January 11, 2012
- Working to Help the Environment
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
Working to Help the Environment
There are many different types of careers in the environmental field. See whether a job protecting the environment might be right for you.
Environmental educators and camp counselors teach people about the outdoors in an outdoor setting. They help people to better understand nature and their role in helping wildlife and the environment. Environmental educators may guide nature center visitors on a walk to look for and learn about wildlife and wildlife habitat. They also visit schools, youth and community groups to talk about nature study and the environment. In addition, they may write materials to help people recognize what they find while exploring outdoors on their own. Camp counselors, whether at an overnight camp or a day camp, teach children outdoor skills while helping them enjoy the outdoors safely.
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
Okay, forget the lions and tigers-at least in New York State. Wildlife biologists and technicians study wild animals and their habitats. Sometimes they work outdoors ("in the field") and track populations of different animal species. Other wildlife biologists study disease in certain species to monitor whether a population is in danger. Still others manage lands owned by the state or help people manage their own lands to benefit wildlife or provide opportunities for people to enjoy wildlife.
There are also biologists that study fish, marine life and habitat. In each of these jobs, you would spend time outside observing nature and improving fish and wildlife populations.
Geology is the study of the Earth and its composition. Engineering geologists study rock cores, soil samples, groundwater and water supplies. They might solve problems associated with floods or landslides or develop safe openings for mining or waste disposal sites. A geological engineer could help design systems to prevent contamination of soil and groundwater.
Into the Woods
Foresters help manage and protect forests and the public use of forest lands. They may assist with reforestation (planting trees in a forest area) and help landowners with forest management. A forester can help develop forest recreation programs and create plans to manage forest pests and diseases.
Stop in the Name of the Law
Environmental conservation officers (ECO) are police officers who enforce the laws protecting the state's natural resources and environment. They investigate complaints about pollution, check hunting and fishing licenses and ensure that boats and ATVs are operated safely. ECOs also protect wetlands and enforce our recycling laws, such as the Bottle Bill. Some ECOs work with K-9 detector dogs to detect illegally killed wildlife. In addition, ECOs meet with school groups, service groups and hunter's and angler's clubs to promote compliance with the law. They work long and irregular hours on outdoor patrols.
Lost and Found
Forest rangers are police officers who help with search-and-rescue missions for people lost or hurt in the wilderness, fight wildfires and educate the public about outdoor fire prevention, conservation of wildlife, safe hiking and wilderness survival. They patrol wilderness areas throughout the state, always watching for fire dangers, and they may be the first to respond to a fire emergency. Like ECOs, forest rangers work long and irregular hours on outdoor patrols.Send us an e-mail and tell us what you think about Outdoor Discovery.
Subscribe to Conservationist magazine-New York's award-winning publication with astonishingly beautiful photography and captivating articles.
Learn the best places to view wildlife at DEC's Watchable Wildlife pages.
Try these activities to get a feel for the work a wildlife biologist or water quality specialist might do.
Just because you don't see animals in your neighborhood doesn't mean they aren't there. Become an animal detective, and look for the clues that animals leave behind. Hike in the woods (kids should be with an adult), or explore your own backyard to see how many different animal signs you can identify:
Deer: Deer tracks are heart-shaped. The pointed end of the track points to where the deer was going. Deer trails are narrow paths which usually connect to where a deer eats and sleeps. Deer beds are flattened areas in meadows or woodland clearings. Another common spot is under an apple tree. You can find buck rubs on areas of a tree about one to two feet off the ground where a buck has rubbed the bark off with its antlers.
Raccoons: Look for overturned garbage and paw prints like tiny human hands to determine whether a raccoon has been stealing a meal. If so, raccoon-proof your garbage can with a strong bungee cord stretched over the top and attached to the handles on each side.
Skunk: While your nose will be able to tell whether a skunk is nearby, so will your eyes with a quick look at your yard. Skunks dig holes in the lawn with their sharp claws in search of grubs and insects.
Squirrels: A pile of pine cones that have been stripped clean is a sure sign that a squirrel has been dining in your yard. Squirrels, mice and chipmunks love to hide in log piles.
Learn more about New York's wildlife on DEC's website.
Testing the Waters
Liquids with water content may be acidic, alkaline or neutral. The level of acidity-or pH-is described on a scale from zero to 14. The pH affects how a liquid will interact with other compounds. Acidic liquids, such as vinegar and lemon juice, have a pH value below 7. Alkaline liquids have pH values above 7. Baking soda and ammonia are alkaline. Very acidic or very alkaline liquids are caustic, which means they cause chemical burning or corrosion.
Purchase some pH test paper at an aquarium store or pet store. Collect a sample of rainwater or melted snow in one container and tap water in another container. Dip a pH paper into each sample to find its pH level. Acidic water will turn the paper red, while alkaline water will turn it blue. Compare the shade or color of the paper with the indicator on the container of pH paper to find the level of acidity. How does tap water differ from rain/snow? How do you think the acidity level of rain/snow affects animal and plant life? Acid rain can harm or kill individual fish, reduce fish population numbers, completely eliminate a fish species from a water body and decrease the number of species.
To find the pH values for some common materials, visit the Miami Museum of Science website. (This link leaves DEC's website)
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Norrie Point Environmental Center
Discover Norrie: Winter Wonders Walk
Saturday, January 14 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Join us on a family-friendly 2.5-mile hike along the scenic banks of the Hudson River.
Five Rivers Environmental Education Center
Watchable Wildlife: Winter Birdlife
Saturday, January 14 at 10:00 AM
Binoculars are helpful but not necessary.
Family Fun: Snowshoe Outing
Saturday, January 14 at 5:30 PM
Parents and children must accompany each other. Call 518-475-0291 by Wednesday, January 11 to register and reserve snowshoes.
Movie Night: Buyer Beware
Friday, January 20 at 7:00 PM
Complimentary popcorn and cider provided. Call 518-475-0291 by Wednesday, January 18 to register.
Family Fun: Asian Year of the Dragon
Saturday, January 21 at 10:00 AM
Parents and children must accompany each other. Call 518-475-0291 by Wednesday, January 18 to register.
Family Fun: Where the Wild Things Are
Saturday, January 21 at 2:00 PM
Parents and children must accompany each other. Dress for outdoor fun. If there is sufficient snow, we will snowshoe. In the event of severe weather, this program may be cancelled. Call 518-475-0291 by Wednesday, January 18 to register.
Albany Pine Bush Preserve Discovery Center (This link leaves DEC's website)
Friday, January 20 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Call 518-456-0655 or go the Albany Pine Bush website to register. Cost: $3.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free.
More events at Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center (This link leaves DEC's website)
Western New York
Registration is required unless otherwise noted.
Thursdays, January 12 and 19 at 4:30 PM
For children in grades K-5. No registration required.
Learn to Snowshoe for Adults
Saturday, January 14 at 10:30 AM
Snowshoe rental = $4.00/person; Friends of Reinstein members = $2.00. For adults only. Call 716-683-5959 to register.
Learn to Ski
Sunday, January 15 at 1:00 PM
Ski rental = $4.00/person; Friends of Reinstein members = $2.00. Call 716-683-5959 to register.
Tuesday, January 17 at 6:00 PM
Snowshoe rental = $4.00/person; Friends of Reinstein members = $2.00. Call 716-683-5959 to register.
Wednesdays, January 18 and 25, February 1 and 8 at 10:00 AM
Participants must commit to the entire series. For children ages 3 to 5. Materials fee = $15.00 per child; $10.00 per child for Friends of Reinstein members. Call 716-683-5959 to register.
Saturday, January 21 at 10:30 AM
For children ages 5 to 8. Materials fee = $2.00 per child; Friends of Reinstein members = $1.00 per child. Call 716-683-5959 to register.