To read Bill Maxwell’s entire biography, please visit our website at