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Follow author: Claire Datnow
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YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel

Environmental Education and Literature

Environmental Fiction Middle Grades: Field Research

As an author and conservationist it was my honor and pleasure to share A Behind the Scenes Glimpse, into how I create science-based environmental Eco Mysteries. Nature lovers, writers, conservationists and adventurers attending my presentation, vicariously enjoyed my field trips to diverse natural habits, and got to meet the dedicated conservationist who are saving Alabama’s endangered species.

Habitat Red-cockeded Woodpecker

Our adventure began with a trip to Sehoy Plantation, deep in the heart of a longleaf pine plantation. There we observed Eric Spadgenske with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Mark Bailey, a conservation biologist banding Endangered red-cockaded Woodpeckers.

Environmetal Literature Ken Will

Next, we explored the streams and rivers, the habitat of freshwater mussels (order
Unionida), one of the most critically imperiled freshwater animals in the world. Alabama rivers host some ninety-seven federally-listed species, including the richest mollusk and crayfish species assemblages in the world. Many once wide-ranging species are now restricted to single or very few occurrences.Through the ‘magic’ of videos, we observed Dr. Paul Johnson and his team of biologist save an endangered species of mussel from extinction. These juvenile mussels raised at the Aquatic Biodiversity Center outside Marion, Alabama, were placed in Bear creek where they are thriving.

Diamondback Terrapin Conservation

From there, we traveled to the Mobile-Tensaw Delta to observe the Diamondback Terrapins (
Malaclemys terrapin), listed as a species of Highest Conservation Concern. Research Biologists Ken Marion and Thane Wibbles capture breeding females in the summer, to raise them in a hatchery at UAB. It was thrilling to witness the release of juvenile terrapins back into their home in the Delta.
For the grand finale, we explored the habitat and migration routes of the monarch butterfly on their long journey from North America to winter over in Mexico. Participants were encourage to contribute their sightings to the Alabama Butterfly Atlas.


Janet Ort, Award-winning science teacher at Hoover High School, and her students presented their innovative environmental projects. You can explore the trail at the school at:

IEnvrionmental Education Hoover High School

Ken Wills author of
Exploring Wild Alabama and President of Moss Rock Preserve has traveled the entire state as a natural resource planner and biologist for the Alabama Environmental Council. Ken Wills outlined his successful conservation projects to clear invasive species at Moss Rock and Limestone Park, and replace them with native wildflowers and grasses.
Vitaly Charny, lepidopterist, photographer and co-author of
Butterflies of Alabama talked about his field trips over a twenty year period to document Alabama’s butterflies. This project resulted in The Alabama Butterfly Atlas.

Alabama Butterfly Atlas

As an author of upper elementary and middle grade eco mystery series it is my mission to inspire people, especially the next generation of decision makers, to become wise stewards of our precious natural heritage.

Comments about my presentation.

Albert and I both loved every minute of the entire presentation, both your narration and Boris’s videos!  Plus it was inspiring hearing from the Janet and her students, and also Ken and Vitaly.  I kept thinking that only in Alabama could such a terrific program take place free in the local library. Donna

Excellent and informative presentations. Those research trips looked educational and fun to run. Listening to you, it's always like visiting a good library. Carl 

I enjoyed it very much. I am so appreciative of the work you and others do to save our beautiful and diverse environment. Marianne.

Special thanks to: Sponsoring Organization—Alabama Writers Cooperative
And to:
Environmental Education Association of Alabama
American Association of University Women
Alabama Audubon Society

Follow author: Claire Datnow
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