Winter Reflections

By Guest Blogger: Bailey Stanard

As a part time interpretive naturalist sitting in the warm office of my full time job while my naturalist coworkers get to explore the great outdoors this week, I find myself a little less envious than on a warm spring day. Being a Minnesotan all my life, I would think I would be used to the frostbite wind chills, ice comets on the road shoulders, and skate worthy sidewalks. Though, every year it always seems to terrify me a bit more than usual and this year more than any other.

Each day I try to deny myself that this winter must have been the same as last year, that I am remembering it wrong and it’s my bad memory to blame for the colder temperatures and lack of snow. Every year, I try to convince myself climate change is happening slower. I want to believe that the world is changing and nature nerds like me are making a significant impact to the political state. And then the election happened…

Leading up to the results there were many stances that threatened parts of nature conservation and preservation that were of particular interest. Some of the unknowns at the time included: the EPA appointment, energy policy and economics, carbon dioxide emission laws, and the regulations of wetlands. All of these issues have a direct impact on climate change and these actions may well dictate its progression.

I was in Mexico when I heard the news, voting absentee of course. The next day I flew home and all of my friends updated me on where they were when they heard the results, which people tend to do when a historic event occurs. The next day I traveled to Finland, MN to the Minnesota Naturalists’ Association Conference feeling apprehensive and a bit less sparkly.

I was surrounded by true experts, inspired by their experience and unwillingness to waiver in the true face of adversity. I talked to as many people as possible about their challenges and the differences they personally make on environmental education in Minnesota. One seminar I attended was about lichens (which I know next to nothing about). I learned all about identification, testing, and the journey that presenter Joe Walewski had taken with his passion. I felt that ignite into my love of nature and I found myself tracking down Jane Votca, a Naturalist with Three Rivers Park District and a truly remarkable human, and told her we must do this lab at our nature center.

As the weekend progressed I found opinions not defeated but motivating with an overwhelming willingness to take control and work harder in the signs of hardship. I found a positive and compassionate force to push progression and work longer with messages of hope and persistence. Despite the current state of politics and the state of climate change, I find myself filled with gratitude amongst a community of naturalist warriors who are willing to brave Minnesota winters to educate in a chance to preserve our most precious resources.

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