Volunteers Observe Impacts of Climate Change

IMG_0612Photo by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the high in Boston could hit sixty degrees today. Later this week, temperatures are predicted to be in the high forties and low fifties. This kind of weather has been the rule, rather than the exception, throughout this warm New England winter. As this story out of Maine demonstrates, volunteers are front and center when it comes to observing the ramifications of a warmer climate. These volunteers with Aroostook Birders are seeing countless indicators of just how climate change is impacting bird species. Many birds are staying in the area much longer, rather than flying south, and other birds are appearing for the first time ever. These changes can and likely will have ripple effects throughout the ecosystem in Maine and in every region where these wildlife population changes are taking place.

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Volunteers Instead of Technology

Up a TreePhoto by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

There are more and more examples around us of humans being replaced by technology. It’s a phenomenon that has been going on for many years and shows no signs of slowing down, especially as our technology becomes even more advanced. Environmental volunteers are not immune to this, they too can in some cases be replaced by machines. Stories on this blog have highlighted the fact that drones and even satellites in space are now being used as tools in the work of environmental volunteers. On the other hand, as this story out of Slate points out, it may be better to stick with human volunteers rather than hi-tech toys. Specifically, the essay discusses counting birds, and even more specifically, the Christmas Bird Count that happens every winter, organized by the Audubon Society. As the author points out, this kind of very human method of data collection may have far more benefits than those which utilize only emotionless computers and algorithms.

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Volunteers Cleaning Up in the United Arab Emirates

13-08-06-abu-dhabi-by-RalfR-029Photo by Ralf Roletschek, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

by Robert Barossi

While most of the stories on this blog happen to occur in and around the United States, environmental volunteers are working constantly all over the world. Environmental devastation and crises in every nation are tackled by professionals and volunteers alike. This story out of the United Arab Emirates illustrates the kind of volunteer work that you will find happening on every continent, in every country. Just like parks and beaches everywhere, the ones in Abu Dhabi are often filled with trash and litter. While efforts to get people to stop littering work to some degree, it’s dedicated volunteers who must come by after the picnics are over and the tourists are gone to collect the trash and clean up the litter.

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Volunteers and the BLM

Digital Camera

Photo by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

The continental United States spans a land mass of over three million square miles. Within all those miles are many acres of open land, the kind of wide open spaces you hear about it country songs and tales of the  wild west. Much of that land is owned and managed by the federal government and it’s the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which oversees millions of those acres. According to the agency’s website, “It administers more public land – over 245 million surface acres – than any other Federal agency in the United States” and works to “sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.”  As this article from Utah explains, volunteers are an integral part of what the BLM does on the public lands under its protection. The story provides great details on all the great work performed by approximately 750 volunteers who gave 16,736 hours to the BLM in 2015. It’s a great look into the numerous ways volunteers are working for a government agency while working for their local environment and the planet.

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Environmental Volunteers in Space?

Through the TreesPhoto by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

Ok, so the volunteers aren’t actually in space. But they are using images taken from space to do important volunteer work that’s having a major impact. As this article from Christian Science Monitor points out, satellite images and aerial photography are being used as an important tool in the work of environmental volunteers. Working along with organizations such as SkyTruth, volunteers can use the images taken from space to identify earth-bound locations that are impacting the local environment, such as fracking well sites.  Images taken from space can be now be an important part of environmental activism and advocacy as well as an essential element of citizen science efforts aimed at collecting environmental data.

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Fifty Years of Volunteer Work

Through the Treesphoto by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

Many environmental volunteer stories deal with a one-time event or shot term project. Others stories, though, demonstrate how volunteers are often involved with a particular place for a long period of time. In upstate New York, just outside of Syracuse, the Baltimore Woods Nature Center has been connecting local citizens with their natural surroundings for five decades. And, as this story points out, community members and volunteers have been a part of the nature center’s work since the very beginning. Speaking of those volunteers, Executive Director Kate Intaglietta says, “Very few of them, if you ask, really knew each other before they came to Baltimore Woods. What’s inspiring for a lot of us in the work we do is … to see what that’s done for the organization in the past 50 years and to see what they’re excited about for the next 50 years.”

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Volunteers at the Film Festival

IMG_0304

Photo by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

After a long holiday-season hiatus, I’m finally posting the first story of the new year. A year which I’m sure will bring many more great stories of environmental volunteers and their inspiring, amazing work. There are countless ways for people to get involved and support environmental causes. This story out of Nevada City, California features volunteers who are doing just that at an environmentally-themed film festival. Along with nature and the environment, film is one of my other great passions and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival sounds like a fantastic event. I wish there were more festivals like this around the country, festivals which get people to connect with nature in new and different ways.  This one also gives people a chance to show their support for the environment by volunteering at the event. If you’re in the area, be sure to check out the festival, and while you’re there, be sure to thank the volunteers for all that they do.

There are more great environmental volunteer stories in my eBook, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day. Download it at the following links:

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Climate Change, Birds and Volunteers

P1000364(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

According to Weather.com, it’s 44 degrees Fahrenheit today, here in the Boston area. Above normal, for sure, but perhaps not as shocking as this coming weekend. Temperatures are expected to hit the high 50s by the end of the week and then reach 62 degrees on Sunday. That’s Sunday, December 13th. These types of unusual temperatures have numerous impacts and ripple effects, on us humans as well as every other animal species.

This great story out of upstate New York details how citizen scientist volunteers are helping collect data on birds of prey. The volunteers are working alongside professionals in Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, cataloging the presence of raptors, from owls to hawks and numerous others. They are also seeing some of the ways temperature changes are impacting the birds, such as changes in migration observed in certain owl species.

Surveying and monitoring birds is just one way to deal with the ways climate change impacts our avian friends. As described in this blog post from the National Audubon Society, volunteers can also help by  protecting and maintaining bird habitats. Specifically, the story deals with volunteers with Audubon Miami Valley in Ohio who are working to remove invasive species which are negatively impacting places where birds find food and shelter. It’s another way that we can help birds, and other species, survive in the new environments and ecosystems created by the changing climate.

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Environmental Volunteers Coast to Coast

Foliage Reflected

by Robert Barossi

This morning, I noticed three environmental stories that just happened to perfectly span the United States, proving once again that volunteers are working on important environmental projects from sea to shining sea.

On the east coast, in Hackensack, New Jersey, over one hundred volunteers took part in an annual event to clean up litter in open spaces around the city.

Right in the middle, in Champaign, Illinois, volunteers are working to make the city greener with a focus on recycling and litter reduction.

And on the west coast, in Sacramento, California, almost 200 volunteers picked up over 20,000 pounds of trash.

These are the kinds of inspiring environmental volunteer stories you’ll find on this blog and in my eBook, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day. Available at the following links.

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After the Volunteers Test the Waters

IMG_0214(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

My last post offered a number of stories about volunteer efforts to clean up local rivers. Volunteers are also often the people who collect water samples from those rivers for local experts to test. There are many reasons why this is important and essential work, as detailed in this story from South Carolina. That state was recently hit with a devastating and deadly flood event. When the waters from flooding recede, they are often, if not always, filled with greater levels of bacteria, pollution and chemicals. Volunteers like the ones in the story linked above are often tasked with collecting samples of those degraded waters so that scientists can find out just how polluted or unsafe the water might be. This effort in South Carolina was led by Waccamaw Riverkeeper and their volunteers, along with volunteers from Coastal Carolina University’s Waccamaw Watershed Academy.

If you’ve enjoyed the stories on this blog, download m eBook – Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day. Available at the following links.

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Telling the Stories of Environmental Volunteers

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