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Happy Earth Day!

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  For many of us, when we think of Earth Day it involves getting together with a group of like minded individuals and celebrating not only the life giving beauty of our planet, but also the ways in which we can protect and nurture our environment for generations to come.  Don’t let COVID-19 put a damper on your celebrations, instead here are some creative ways you can celebrate Earth and nature today…and every day.

Be Inspired by Great Nature Writers

Nature writing can transport us to new place, inform us of the world around us and open our eyes to the magic and beauty right in front of us.  Here are some ebooks currently available through the UCF Libraries to get you started.

The Essential Naturalist edited by Michael H. Graham, Joan Parker and Paul K. Dayton.

“The Essential Naturalist offers … a wide-ranging, eclectic collection of writings from more than eight centuries of observations of the natural world, from Leeuwenhoek to E. O. Wilson, from von Humboldt to Rachel Carson. Featuring commentaries by practicing scientists that offer personal accounts of the importance of the long tradition of natural history writing to their current research, the volume serves simultaneously as an overview of the field’s long history and as an inspirational starting point for new explorations, for trained scientists and amateur enthusiasts alike.”

Readings in Wood by John Leland

“Award-winning nature writer John Leland offers a collection of twenty-seven short, poetic essays that marry science and the humanities as the author seeks meaning in trees. Readings in Wood is an investigation of trees and forests and also of wood as a material that people have found essential in the creation of society and culture. Leland views with wit and erudition the natural world and the curious place of human beings as saviors and destroyers of this world.

Readings in Wood is a hybrid testament of science, faith, superstition, and disbelief learned from sitting on tree trunks and peering at leaves and fungi. Leland hopes others will join him in nature’s classroom.”

Where’s the Moon?: A Memoir of the Space Coast and the Florida Dream by Ann McCutchan

“In this coming-of-age memoir, McCutchan, a writer and musician, returns to Florida to reconcile with the life she had there [growing up]. Reconnecting with old friends and long-forgotten places, she confronts the transformation of wetland real estate she knew as a child into south Florida suburbs and the booming Space Coast… She … comes to a deeper understanding of the meaning of the cultural shifts she experienced in the sixties, and achieves a new appreciation of the history and aspirations of the two people who meant the most to her.”

The Great Clod: Notes and Memoirs on Nature and History in East Asia by Gary Snyder

“Over the course of his singular career, the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet, essayist, environmental activist, and Beat icon Gary Snyder has derived wisdom and inspiration from his study of Eastern philosophies, cultures, and art. Now, with this collection of eight essays, Snyder offers “a deceptively small book enfolding a lifetime’s worth of study” (Kirkus Reviews). The Great Clod is the culmination of a project that Snyder began in 1969 with the essay ‘Summer in Hokkaido,’first published in Coevolution Quarterly. In it and the subsequent entries… Snyder weaves together elements of travel memoir and poetic insight with scholarly meditations on civilization’s relationship to the environment.”

At Home in Nature: A Life of Unknown Mountains and Deep Wilderness by Rob Wood

“The compelling story of one family’s life among the rugged landscapes of British Columbia’s Coast Mountains, converting youthful ideals, raw land and a passion for the outdoors into a practical off-grid homestead.

Settling on Maurelle Island, he and his wife built an off-the-grid homestead and focused on alternative communities and developing a small house-design practice specializing in organic and wholesome building techniques. At Home in Nature is a gentle and philosophical memoir that focuses on living a life deeply rooted in the natural world, where citizens are connected to the planet and individuals work together to help, enhance and make the world a better …place.”

Want to explore more?  Check out the titles related to nature available from Ebsco Ebooks

Learn New Outdoor Skills

Expanding your skills is a sure-fire way to appreciate nature more deeply.  Want to know why the mocking bird in your neighborhood sings so many different tunes..including imitating your car alarm?  How about knowing what to look for to find water out in nature?  Want to be able to identify the plants and animals you encounter? There are a wealth of authoritative educational opportunities available online that you can use to build skills.  Here are some of our favorites:

Cornell Ornithology Lab Open Lectures

Here you will find free lectures given by world renowned experts in the field of ornithology.  This site also links to free learning games and instructional videos as well as the Lab’s online course offerings (for a fee).

Great Courses through Kanopy

  • Fundamentals of Sustainable Living “Become a more thoughtful consumer, save money, and reduce your ecological footprint with this course that teaches you how integrate sustainable practices into your everyday life. By learning specific knowledge and techniques on how to work more efficiently with the energy, water, and food you consume, you can live a more balanced and sustainable lifestyle that also positively impacts the world around you.”
  • The Science of Gardening “When scientists examine home gardens and landscapes, one fact stands out: The leading cause of landscape failure is not disease and it’s not pests – it’s our own gardening practices. Create a beautiful and sustainable home garden guided by the newest information from applied plant physiology, biology, soils science, climatology, hydrology, chemistry, and ecology.”
  • Plant Science: An Introduction to Botany“If you look around right now, chances are you’ll see a plant. It could be a succulent in a pot on your desk, grasses or shrubs just outside your door, or trees in a park across the way. Proximity to plants tends to make us happy, even if we don’t notice, offering unique pleasures and satisfactions. Open your eyes to the phenomenal and exciting world of botany!”
  • Our Night Sky “For thousands of years, the star-filled sky has been a source of wonder, discovery, and entertainment. All you need to feel at home in its limitless expanse is Our Night Sky, a richly illustrated 12-episode course that gives you an unrivaled tour around the sky–all while teaching you about the science, technology, and pure pleasure of stargazing.”

Add to the Scientific Study of Nature

Want to conduct some research?  Right now?  Even in your own backyard?  Join a citizen science initiative!  There are hundreds of projects actively seeking data from interested observers just like you.  Check out the projects listed on these resources and find one that’s right for you!

Don’t worry if you don’t have a background in science, there are projects available at all skill levels!

Virtually Explore Our World

Want to walk the Kalahari? Climb to the top of a mountain? How about swim at the bottom of the sea?  UCF Libraries has hours of streaming video to inspire your love of nature!

BBC Landmark Collection

Check out some of the best nature documentaries of the last decade with this collection from Alexander Street Press.  Titles include Planet Earth I & II, Spy in the Wild, Big Cats and so much more.

The Swamp

Explore the history of the Everglades and the unintended consequences of man’s quest to control it.

Forces of Nature

This four-part series from PBS delves into the powers and motivators which influence our natural world.  Find out answers to such questions as “Why is water blue? How can a shape defy gravity? Why do bees make hexagonal honeycombs? And how do these things affect our own lives?”

Commit to One New Sustainable Practice

It can feel overwhelming trying to figure out the best way you can limit your negative impact on our planet, but don’t worry, it is not an all or nothing proposition.  Even small changes in your actions can have lasting impact.  I challenge each of us to commit to making one change in honor of the 50th Anniversary this Earth Day. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Choose one item you use regularly that comes in single use plastic and switch to more sustainable option.  Bonus: choose a zero-waste option.
  2. Reduce energy consumption by raising the temperature on your thermostat. You can start small with one degree and transition over time.
  3. Commit to only drinking from reusable bottles or cups for one week.
  4. Eat plant-based meals one day a week, or three meals throughout the week.
  5. Switch one cleaning product you use to an environmentally friendly option.

Want more information?  Check out our Naturally UCF Guide and our Anthropocene Reading List

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