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.

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!

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”!

Great Tools for Creating a Free Petition for Nature

I’ve collected a number of free ways to create a petition and hope that anyone (mom) who reads this blog can put them to good use for protecting the environment and wildlife. As always, I welcome feedback and hope you share your tools and techniques with me!

Change.org: Even from the homepage, Change.org encourages members to create petitions around issues they care about. Not only that, but if done well, the community may even promote your petition. In a few easy steps, you can create and promote your desired “change” to your contacts and other nonprofit organizations on the site and on social media.

What’s required: Change.org account
The Impact: Very easy to maneuver, and change.org has fantastic content as well, so sometimes it’s even possible to link your petition to content that’s available. The community is buzzing with social causes and if you can get your action featured in their newsletter you can see the impact.

Care2: There is so much a user can do on Care2, that you can forgetabout how simple it is to go to the petition site and create a place to collect signatures for the cause or campaign of your choosing. It’s very easy to get distracted, but there are many passionate users and good causes. You can even join like-minded groups and promote your petition that way!

What’s required: Care2 login
The Impact: Similar to Change.org, there’s a very active community that if you’re willing, you can get involved with and illicit their help and expertise.

This site gives you a quick way to create an action campaign on Twitter.Take the person’s username and target your messaging in 140 characters. Then ask your supporters to re-tweet it and that serves as a signature. It takes very little time to set up but can have a huge impact. Especially if the user on the receiving end is an avid Twitter user!

What’s required: Twitter usernames
(both you need one and your target)
The Impact: May not be as impressive as calling your representative, but can be overwhelming to the person managing the Twitter account and can definitely build a movement over an important issue. It also takes no time to set up, which can be a definitely benefit for quick turn around campaigns!

Facebook Causes Petitions:
If you’re an administrator for a nonprofit or advocacy group and you’re looking to increase Facebook engagement as well as ask people to take action, I think experimenting with the petitions on Causes is a good step. In order to get a good idea how to create a petition, check out this helpful video.

What’s Required: Nonprofit Causes partner login.
The Impact: As a nonprofit you can leverage your communities on Causes to help petition on your behalf. The names are displayed in a way so that you can export them and hand them to the person you’re trying to target and can be very effective in spreading the word.

There’s also a FANTASTIC post by SocialBrite that lists a bunch of tools like iPetitions and Petitionspot I didn’t mention here. I highly recommend people check it out. If you’re someone who’s passionate about an issue and you don’t work for a nonprofit, I definitely recommend you use these petitions to get on the radar of people who do (me!).

Surveying Soil and Social Media?

I knew I would find soil fascinating, so I decided to take a night class titled “The Living Soil“.¬† I was also interested in learning about soil so that when the inevitable zombie apocalypse strikes I may be able to plant some food for my dear family and the few remaining survivors. Currently I’m just a serial killer of plants and fail to keep the sturdiest of them alive.

A few weeks ago we had our first soil field trip and I was able to get more hands-on with a stream bed and some soil-y colleagues. We were each instructed to attempt to identify different horizons as well as the texture, color and structure of a small area of soil in Maryland.  It was mucky, interesting, and I felt like I was guessing a lot of the time. But in learning how to survey soil, I was reminded how similar it is to surveying social media and how each site offers different aspects with a unique function.

In soil, you determine physical properties by examining the:

  • Structure: (type, size and grade)
  • Texture: (percentage of sand, silt and clay)
  • Porosity: (air and water space)
  • Color: (hue, value and chroma of the soil)

It’s very easy, because soil scientists and people surveying¬† soil can reference any number of information sites and decide how to address the next step. But what if someone is curious about using social media? There’s no obvious key. People have to swim around in the social space and copy their competitors.

If we had to decide on how to determine the attributes of social media sites that we would need to survey I would say:

  • Structure: Profiles, Groups, Pages
  • Texture: Friendly, Intellectual or Marketing Heavy
  • Intensity: How often must you check it? How much does it take to update it?
  • Design: How user friendly is it?

Keeping in mind that I’ve only had a few moments to think about this,¬† I think sites like Twitter would be the topsoil and sites as built out as Ning would be the bedrock. But maybe I should just get back to studying…

Google Bundles for Nature Lovers

Being an avid news-junkie, loving RSS feeds (RSS = Real Simple Syndication) that make staying up to date on key issues easy and amusing comes with the territory. I love them so much that I sometimes get carried away and I overpopulate my Google Reader. I subscribe to everything from nonprofit technology bloggers to key science feeds that update so frequently I could be checking them every minute and they would still have content for me to read.

I also use Google Reader to monitor NWF’s mentions and it was when Google first launched “Bundles” that I though perhaps this an excellent way for people sharing and trading information through blogs, sites and search terms they follow.

Google Bundles Allow for Easy Feed Sharing

What I found was really interesting! Google bundles are something that anyone with a Reader account can create, and they make sharing information about your organization, cause or focus much more accessible.

Here’s how you create a Google Bundle.

  • Go to your Google Reader Account
  • Click on Browse for Stuff (left-hand navigation)
  • Once you click “create” you are set to start naming your bundle and dragging and dropping the feeds of your choice.

The real reason I’m telling you how to do this? So that you can help me compile a great list of nature blogs! I’ll add my public feeds here and please write your bundles in the comments and I’ll add them to my list.

My Google Bundles:

What are your bundles? Share with us!

(If you don’t believe I really love feeds… here’s presentation from a recent webinar!)

Fantastic Wildlife and Nature iPhone Apps

*Note:  An updated version of this post can be found on Wildlife Promise called 25+ Nature and Wildlife Mobile Apps.

If you managed to wrestle my iPhone away from me, you would see that I collect nature applications, everything from trail-tracking apps to apps that help me identify birds (my weakness).

My goal is to find different ways for people to interact with nature using a mobile phone. Below I’ve written up a few of my favorites. I’d love to hear what apps you are using.

Watching for  Wildlife

WildObs Collection: I use the apps–especially WildObs Mobile and WildObs Lookup–on a regular basis. If you find yourself wanting to record wildlife sightings that include more than birds– it’s definitely my preferred app!

Project Noah – Great application that also allows you to¬†track your wildlife sightings! Definitely worth a download (it’s free!).

Finding Nature

: Love this! (Disclosure–the National Wildlife Federation partners with both Naturefind and WildObs.) Search nature areas and outdoor events near you.

The North Face Trailhead Application is a great (and FREE) application that lets you locate the trails near you. If you like to hike, or simply want to explore or photograph trails, this application can help you do just that.

iBird Explorer Backyard: As an amateur bird explorer, this is a great app that helps you identify bird species and explore them by family, location and more.

Fun with Plants

Florafolio:  This app offers an interactive field guide to native plants of North America. This edition focuses on the stunning variety of trees, shrubs, perennials, ferns, vines, and grasses that are indigenous to Eastern Canada and North Eastern United States. Florafolio is the perfect guide for anyone who wants to identify species in the wild or garden with native plants.

Botany Buddy: As a person looking to identify plants and exploring, I’ve truly found this app enjoyable. This app is useful when I know the name of what I’m looking for. You must have a profile, and it does require some basic understanding of plants. It¬† includes 4,500 full color photos and twenty-five key fields of information on each plant.

I know there are countless I left out and I would LOVE to know your favorite nature apps! Share below and maybe I can review them!

Happy Birthday Beth Kanter!

While I’m busy at the awesome Choose Clean Water Conference I can’t let it slip by that it is Beth Kanter’s Birthday today. Beth has helped countless wildlife organizations spread their messages and learn how to use social media. She’s also a wildlife watcher herself and makes sure to take her kids outside. ūüôā She’s a very important figure in the Nonprofit community and I can’t mention enough how grateful I am that she was born and came into my life!

If you haven’t taken a look at her blog you can find a plethora of tips and strategy insights. She’s definitely one of the brightest minds and network weavers I know. For her birthday she is generously asking people to support¬† The Sharing Foundation, so check out the cause if you get a chance.

Responses to the Get Outside and Explore More Pledge

For the past several months,  NWF has been asking people to pledge to get themselves and their kids outside more.

Part of the fun of my job was to ask parents and activists to take the pledge. Not being entirely certain that the original pledge would work for social media’s sake– I created both one on Facebook and one on Change.org. (We will compile the results from both of those when we’re done). Until then however, I’m simply gathering responses as to why people are even getting outside!

Earlier I had asked people on Twitter What their Biggest Barrier was to getting outside.

Many answers fell under the same basic categories:


Health Reasons


And of course, Weather!

What are your barriers for getting outside?

Sign the Be Out There Pledge!

4 Online Communities A Wildlife Enthusiast Would Love

As a wildlife enthusiast, I get excited at the thought of communicating with others who are passionate about observing and learning about wildlife. Since I’m lucky enough to interact online with people of all walks of life, I do take note of where I interact with some extraordinary people. The following are great communities to check out if you want to find me and others chatting about wildlife! (In no particular order…)

1) Twitter – I am continually impressed by the people I meet on Twitter. If you are a person who is passionate about something, Twitter is an excellent place to find like-minded individuals. If you are interested in finding wildlife watchers on twitter there are several ways I recommend–just by searching #wildlife, #nwf or #birding you will find new people to follow. Check out wefollow.com or twellow.com and search those who include wildlife or a specific species in their profile.

2) Wild ObsIf you’re looking to log your wildlife sightings then there are several great places for that, but if you are savvy with a phone or want to communicate their exact location–WildObs is an excellent place to go.

While many of the users are also active on Twitter the community and the photos shared on WildObs are freaking fun to check out and I feel like I can spend hours surfing through all the sightings. Definitely worth a try if you find yourself wishing to share the watching experience with others! Follow @WildObs

3) Wiser Earth – Aside from being a great look into the world’s conservation efforts, Wiser Earth is a community that helps bridge divides and provide meaningful resources for making the world a sustainable place. The community is full of passion and there are great wildlife resources posted throughout the site. Take a look and add a link to your favorite resource while you are at it! Follow @WiserEarth


4) Birdpost While this site does cater very specifically toward birds I couldn’t leave it out. I am really impressed with the depth this site offers while giving bird watchers flexibility and a pleasing design to organize their life-lists and track their sightings. If you consider yourself a birder and you like technology you should definitely check out this site. It’s so fun to play with!¬† Follow @birdpost.


Would love to hear what other sites are out there…