Who explores nature for a living? Learning from naturalists and biologists

Despite my love for nature and sharing it with my son, I am not a biologist (but I am a naturalist). I don’t know every bird I see, although I know more birds than I do plants. What is important is that I am willing to learn (whether or not I think I’ll remember) and am engaged with the natural world.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Me watching birds at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, WA (photo by Patrick)

There are many people however, who do know their birds and plants, and all other organisms on the tree of life. I feel that attending events that allow biologists and naturalists to showcase their knowledge is a crucial part of fostering a love of nature in children.

Tryon Creek State Park

Patrick learns about plants at Tryon Creek State Park, Portland, OR

To a child, learning that someone has devoted their career to studying some aspect of nature can be powerful. I’ve read many times about how scientists we’re inspired to go into science because of someone they encountered as a child. Paleontologists for young dinosaur enthusiasts, astronauts for space-crazed kids. Why not expose a child to all manner of naturalists?

Painted Turtle Walk at Smith and Bybee Wetlands, Portland, OR

Patrick views an osprey with a naturalist at Smith and Bybee Wetlands, Portland, OR (photos by Catherine)

My late grandfather was an amateur naturalist, and I started out in college in biology (and later moved on to history of science). I am not ashamed to admit that I would be delighted to see my son grow up and become a biologist. He can do what he wants when the time comes, but I do not think there is harm in providing a window into the world of people who study nature for a living.

Looking at an owl pellet, Muddy Boots Family Nature Club at Mount Talbert Nature Park

Patrick dissects an owl pellet with nature educators at Mount Talbert Nature Park

Whether biologists turned environmental educators, biology students at a local university, or professional naturalists, scientists love to share their knowledge and research.

Graham Oaks Nature Park, Wilsonville, OR

Patrick learns about beavers at Graham Oaks Nature Park, Wilsonville, OR

What better way to enhance learning about nature than to get it straight from the minds and hands of those who do it for a living. Follow your local nature parks and nature organizations through Facebook or email lists, and you will learn about family events that provide the opportunity to have your child meet naturalists and learn from them.

Arachnid Night at Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR

Patrick learns about spiders from a biologist at Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR

Previous: This week I am a Nature Rocks Ambassador! | Getting outside with your children should not be a tedious affair. Simply put, just get outside! | Keeping essential exploring tools handy makes nature play a more natural part of the day | Ways to extend outdoor experiences beyond outside | Nature in your neighborhood | Who explores nature for a living? Learning from naturalists and biologists | We are all connected: Chemically, ecologically, and evolutionarily

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9 Responses to Who explores nature for a living? Learning from naturalists and biologists

  1. This is so true! And it’s really nice for me not to have to be the one with all the answers. The kids always have so many questions, and it’s great to have folks around who actually know the answers, or at least know where to look.

  2. Pingback: This week I am a Nature Rocks Ambassador! | Exploring Portland's Natural Areas

  3. Pingback: Connecting children to nature « The Dispersal of Darwin

  4. Pingback: We are all connected: chemically, ecologically, and evolutionarily | Exploring Portland's Natural Areas

  5. Pingback: Keeping essential exploring tools handy makes nature play a more natural part of the day | Exploring Portland's Natural Areas

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  7. Pingback: Sometimes the best places to explore nature are in your own backyard and in your neighborhood | Exploring Portland's Natural Areas

  8. Pingback: Getting outside with your children should not be a tedious affair. Simply put, just get outside! | Exploring Portland's Natural Areas

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