And it comes to an end…

Mianna Maestas:
Time is going by far too fast!

I live such a chaotic life that it doesn’t feel as though the festival was already a week ago!

Considering that our office will be moving to Monte Vista, the last two weeks of my journey will be spent helping pack up and getting the show on the road.

This week I spent my time cleaning things up from the festival and getting things organized so that everything is easier to find for next year. I also started a binder for the interns next year that give directions on games we used for outreach, our protocol, and other odds and ends that they may need. I know I will be around next year to help them out.

I am sad that Deisy’s time is over and that I have no one to pick on, laugh at, or spend time with. I am happy to see her be successful in Denver, but there are days that I just miss her presence.

I am not sure I like that summer is over because school is in full swing and I hardly get to see or spend time with my buddies from work. It makes me sad, yet excited because I know that I have the privilege to spend another summer with them and have even more good times together!

Until next time…..

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EFTA’s 2nd annual America’s Latino Eco Festival

This past weekend, the Environment for the Americas headquarters team in Boulder, CO participated in the 2nd annual America’s Latino Eco Festival.  The festival is one of the world’s first environmental festivals hosted by Latino Americans.  Last year was the first year the festival was put into action, and we were also a part of the pilot year so it was interesting to see the development and changes to the festival from last year to this year.  This year, the festival was hosted at The Dairy Center for the Arts.  The week leading up to the festival was very busy and consumed with finalizing details, logistics, and helping the Art Director, Mary Powell, with art installations throughout The Dairy all week.  Every spare evening was spent towards working with the festival in some sort of way.  Environment for the Americas took on the responsibility of coordinating the education stations during the festival where we coordinated the following tables:

City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks:
The Bird Migration Game and Why Birds Migrate

Mary Powell (Boulder Valley School District, Uni Hill) and America’s Latino Eco Festival Artist, Alfonso Piloto:
Art Station

University of Colorado-Boulder Museum of Natural History
The Power of Pollinators

Environment for the Americas (us!):
Get Banded!
Who am I?-Bird matching game
Turkey Vulture Stomach Acid Experiment
Conservation at Home: How to Conserve Birds Around your Home

I was responsible for the Turkey Vulture Stomach Acid Experiment, and it was really fun!  The CU Museum of Natural History was able to provide us with a mounted Turkey Vulture which was great to have to a life-size mount to show kids.  All the kids, and even parents, really enjoyed learning about the vultures…they are amazing creatures and are a great representation of nature’s ability to have ecosystem workers in a natural way.  Did you know: Turkey Vultures eat dead animals and can smell a rotting carcass miles away!  Their wing span can be up to 6-ft wide and they can live up to 20 years and can be found all throughout the Western Hemisphere.  The point of the experiment was to demonstrate the extremely acidic stomach juices Turkey Vultures have to be able to eat dead and/or diseased carrion without getting sick themselves.  Overall, Turkey Vultures have a stomach acid pH from 0-1 (which is basically as acidic as battery acid!), whereas humans have a stomach acid pH of about 2.  We mixed ground up dried pasta noodles to represent bones, red food dye to be blood, water, and Alka-Seltzer  together and poured it down the Turkey Vulture’s “throat” (a tube attached to a funnel that was inside of a plastic water bottle) to see how it reacted with the “stomach juices” (white vinegar, which as a pH of about 2).  Kids loved to see the Alka-Seltzer react with the vinegar…any gross with kids is always a hit!

This is my last week with Environment for the Americas, so I’ll be highlighting my experience with EFTA in my next blog and in the meanwhile, I will be really busy finishing all the final tasks I need to get done before moving on to my next chapter with CO Parks and Wildlife!

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The week with a good friend!

This week Cara, the intern from Boulder, came down to Alamosa to see what a day in the life of Deisy and Mianna was like. The good thing is she came down during one of our busier weeks. The three of us had the opportunity to go duck banding with an amazing bird biologist. We also had a class from Western College join us in duck banding. We were able learn how the ducks where captured, how to vent a duck, and how to band ducks. During the duck retrieval from the traps in the middle of a pond, I came to the conclusion that I am horrible and balancing myself when I am knee deep in water. I managed to fall four times in the same exact spot. Mianna and Cara simply laughed instead of helping me. What great friends they are, ha:). After a long struggle, Mike came over and helped me finally find my footing. Although walking through water was hard for me, what was even harder that day was venting the ducks. My first try at venting, I got pooped on! I had to walk around the rest of the day with a giant yellow greenish stain on my shirt. We finished off the day by teaching the Western College students how to do macro surveys at the Blanca wetlands. Overall it was an amazing day 🙂 I have such a blast learning new things here. I am going to be sad when I have to go back home to Denver.

The following day, Mianna and I took Cara on a shorebird survey. She was amazed by the large quantities of Wilson’s Phalaropes we had to count that day. There where over 2,000 in one single area! My head was spinning after counting so many birds. After our survey we went home to nap and prepare for our night amphibian survey. As the sun set, we prepared to head out to the field. I was hoping Cara would hear the large multitude of frogs we usually hear out at the wetlands. Unfortunately, the frog were very shy that night. Looks like the amphibian season is over!
I will definitely miss our night surveys, but everything good must come to an end.

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As time unfolds into good-byes

Well here we go! The hectic week I have been anticipating for months now is finally over! I finished my first week of college. YAY ME! I not only realize that I am a full time student, full time EFTA employee, but also an employee at the college student life center. I don’t really know when I truly get to sleep but somehow I manage to get everything done and still have time to plan for the festival and some time for family too.

This week our shorebird surveys ended =( Which is sad but, it means that winter is that much closer. I love winter! It also means that the festival is only two weeks away. YIKES!! I am not sure I am ready, but I am excited to see what the turn out will be. We have all of our ducks in a row and are now just waiting for the day. I also received good news that I will have a job with Jill and Sue again next year which is super exciting because I absolutely love working for them. However, they  have exposed me to sooooo many experiences and opportunities in the science field that I now ponder my choice in being a major for agricultural business.  I must say, out of everything I have encountered in this job the best part has been the experience and memories that have traveled the path with me. There is nothing in this world that can compare to the bonding moments that “Team Bug” has.

Help me count down the weeks until our festival is finally here! This past weekend marks 1 week. WOOOOOHOOOO!!!

Your birds are our birds too, P.II

Let’s recap. Through these posts you have seen that birds are: fun inspiration for games (yay!), way too cute for our good, scientifically interesting, and just ridiculously cool. Did you know, that birds are cultural too?

Woah, I know, it’s crazy. Allow me to explain…

Back in June I was contacted by an elementary school located from a town right outside of Bogotá, Colombia. The request was simple: “Do you know of a school that would like to make contact with us to talk about birds?”

Turns out, there was, in fact, such a school, and that school was right here in Philomath, Oregon. While coming from two completely different schools, countries, and even continents, they had a common connection. What, you might ask? If you can’t get the implication by now, I worry a bit for you, but I’ll help you out: BIRDS! This school in Usme has a neat program where they seek out connections with North American schools based on the shared wildlife. In turn, our Philomath-ian students were participants of the USFWS Shorebird Sister School Program, and have a whole semesters-worth of knowledge about migrating shorebirds. The opportunity was ripe and ready for the picking.

The result: these fantastic videos, prepared by our friends in Usme, Bogotá Colombia and our colleagues in Philomath, Oregon. I hope you enjoy, and take it as a testament to the power of birds to connect people far and wide.

First up: a video from the Eduardo Umaña Mendoza School addressed to Philomath Elementary:

And to follow: the response from Philomath Elementary to the Eduardo Umaña Mendoza School: