Mark your calendar for the WNP annual meeting, September 23 & 24! We are planning a weekend of service, learning, fun and celebration—including, but not limited to, owl banding, river cleanup, WNP training and service recognition, and a visit to the Speas Fish Hatchery. All this based from the Isaak Walton League Lodge in Casper, Saturday morning through Sunday morning. Watch for more infor-mation as the weekend approaches.
Hello to my Naturalist friends! I am Eric Reish from Casper, Wyoming. I was born in Texas but meandered north to Wyoming at a very young age. My world consisted of central Wyoming until I went off to Idaho State University in Pocatello. After graduation, I journeyed back to Wyoming and took my first grownup job in Midwest, teaching Math and Science to mostly junior high students. After spending three years there, I moved back to Casper and taught Math in a junior high for 26 years. I am now the Program Director (a fancy way to say teacher on the mountain) at Casper Mountain Science Program.
I was lucky enough to stumble upon the information about the Naturalist Program early on and joined the first cohort in 2021.
From a very young age, my family would go out exploring, hiking, fishing, hunting, and playing. Growing up with an active family led me to an ingrained love of the outdoors. As a teacher, I was able to switch jobs each summer for two or three months a year. The most fun I had on a summer job was doing fieldwork for an ar-cheology company. Over those ten summers, I got paid to walk around and look closely at all things natural as well as manmade. I was able to see more of Wyoming than I ever would have been able to without that job.
After 29 years in the classroom, I was very excited to find the Casper Mountain Science job was open. I was blessed to be hired and have enjoyed every second of my job. I get to explore the outdoors on top of Casper Mountain in all manners with our district students of all ages. This winter has been a bit challenging, but we have had students outside on snowshoes all semester.
This is a tough question to answer. I enjoyed every class, from the beginning to the end. I also feel that inter-action with such great people is just as important to me as the content of the classes. But if I had to pick a spe-cific class, it would be Geology. So many of the best things about Wyoming are dictated by geology.
It would have to be geology. I would like more background information and knowledge to be able to read the “history story” of the varied landscapes when I am out and about in the state. We live in such a diverse state, from far below the ground to the top of Gannett Peak. There are so many levels of knowledge to learn.
My favorite experience was volunteering at the Natural Trap Cave on the west side of the Bighorn Mountains. Even though I couldn’t rappel into the cave, (I was there after they finished all the required safety training,) I was super excited to water-screen samples, and actually pull a jaw bone from an extinct fox out of the muck. The fact that people could identify this in mere seconds was mind-blowing.
A close second is helping Zach Hutchinson with banding and collecting data on the Northern saw-whet owl, which happens to be the cutest thing flying.
Pretty much anywhere in Wyoming that does not have a paved parking lot. But if I had to get specific, it would be the Granite Mountains and the ranges that rim the area (Rattlesnake, Ferris, Green, Pedro, and Shirley.) There is a little bit of everything “Wyoming” there, including the best sunsets on Earth.
My favorite naturalist book is Childhood and Nature by David Sobel. It will take you back to your youth.
I am mostly focused on “filling the gap,” so I eat anything easy. If I am going to be close to a cooler, before I leave home I make pizza slop, enchilada slop, or lasagna slop. It is my own recipe, multiple layers of ingredients cooked in the crockpot. I then spoon it into serving-size bags and freeze it. Then when I am out in the field I can boil the bag-o-slop, and eat it right out of the bag.
I built my own log cabin in the Pedro Mountains with logs from the East Fork of the Wind River out of Dubois.
I would like to thank all of the organizers, instructors, supporters, etc. of the program. This experience has been a great addition to my life!
Naturalists Angela Leone and Jaci Harkink went on the Boulder Choke Cave tour at Sinks Canyon, which they learned about through the naturalist program. They wanted to inspire others for next year with a few photos!!
Reminder - May 2nd-3rd is the IMBCR training in Gillette. This 2-day training will give you the skills to monitor birds and vegetation for a variety of projects. Let Jacelyn know if you are interested!
May 13th from 10am-noon at Sink's Canyon State Park Audubon is co-hosting a World Bird Migration Festival. If you'd like to help with an activity (for youth and their adults) please reach out to Jacelyn or Zach.
June 9th-11th is the Wyoming BioBlitz at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site. Birds, plants and more! Registration opens Aprill 22nd. If you are interested in volunteering your time to help let Jacelyn know.
Bird Banding season runs May 31st-August 8th. Want to volunteer? Contact Zach for Casper dates and Jacelyn for the Keyhole State Park banding dates.
July 21st-24th Participate in the Statewide BioBlitz anywhere in Wyoming!
We appreciate the dedication of Wyoming Naturalists to steward the state's natural resources through conservation education and service. As you may know certification and service milestones are recog-nized each year at the Annual Meeting.
In addition to pins, the Wyoming Naturalists Program recognizes exceptional service with two awards:
Wyoming Stewardship Award - for exemplary service to Wyoming conservation
This award recognizes a Wyoming Naturalist whose volunteer service has had a real impact on conser-vation in Wyoming, above and beyond the requirements of the Wyoming Naturalist Program.
The awardee will have provided service that has accomplished one or more of the following:
• Made a significant difference in improving the quality of the environment in Wyoming.
• Demonstrated a long-term commitment to conservation service.
• Provided information to educate the public about the environment.
• Contributed to protection of the environment for future generations.
• Demonstrated coalition-building skill to maximize involvement by others.
• Served as a role model.
Wyoming Naturalists are invited to nominate themselves or a colleague by submitting a letter of nom-ination to Wyoming-Naturalists@uwyo.edu The letter should include a complete and concise descrip-tion of the nominee's activities as they relate to the above criteria. Nominations are due by August 15.
Sagebrush Sheepmoth Award - for service to the Wyoming Naturalist Program
This award recognizes the exceptional work of a Wyoming Naturalist in support of the Wyoming Natu-ralist Program. The WNP relies on the efforts of members to maintain, improve and expand the pro-gram across our beautiful state. Wyoming Naturalists are invited to nominate themselves or a col-league by submitting a letter of nomination to Wyoming-Naturalists@uwyo.edu The letter should in-clude a complete and concise description of the nominee's activities that have resulted in improve-ment or expansion of the WNP. Nominations are due by August 15.