I was glad to have the opportunity to spend an hour in the morning with the Wellsboro High School Natural Resources class, leading a walk focused on noticing how wildlife can be viewed as indicators of the health of the environments they call home. As a general rule, greater biodiversity means healthier habitat. We took note of mayflies and caddisflies in the stream, catbirds, ovenbirds, flickers, and towhee's (among other avian species) in the bushes and trees, and northern two-lined, redback, and dusky salamanders under the rocks of a spring bubbling forth off of the hillside. One of the highlights was when the northern flicker approached and in territorial fashion displayed his tail fan!
That was not all, as I was invited back to Wellsboro High School for the Field Biology class for an hour in the afternoon. We walked to the Wellsboro Cemetery and got to hear a couple of fish crows on the East side of the cemetery and witness a couple of Merlin falcons actively watching over their territory on the West side of the cemetery. I'm hoping that this year the fish crows and Merlin's will stick to their respective sides so both species can experience nesting success. Two years ago a drama unfolded as each ended up vying for the same nest and it left both species stressed to the point that (as far as I could tell) no eggs were laid by either. It would be incredible to see some young falcons fledge the nest and to be able to share that experience.
I was filled with joy to witness the birds, but the most inspiring part of the day for me was the knowledge, insight, experiences and questions that were shared by the students in the AgScience classes.
Finding God, self, and community in wild spaces. The better we know our wild neighbors the more we'll discover ourselves.
A vision informed by Henry David Thoreau’s interpretation of sauntering, Jesus’ understanding of neighbor, Aldo Leopold’s concept of thinking like a mountain, Rachel Carson’s prophetic voice and John Muir’s way of capturing the beauty and uniqueness of wild neighbors with words.