It brings in a LOT of trail and park visitors, especially ones who ONLY walk a trail once a year to see the ‘show’.
As such, I think that as amateur naturalists we should maybe try to look at the autumn leaf spectacle as an opportunity for making more people see beyond the pretty colors or class project leaf collections, and give them a reason for thinking (and acting?) further.
Has anyone seen any ideas, events, programs in place out there that actually do this? Have YOU any ideas that you think might be worth sharing?
My favourite October colored leaf iNat observation? Okay, for the discussion, it’s a geographic cheat, but it would make a great fun poster shot for a public educational event:
On my Cape May birding trip last spring, I heard one of the guides saying, “I despise leafers. They don’t even like nature.” By “leafers,” I surmised that they meant people who travel specifically to see autumn foliage. What was not clear to me was why people doing this would be considered not to like nature. I think you explained it, though: “ones who ONLY walk a trail once a year to see the ‘show’.”
I’m always amazed at the fluidity of our language.
Especially around political constraint. ‘Despise’ has somehow now become the more acceptable euphemism for plain old ‘hate’. (I saw a lawn sign recently: “We hate haters here”.)
I think that there’s a despicable group for just about any enthusiast group. Go to a ‘birding hotspot’ when there’s a real rare accidental spotted. It ain’t always as pretty and peaceful as many would imagine.
But I think that as a group, iNatters need to work harder at converting any despise for non-naturalists into motivation for creating more nature-loving supporters. We need to connect them to the connections we’ve discovered.
Do the once-a-year naturalists deserve a chance to grow into something more committed and supportive?
If so, wouldn’t it make more sense to try and think of ways to help them find ways to do that while they’re out there on the trails?
I think something like an Autumn Nature Challenge would be fun (but a lot more work than you might think). Tell me more about your thoughts on how you envision this work being operationalized?
ETA: I do see this type of outreach being a better fit for SEEK than iNat.