The future is the place where the rivers all sound like washing machines

Image credit: Brad Smith | Flickr

My latest on the Scientific American Guest blog:

Some experiences stick to you even when you try to wash them off. For me, the experience was a field course I taught many years ago in the Dominican Republic. It was a course composed of city-dwelling students from Columbia University. When I met these students, many of whom had never seen an animal larger than a rat in the wild, I felt as though I had entered a foreign realm. I have written elsewhere about the course and the inspiration it offered me, but if I am honest, some days it still wakes me up with a kind of panic.

For these students the forest was as threatening and dangerous as I have sometimes perceived Manhattan to be. I was born in a rural community. I spent my childhood in swamps and woods. I explored. I chased. Along with my sister, I made forts and followed animal trails and caught anything that fled. To this day, I feel most at ease in forests (and perhaps least at ease in the biggest cities) and now I work among a tribe of other adults, biologists one and all, with similar backgrounds. We all spent our childhoods dirty with life; it is a reality that seems normal and was for most of human history. But what I sometimes felt in watching the Columbia students, lost among the trees, unable to name the birds and plants—or even sometimes to tell the birds from the bees—was that, in them, I was seeing the future.

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By |2016-11-22T13:47:39-05:00July 9th, 2012|

About the Author:

Holly Menninger
As Director of Public Science, Holly coordinates our empire of citizen science projects and manages the online science communication here at Your Wild Life. An entomologist by training, she’s a science communicator by passion and practice.

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