Wearable Technology (Not So New for Wildlife…)


Wearable technology is on the rise. I’ve read a number of articles discussing the growing importance of wearable tech with predictions such as  Why Wearable Tech Will Be As Big As the Smartphone”  as well as compilation posts that talk about tech advancements and trends in 2013 or 2014.  It amuses me and can’t help but notice how NOT NEW wearable tech is for wildlife.  It’s been a vital way (although rightfully questioned) that we’ve learned about a number of species since the mid 1960’s. By attaching a device that sends signals to a transmitter, we’ve been monitoring the behaviors of hundreds of species and learned a great deal from the research. There are few basic techniques that we employ to track wildlife. This particular post describes VHF radios in a very helpful manner. Perhaps with the advance of wearable technology we can make it less invasive to our wildlife tracking efforts.

A number of years ago, I was involved in a project that went about attaching “wearable tech” to Townsend’s big-eared bats and we used radio telemetry to  monitor their nightly behavior.  Luckily it doesn’t take this much technology to monitor the activity on my Nike sport’s watch, but you get the idea. Pictured below is the sweet set up I had to track activity on my radio transmitter.
So just remember.
Wearable technology is not new for wildlife. And thank goodness it isn’t.

While I know the tech we force wildlife to wear isn’t as complex as the computers we’re strapping to ourselves, you know what I’m talking about. It’s funny.

What Your Social Strategy Can Learn from Wetland Restoration

Jug Bay Wetlands Restoration deals with restoring the presence of wild rice.
At Jug Bay Wetlands they have worked to restore the presence of wild rice. We can learn so much from wetland restoration planning tactics listed below.

As I’m growing as a naturalist, it’s surprising to me how much of the subject matter deals directly with my work as a communicator for the National Wildlife Federation. In my Wetlands Ecosystems class we went over restoration techniques that truly could offer help for those trying to tackle their social media or communications strategy (in ways you wouldn’t expect).

So– next time you’re planning a project of any kind– I highly recommend checking out the below process and substituting the land management terminology with whatever marketing vocabulary you see working here. I think it’s a helpful reminder of how we lay out projects and goals to achieve a greater mission.


1. Planning
A. Evaluation of the trends and needs of the whole system

  1. Status of the resources
  2. Historic conditions, so you can determine the rates of loss
  3. Define the ecological needs and critical functions
  4. Define the human uses/needs, both social and economic

B. Establish restoration priorities for the whole watershed/estuary and develop goals (Include multiple stakeholders)

C. Develop a framework for implementation that all conducting restoration work agree to follow

2. Project Development
A. Set clear goals for the project that link to regional planning
B. Determine the technology or approach that is most appropriate for the goal and the site
C. Design monitoring that allows you to:

  1. Determine progress of goal
  2. Practice adaptive management (allows midproject corrections)
  3. Export lessons learned- both positive and negative
  4. Contribute to the system-wide monitoring

D. Leverage resources to maximize benefits, including coordinating your project with others that are in the area.


It’s amazing how much this document can apply to planning outside of the restoration sphere. I love the emphasis it places on monitoring and adjusting as you go. So much of the success you have when planning social media (or any project for that matter) comes from coordination as well as considering the whole ecosystem.

Playful Post – Wildlife Inspired Insults

five-lined skink
You Five-lined Skink (you’re definitely not as cool as this skink)

The common names we have bestowed on some animals do not do them justice. To start – I’m disappointed by how many of our names for animals are iterative. Take the genius additions of lionfish, dogfish, batfish or even catfish —  by the time we were naming fish were we even trying? And then there are the names that can double as clever insults. In fact, @d_tinker and I used to call one another many of the examples I’ve listed below using #wildlifeinsults as the hashtag. And that is actually what inspired this blog post. The names I’ve included below will not only introduce you to awesome new wildlife you should know more about– but it will also expand your insult vocabulary. These names are only to be used for playful and funny reasons. I don’t encourage insulting people with the names of awesome animals in any real capacity– for fear it will make them dislike animals. Instead– perhaps we’re introducing you to your new spirit animal.

Animal Inspired Insults

Five-lined Skink
Hoary Bat
Snot Otter
African Wild Ass
Cockle (bivalve)
Carpet Shark
Bighead Carp
Stinking Corpse Lily
Slimy Salamander
Hairy Beardtongue
Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Snub-nosed Monkey
Evergreen bagworm
Showy Lady’s Slipper
Bony-eared assfish

I’m collecting more…any ideas? I’ll keep adding them. 
Insult people with classy wildlife names and your IQ will soar. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid While Tweeting





1. Starting a tweet with a reply.

No – “@johnhaydon has compiled a great list of Twitter resources [link] ”
Yes –“Great list of Twitter resources by @johnhaydon [link]!

While it’s always great to mention someone in your tweet- if you do this you will only be updating the people who follow both of you. This was a feature that was meant to reduce tweets in the feed, but it’s one that users overlook all the time.

If you must put a username early on in the tweet many people put a period in front to avoid this.

2. Your tweet is too long.

I don’t need to go into this one- but if you’re inspired to write up a bunch of tweets check the length of your tweet by opening twitter. If people can’t “quote” your tweet- it is probably too long.  If you’re really struggling with tweet length- use this calculator to see how many characters you have.

3. Misusing or overusing hashtags

Using TOO many hashtags is distracting and detracts from the message. Also- don’t do anything that breaks up the hashtag. We recently encountered this when we tried tweeting #hike&seek but the & actually broke up the tag. So remember, keep them simple and limited.

4. Synching accounts but never interacting

I’m all for time-saving tips and ways to be efficient on social media. But if you’re using Twitter as a broadcasting service think again. Twitter is best used for building relationships and learning of new and interesting things. If you’re not conversing on Twitter- I encourage you to do so. I would argue it’s my favorite network because of the types of conversations a tweet can lead to.

As a lover of nature, why not learn about REAL bird tweets?
Tweeting properly is a valuable skill to learn. But so is learning about real tweeting, bird calls. If you’re interested in identifying birds by their tweets, you may like this blog post.  Since birds call for a number of reasons- mating calls, warning calls, territorial, vocalizing location etc- it may be helpful to figure out what kind of twitter user you want to be and where to incorporate listening.

Tips for Finding Nature (among other things) on Instagram

I think that nature photography is a gateway drug to a healthy wildlife watching addiction. With that hypothesis, I’ve been enjoying how many social media sites I frequent daily are now heavily populated with images (cough… Facebook, Google+, & Tumblr). You can’t go anywhere on those sites without bumping into a few words slapped on to a startling picture.

For this reason, I’ve been keeping my eye on Instagram– mostly because this simple site has seen a growth in users and has a healthy number of compelling wildlife and nature photos. It’s a simple concept- upload your photo, add a filter, and share with your friends. I recently read an article that said 40% of brands were also on Instagram.

Now that they’ve added Photo Maps, I’m intrigued by what this means for documenting experiences using Instagram and how this can enrich your experience when you visit the natural world.

I haven’t created a profile for NWF, mostly because we get a lot of user submitted photos but don’t have a steady supply of the wildlife photos that would be most interesting to people. But I do see great examples of Instagram use, and I continue to be curious about the platform.

Web versions of Instagram that let you search:



  1. Statigram
  2. Pinstagram
  3. Extragr.am
  4. instagrid.me
  5. instadashapp

Recommended Searches for Wildlife Lovers
(remember to tag photos with appropriate key words!)

  • #Nature -over 800.000 photos
  • #Wildlife – over 176,000 photos
  • #Naturelovers – over 84,000 photos
  • #Wildlifephotography – over 4,000 photos

There are also awesome fun things to search like #skyporn, #macromonday, and many many more! So if you’re tagging photos with hashtags and you aren’t being descriptive– try and remember to be just that.

Are you using Instagram? Let me know!

Nature App: Identify Clouds and Predict the Weather

I’m no stranger to writing about mobile applications.  I think your mobile phone can serve as equal parts magnify glass and field guide when used properly. There’s something fascinating about discovering, documenting, and sharing an outdoor experience with handheld technology. Now you can even keep your head in the clouds (and know what types they are!)

Last fall, I took a fascinating class through the Audubon Naturalist Society that focused on weather and climate. Needless to say I’ve been preoccupied with meteorology and looking at the sky ever since.  I care a lot more than I ever have about humidity and high and low pressure systems.

For anyone who is a fan of clouds or sky gazing, this application could be an impressive addition to your nature apps collection for just $1.99. I am not one to gush about a product, but I admire the design and the content. It’s not like every other field guide app, it takes you on a visual cloud journey, and I appreciate that.

Do you look at the clouds? What’s your favorite type? I like altocumulus.

Pinning My Interests Instead of Insects


So because of my science background, when I think pinning– I don’t necessarily imagine the site, Pinterest. I think of entomology class when I was instructed to capture, pin and label insects. But alas, pinning doesn’t have to mean clumsily sticking a pin through the mesothorax. I’m now associating it with a vibrant and visual bookmarking service most often recognized as being populated with women collecting sites about weddings, babies, recipes or baby recipes (just kidding…I do not condone baby eating) .

Let’s just say, it’s much easier A Guide To Mounting Insects on Pinsto “pin” things online than the experience I had in college. Not to mention that nonprofits and businesses alike are finding real reasons to start using Pinterest.

So what are you using Pinterest for?

I’m using it for the National Wildlife Federation because I’ve noticed how the interests of people online are becoming more and more visually inclined. You see how well images and pictures do on Facebook, well that translates nicely into Pinterest’s clean interface. Not to mention, in a very short time we saw a large increase in traffic and interaction surrounding our pinly presence.

Art and science are so intertwined. Pinterest is a fun place to explore visual collections while increasing sharing and interaction. Not to mention, thanks to our kids publications, we have a number of adorable wildlife crafts and recipes to share.

I also find it incredibly fun to search Pinterest for NWF mentions:
http://pinterest.com/source/nwf.org/ (adding source between the link gets you there quickly!)

Great Pinterest Resources:

Pinterest: A Tool To Curate Relevant Visual Content for Your Audience
Nonprofits on Pinterest
12 Ways Your Nonprofit Can Use Pinterest
Steal these 42 Creative Pinterest Ideas for Nonprofits

Are you pinning about wildlife, environment, technology or science?
I want to follow you! Let me know!

5 Questions to Answer Before Blogging About Your Cause

Blogging for a cause is challenging and on National Wildlife Federation’s blog, we’re always trying to bring value to the conversation while writing posts people want to read. Anne Cissel, our blog editor, helped put together a great list of questions to ask yourself before you write a post. But even before you answer these questions,   reflect which blogs are your favorite and why. Don’t limit yourself to blogs within your field — look everywhere!

Then answer these questions:

1. What is your goal? Why are you blogging?
(Raise awareness, get petition signatures, etc. The more specific the better.)

2. How will you measure success?
(New visitors, page views, backlinks)

Now … Forget about your goals! Forget what you want readers to do and think only about your target audience.

3. Who is your audience? Activists? Parents? Teachers? Animal lovers? Spend some time researching your audience online. What are their concerns, needs, wants? What do they like to read/share online?

4. What are the concerns, needs, and secret desires of your target audience?

5. What do they like to share online? (Hint: Visit blogs who have already cultivated this audience)

Once you answer these questions, you can then dive into content creation! Here are some tips to get you on your way:

Brainstorm Compelling Content:
Certain formats and topics work best for blogs and make for irresistible content.

  • Lists (5 Ways …)
  • Photo galleries and short compelling videos
  • Curation (Create a useful resource that also creates “friends” in the blogosphere: 6 Best Green Bloggers)
  • Tips (4 Easy Birdhouse Crafts)
  • Surprising personal stories
  • Myth-busters
  • Quizzes, polls

Only after you’ve got an outline for your post  … REVISIT YOUR GOALS FROM QUESTION ONE! How can you weave in your “ask” into the content?

Engage, engage, engage:
A blog should be a two-way conversation. Think about how and where you want your reader to engage. Maybe you just want them to answer a question  in the blog comments or on Facebook. You could even create a blog post from the answers. Let your readers do the work for you!

What other great tips do you have about writing blogs? We want to know!

Nature and Wildlife Google+ Brand Pages

With the addition of Google+ brand pages, I’ve noticed  a number of awesome  environmental, outdoor and wildlife brand pages. I couldn’t resist sharing them.

I decided I would create a useful Nature and Wildlife Circle on Google+  that includes many of the environmental groups you can follow. I’d love to aggregate a number of them, so if you’re on Google+ and I haven’t included you– please let me know by commenting with your page link below.

There are some fantastic blog posts out there that are discussing how nonprofits are using Google+ brand pages as well as how Google+ can improve the experience for brand managers. I think this is an exciting time to be a part of the community! So please join us and let’s bring the wildlife to Google+!.

I’ve insisted that the benefits for being early to a new site are to get a chance to talk to other curious, early-adopters. By joining now, it allows you to take the time to get to know the space and the etiquette that’s expected. It’s been interesting to spend time talking and commenting on Google+ while it’s still pretty empty and the conversations are still very meaningful. So join us now and let’s “hang out”!