We are delighted to report that the 2023 Wyoming Naturalist Program cohort has begun training!
2023 Cohort Season Schedule
All classes begin at 6 pm, Mountain Time. 6:00 – 6:30 Discussion & homework sharing, 6:30 to 6:40 Small group conversations
Date 6:40-7:45 pm
Feb. 8 Participant introductions, continued
Feb. 15 Nature Journaling - Kathy Lichtendahl, Conservation Storyteller
Feb. 22 Geology - Melissa Connely, Geological Consultant
March 1 Entomology - Scott Schell, UW Extension
March 8 Native Fish and Mussels - Stephen Siddons, Wyoming Game and Fish Department
March 22 Ecology - Dr. Merav Ben-David, UW Dept. of Zoology and Physi-ology
March 29 Birds - Zach Hutchinson, Audubon Rockies
April 5 Invasive plants – Brian Sebade, UW Extension
April 12 Mammals - Rhiannon Jakopak, UW Haub School
April 19 Aquatic Invasive Species - Stephanie Estell, Wyoming Game and Fish Department
April 26 Forestry - Jamie Schmidt, Rosa Forestry Consulting
May 3 Herpetology - Mason Lee, UW Biodiversity Institute
May 10 Botany - Dr. Dorothy Tuthill, UW Biodiversity Institute
May 17 Mycology - Dr. Dorothy Tuthill, UW Biodiversity Institute
May 20-21 In-person field session! Saturday 8 am until Sunday 3 pm
Hi, I’m Chris Schafer. I currently work as an environmental scientist for an energy company. My job involves mitigating the companies’ impact on the resources. We try to be good environmental stew-ards of the land.
Tell us a bit about your journey to conservation, natural resources, and/or the outdoors.
I got to spend a lot of time playing and exploring outside at a young age, along creeks in Montana. I enjoyed catching minnows with my minnow trap, along with snakes, frogs and more. I attribute my in-terest to family members who took me hunting and fishing as well as maybe a lack of close supervision, which I’m very grateful for as it allowed my curiosity and sense of adventure to grow. I got the opportunity to go to college when I was around 25 years old. I got an Associate’s degree in Natural Resource Technology. I eventually received my Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology. This has led to working on numerous wildlife studies. It has been a great adventure and I want to help conserve the natural resources that have brought so much joy to my life.
My favorite class during the naturalist training was the ecology presentation of the river otters by Dr. Merav Ben-David.
What topic would you like to learn more about through the Wyoming Natu-ralist program?
I would like to learn more about climate change and the enormous impacts it’s creating across our globe.
Tell us your favorite Wyoming Naturalist-tied volunteer moment or experience.
My favorite volunteer experience was helping Zach monitor the mist nets for Northern Saw-Whet Owl banding. Even though we didn’t get any owls that night, I love that kind of work.
My favorite spot so far is the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. I spent a lot of time in them working with spotted owls, and they are just amazing, magnificent places.
A Sand Country Almanac, by Aldo Leopold.
I have two dogs that are trained detection dogs with the ability to sniff out bat carcasses! Cato, a lab mix is almost ten years old now, and he is retired. Silas, a Golden retriever mix just turned five. We trained when I worked for an environmental consulting firm to find bats being killed by wind turbines in order to estimate the number of bat fatalities and species being impacted.
I highly recommend the Naturalist course to anyone with an interest in conserving our natural re-sources. As we continue to share our love of those resources with others, we are helping to do our part so that future generations will get to enjoy what we do.
Mark your calendars for some underground adventuring! We’re working with Sinks Canyon SP to tour Boulder Choke cave on March 18th and March 25th.
The tour costs just $5 per person. This experience is not just limited to WNP participants; families are welcome!
Tours are capped at 15 people. Sinks Canyon is working on developing their registration page, which should hopefully be up and running by early March. We’ll send a link on the email listserv when it’s available.
You can find many opportunities on the Volunteer Opportunities page. Remember that in addition to those where you are out and about around the state, submitting articles for the WNP newsletter or StoryMap both count towards volunteer hours.
Wyoming Game and Fish has an exciting volunteer opportunity available. One of their regional biolo-gists needs help monitoring sage grouse lek sites this spring in March and April. He is looking for volun-teers who are able to commit to conducting more than 1 observation survey at a lek site, or visiting multiple lek sites at least once. Follow-up visits to lek sites must be at least 8 days after the previous visit. All of the sites are in Fremont County, some east of Riverton or north of Shoshoni, broadly in the Lysite, WY area.
These sites are not right off of highways—he recommends vehicles that have 4wd and at least some clearance to navigate the two-tracks to get out to these sites because access varies depending on the road’s condition (snow, snowmelt, etc.). ATVs also work. Volunteers will need to have binoculars or a spotting scope, be able to use a GPS/map (WGFD coordinates are in UTMs), and be willing to get up and out to these sites very early in the morning. There is a virtual training on March 9th at 9am that you would need to attend.
If you are interested and are confident that you can commit to the biologists’ requirements, please email Mason Lee, at firstname.lastname@example.org by the 20th of February. I will connect you with the biologist after that. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try my best to answer them!
IMBCR stands for Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions. The program was created to address large-scale declines of avian populations and the need for extensive and rigorous landbird monitoring. Audubon Rockies and Precision Wildlife Consulting would like to invite you to a two-day training on IMBCR bird protocols. This information is used by Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Pro-gram to help Ranchers enrolled in the Audubon ACR certification make management decisions on pri-vate properties in order to benefit focal bird species. This two-day training will be held on May 1st and 2nd and Audubon has offered to pay the registration fees for any WNP participant. When trained, par-ticipants will be able to help with surveys on ranches. For more information, reach out to Zach or Ja-celyn.
Join us for the annual community science weekend extravaganza June 9–11, 2023 at Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site. A BioBlitz is a 24 hour period in which the public team ups with biologists to search for and document as many plants, animals and insects as they can find within a certain location. The Wyoming BioBlitz has taken place in a new location each summer since 2008 to learn about our unique ecosystems throughout the state. In addition to contributing to science, the BioBlitz provides a hands-on opportunity to learn from experts. Participants meet local scientists and learn how they study their subjects. No experience needed, only a willingness to dig in and have fun learning.
For the BioBlitz, you can use the website link: https://rockies.audubon.org/naturalist/wyoming-bioblitz
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. There, pins are given out for both years of service as a Wyoming Naturalist and for hours of service. (see chart on next page)
Other awards include the Wyoming Stewardship Award for exemplary service to Wyoming conservation and the Sagebrush Sheepmoth Award for service service to the Wyoming Naturalist Program. Read more about these awards on the website.