Wildlife at Oxy
Blogger: Marlaina Bemis
(Disclaimer: when I say wildlife at Oxy, I mean the birds, butterflies, and lizards on campus, not the crazy sleep deprived and well-caffeinated students on campus).
I’ll admit that I had no idea what I was getting myself into for when I enrolled in Bio 290, Research Methods in Citizen Science. It was a two unit class that caught my eye during the hectic process of class enrollment. When the excitement of signing up for classes died down, I became nervous about this Bio 290 class, especially when I walked in on the first day and I made up 33% of the class (there were 3 of us). There was no room for error and I couldn’t camouflage myself in the middle of the class. Thoughts of “What did I sign up for?!,” or “if I leave now, they will just think I was in the wrong class,” popped into my head. But staying and committing to this class has been one of the most exciting parts of my semester thus far.
This year on campus, a project called BioBlitz is being organized and will occur in April. It is a worldwide project where anyone (scientist or not) can volunteer to work together and document every single organism in a certain area. Bio 290 is the class that is training students to become leaders of this project at Oxy. We have spent the last seven weeks reading studies, talking with different professors, listening to guest speakers, and running around campus taking practice pictures of organisms. We’ve been going full-force trying to document all the organisms on campus in order to complete guides for the BioBlitz participants.
I scared someone once because when I was hidden in a shrub trying to take a picture of a salamander, and I suddenly sprung up and shrieked when I finally got a clear picture of the critter. Another time I was on a run and I abruptly stopped because I saw three acorn woodpeckers all on one tree. I was so excited! But I can tell you that the person running behind me wasn’t as excited when he ran straight into me because I didn’t give him enough time to dodge me.
Needless to say, Bio 290 has taught me so much about what lives on this campus (other than us humans). Before this semester, I would walk straight to class with my head down. Now, it takes me way longer to get to class because I can’t help but to investigate where all the bird noises are coming from and I just have to take a slight detour when I see a hummingbird hovering on my way into the Marketplace. This new found appreciation for animal and plant life on this campus brings excitement to my everyday here, all thanks to a class that I took on a whim.