You can’t understand what climate change is doing until you study the biodiversity in your own backyard. Understanding our natural world has always been important to me. The variety of life on Earth is incredible in the various forms of plants, insects, individual species and ecosystems that all play a vital role in the biodiversity we share with them. I worked closely with Tom Mangelsen for almost 20 years and helped him with his different causes to save our natural world and I felt at times we made huge progress and other times it felt like no one listened.
I have always been an activist but mostly isolated. I try to do what I can in my small area that I live in. My wife (Jacqui) is the real force behind saving our planet. A true champion of every plant, animal and living organism on the planet. She started the first Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots program in our city of Omaha, Nebraska and helped empower and educate the youth about sustainability and saving our natural world. Jane Goodall even came to talk to our group of youth and gave her humble advice and inspiration. Jacqui taught them about recycling, picking up trash, composting, helping in the community, planting native plants and wildflowers. She also taught them about the garden and why growing your own organic food with no chemicals is so important. She has a natural mycelial connection with nature and the youth. I have learned so much from the master vegan gardener. In our backyard we grow most of our organic fruits and vegetables that serve as most of our home food source.
As we work together, I have found that we are making a difference. Our neighbors are starting to plant pollinators asking about composting and our soil. They are starting to use rain barrels to capture water like we do. I figure it might just be a small pebble in a pond that starts a ripple or a frequency that communicates to other humans who want to help. You have to throw the pebble to start the reaction to action. Education is key for understanding and efficacy.
As I have said at times, I felt like no one is listening. So, I affect change where I can, I help and advocate in my area. I have always felt that you start from the bottom up, with a total understanding of your own ecosystem, entomology and taxonomy. You can’t understand what climate change is doing until you study the biodiversity in your own backyard. You can’t begin to comprehend or know the efficacy of any kind of conservation effort without knowing what you’re protecting. For me it started as a young boy with my love for catching bumble bees. I would catch them and study their patterns and let them go. I used a small net and a mason jar with holes poked in the top so I wouldn’t harm these amazing insects. Later on, I moved into studying bees and butterflies. I have followed the Monarch migration intensely for the past 5 years. Watching and photographing them from egg, larva, chrysalis to butterfly. I have areas of my yard dedicated to milkweed and a wide variety of native wildflowers that the pollinators love. As I have gotten older, I have become fully aware of my surroundings and making sure that the biodiversity in my area contains the natural areas that are unkept. I have dead stumps, rocks logs, sticks, and native plants that the bees, beetles, ants and other species can burrow under in or behind. Rocks that warm insects in the spring and the summer and the birds to hide behind as they hunt for their young. Plant the right plants on highway rights of ways, farms, schools, home gardens, corporate landscapes and on public spaces. Pollinators are not phased by city life, as long as there are plots and patches of flowers they will be visited by hungry bees. Pollinator gardening near community gardens also increases urban agricultural yields.
HERE ARE PHOTOS I TOOK OF THE POLLINATORS IN MY BACKYARD…
So you ask what can you do in your own backyard?
- PLANT FOR POLLINATORS
- ELIMINATE THE IMPACT OF PESTICIDES
- REACH OUT TO OTHERS – INFORM AND INSPIRE
- SUPPORT LOCAL BEES AND BEEKEEPERS
- CONSERVE ALL OF OUR RESOURCES; USE LESS AND REDUCE YOUR IMPACT
- SUPPORT THE WORK OF GROUPS PROMOTING SCIENCE BASED, PRACTICAL EFFORTS FOR POLLINATOR