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Social Activities

Thu, July 22, 17:00 hrs (UTC±00:00)

How to get started with keeping a nature journal


Jennifer is an ecologist from the United States and has worked extensively in tropical dry forest ecosystems on questions related to carbon and nutrient cycling, restoration, and climate change.  She is a professor at the University of Minnesota and also serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Biotropica, ATBC’s flagship journal. She discovered a long-lasting love of art when she found herself with extra time on her hands when she was living in a field station in the rain forest of Costa Rica. She now balances raising two boys, professional responsibilities, and art.

Delamonica Sampaio

Patricia is a Brazilian Biologist working at the Tropical Conservation and Development Program at the University of Florida. She is also ATBC’s and ATBC Neotropical Chapter treasurer. She has always been passionate about nature and art. She has done ceramics, stamp carving, watercolor and gouache. Through keeping a nature journal, she has found a way to combine both her passions and through the process to exercise being present and finding peace and joy amidst a busy life of higher education admin work, ATBC and being a mom of two busy boys. She hopes to share a bit of what she has learned through this journey and bring a bit more color and fun to your scientific observations.

What is Nature Journaling?
Nature journaling is the practice of drawing or writing in response to nature, to what you observe in nature. This fun, relaxing, and meditative practice helps you to connect more closely with nature or your object of study. It results in the creation of your own unique nature journal. 

Why keeping a nature journal? 
Humans are known to be visual beings; we think in images. The use of Images is an important tool for learning, documenting, and communicating ideas and concepts. Research shows that we tend to retain information better when taking notes by hand and/or doodling   when compared to typing on a computer. Drawing and keeping a sketchbook have been important tools through the history of science, discovery, and exploration. Many of the famous naturalists kept some type of journal with their field notes and drawings or diagrams of what they saw. Interestingly, Darwin was one of a few that did not draw and in his autobiography acknowledged that his “notes were less useful than they could have been if he had made his own illustrations”. However, drawing in science is not about making great art; rather, the focus is on accurately documenting what you see. Moreover, everyone can draw! A common misconception is that the ability to draw is inherited but in fact it can be learned. Recording your observations in a sketchbook enhances the ability to be present and observe, and helps you remember what you saw and experienced. In fact, research shows that drawing (even without any formal training) can enhance visual-thinking skills, creativity and problem-solving, and can improve science-communication efforts 



Workshop objectives 

 Our goal with this introductory workshop is to share our experiences as tropical biologists who love nature journaling. We will introduce another tool for your nature observation kit; one that is fun, rewarding and most of all that will help you to connect with nature and your object of study in a different way. This practice will also help to ground you in the moment and bring you joy. In the practice of nature journaling, there is no right or wrong, only the possibilities. 

•    Any notebook
•    Pencil and eraser
•    Pen or fine liner (i.e. sharpie extra fine) 
•    Colored pencils, markers, or watercolors. If you do not have any of this, even highlighters will work. 


Preliminary Agenda 
•    A little history of explorers’ sketchbooks: the original nature journals
•    Nuts and Bolts: The what, why, and how of nature journaling
•    Practice session  
•    Wrap-up: Want more? Let’s meet again in Cartagena in 2022


Suggested resources 
If you want to get a feeling of what Nature Journaling is, please check these great resources from folks that have been doing this for a while:

Nature Journal Show on YouTube

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