Two young professionals, Marjie Lodwick and Malarie Morgan, commuted down from Leavenworth all fall to participate in the Wenatchee Naturalist course. Both were able to immediately apply class materials to their own pursuits.
Marjie is the Visitor Services Ranger at the USFWS Leavenworth Fish Hatchery and offers guided snowshoe walks to school groups. She shared this reflection after an outing last week with students from the Upper Valley Christian School.
So often when we are in nature we focus our attention on what we can see. One thing that I gained from the Wenatchee Naturalist class was a deeper appreciation for using ALL of my senses. The taste of crisp snowy air, the smell of deep earthy lichen and fresh citrus needles, the sound of the wind flowing through the trees from the top of the ridge down to the bottom of the valley, and the feel of a smooth river stone or a light flake of ponderosa bark. I’ve incorporated this sensory appreciation into my work as well.
At the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery I lead students on winter snowshoe tours, and it’s fun to get them to describe the natural world around them using senses other than sight. The students close their eyes and I place something (a cone, needles, lichen, snow, etc.) in their hands. They can feel, smell, listen too, and (in some cases) taste their wildlife object, and then they choose three adjectives to describe it.
The goal isn’t to identify a mystery specimen, but to stretch their observation muscles and deepen their outdoor experience. Then they go collect their own object and play the same game with a partner.
It’s great to hear the words that the students come up with, and the game always leads to more questions about that piece of wild life – Is it alive? Can you eat it? What is it called? How old is it?
Malerie Morgan’s interest in native medicinal plants of the Northwest began while she was working with pollinators under Dr. Bob Gillespie during her studies at Wenatchee Valley College.
Malerie has spent the past five years self-studying plant medicine, attending various courses and online workshops, and recently joined the Washington Native Plant society. Her slide presentation featured three plants that she collected and prepared into a plant medicine. I have a new appreciation for black cottonwood buds after sampling her hand lotion salve with its sweet smell that reminded me of standing in a riverside forest. View her slideshow: .M Morgan Herbal Use of Native Plants.