Friday, June 1, 2012

& the planet asks: What has bb done for me, lately?

The following navel gazing is shared
so I can process my thoughts,
get some of yours,
and later, perhaps, define a goal, formulate a plan.

Some kinda new project.
To be documented here. Maybe. =)

I am interested in your thoughts,
and your experiences,
while I wend my way through this,
so please don't be shy about commenting.

PART ONE (of, say, 3? 4?)

So, backing up: I've been pondering.

It is said that I am a conservation biologist.

My (shockingly tiny, esp. given mental, physical, & $$ cost)
M.S. "diploma" says I am a conservation biologist.

My Society for Conservation Biology membership says I am a conservation biologist
(tho' this can be bought, so is weak support).

I worked for the NPS for 13 years trying to aid and abet
the health and welfare of U.S. native ecosystems,
pretty good evidence for conservation biology actually getting done.

bb checking % cloud cover during rocky intertidal monitoring for the NPS,
or flouting her duties and ogling brown pelicans.

Presently I work (on call) for an environmental consulting firm,
wherein I attempt to help inform clients what may be at a site
(natural features, species, or habitats w/ legal protection)
and how they can avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate impacts to same.
And help co-workers, in whatever way, to do the same.
I think this counts as conservation biology, as well.

Pacific gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer)
 happily climbing snake-charmer co-worker
during transport out of harm's way.

We actually save animals from being mashed.
That, in my view, is good.

However, when I'm not working,
am I still actually conserving the planet's resources?

Am I still a conservation biologist?

Someone who is a hair stylist can cut hair at any time.
Even if they have not cut hair lately, they can still call themselves that,
as they have the skill set. This I believe.

But, how meaningful is a conservation biologist title,
if one has the skills, but is not, on a regular basis, applying them?
I sort of feel that it might need a higher standard.

If I am not improving the planet, or promoting
or facilitating cons. bio. in some way,
does it count?

Perhaps I morph back into a conservation biologist "by training,"
or "biologist," or "ecologist," or some such.

Wonderful toad shot by Walter Siegmund.

I don't think waxing poetic about how much I enjoyed seeing
the California toad* in my garden this week counts.
Even if I do blog, tweet, or name-your-social-media about it.

Of course, I reduce, reuse, recycle as much as I can stand,
fending off consumer-zombie impulses.
My wardrobe is fraying dangerously close to hobo-chic.

And that's all part of my cons. bio. ethic, and very important to me,
but it's not doing conservation biology.
It's conserving resources, but that's not quite the same thing.

I mean actually moving native ecosystems closer to healthy and whole.

So, the question is: Have I? Lately?
And the answer is: No.
Not really.

I do have some ideas re: how to remedy this.
That's later.

In the interim, though, I would like to know what do you think
(all 2 of you who are still reading).

  • To what degree does one need to continually earn one's title, to be worthy of one's own self-description?
  • Do you have a job or hobbyist title you feel you have earned, or continue to earn?
  • Do you get to keep the title if you aren't active in whatever it is?
  • If so, do you have a vague feeling re: how long you get to keep it until it sort of expires?
  • Or, is it more important not to do the opposite of what that title implies (like a consv. biologist killing rare species, destroying habitat, and eating the planet willy-nilly)?

This is leading to something, I promise.



(*Anaxyrus boreas halophilus; formerly western toad, Bufo boreas halophilus; thank you!)


  1. Education and experience are TOOLS to living. If you are outside observing and learning any day, you will use that info on another day and that is con bio. At this point in yr life with all your knowledge and ability to think deeply about biological relationships, you breathe and you are conbio.

  2. Ps: experiencing snake luv

  3. I'm afraid I'm not qualified to even answer this question. I don't work with nature as part of my job.

    However, I would like to think that I live and breathe nature, so I view anyone who does actually work with nature (and who in my experience will also live and breathe it) as inspirational and part of a larger network of caring, sharing people who are hell bent on securing a better future for the planet and all the life on it.

    By enthusing others through your blog, you are contributing to the future well-being of nature. OK, it may not be direct action, but it counts.

    Actually, you've just had an effect right now. Your blog has made me consider the direction of my own life. Thanks, bb, and I hope you find your answers.

  4. What they said! Plus, if (let's say) you're in a theater, there's a very specific kind of emergency, and someone yells "Is there a conservation biologist in the house?"--you're going to raise your hand, are you not? Or in more concrete terms, if you know how to do the job, you identify with it and enjoy it, and someone even pays you for it, even on call, then that's what you are.

  5. Sooo, I will start by stating that I am not a Fan at all of Titles. As an example.. I do not believe in god... when asked if I am religious I simply say no.. I am not an athiest an agnostic or any other title. I also do not believe in Dragons and do not feel I need a title to describe this.

    I consider myself a photographer outside of my day job, as you, in the field of conservation. I have not however activley pursued photography for many years. Am I still a "photographer"? I suppose in the active sense I am not, however the photos on my wall, on others walls, in magazines, etc. are evidence that I was once photographing the world around me. I know the inspiration will return to me someday to return to the active world of photography. So the title is actually irrelevant.

    You are what you do... in the now, in the past, in the future... Titles are often inadequate descriptors used to somehow describe You to other people, use them how you wish to best do this, or not...


Cool people write inside rectangles....