Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Love, Love 'Lab Girl' by Hope Jahren

Buy 'Lab Girl'
‘Lab Girl,’ by Hope Jahren, Vintage, paperback-2017, 282 pages.     One might imagine that no one really needs an autobiography from a bipolar plant geobiologist: one would be mistaken. Hope Jahren’s memoir begins in her father’s lab and continues with a stoic walk in small town Minnesota. As her foot hits the icy pavement, a world appears. With each step, the town, a loving yet emotionally stifled family, Scandinavian paradigms, her past, and the portent of the future appear in multidimensional authenticity. The world she builds is tangible, funny, and troublesome. She writes about fallen leaves: “These brave trees lay all their earthly treasures on the soil, where moth and rust doth immediately corrupt. They know better than all the saints and martyrs put together exactly how to store next year’s treasure in Heaven, where the heart shall be also.” She shares difficult details about dysfunctional head-banging, rejection, snotty crying, and failures that lead to breakthroughs. She writes of poverty, family, love, victory, and plants. Her stories of plant wonders always do double duty as metaphors for humanity.   Read the full review at the JackWalkerPress blog :Dispatches from AL.   And remember that kids need nature too.  Explore the fun of the Tootalot series from Jack Walker Press. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Row your way to better health and enjoy the journey

Buy from $2.99
Health Benefits of Rowing
Find an exercise you like and you are likely to improve your quality of life as well as your lifespan. If you love rowing, you are lucky because rowing tends to be high in benefits and low in joint impact and injuries. The benefits are so significant that this is a sport you should try if you have access to equipment and a place to row. Using a rowing machine (ergometer) is becoming a hot new sport. Some say the rowing is the new spinning—but rowing is even better and provides a more balanced full-body workout. If you love the water and nature, gliding across a lake or river or even calm ocean waters can be both calming and motivating. Once the technique of rowing becomes habit, the movements can build power and strength to your cardiovascular system and muscle groups.
 Get rid of extra fat
Rowing is predominately an aerobic sport. According to fitness trainer Aamir Becic, most rowers can easily burn up to 600 calories an hour, while competitive rowers expend almost twice the number of calories on a 2,000-meter course as a runner in a 3,000-meter steeplechase. Rowing can promote a healthy balance of fat to muscle in disciplined rowers.
Tone everywhere
Rowing, when done correctly, works the back, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, biceps, and core. It utilizes more body parts than most cardiovascular gym equipment. People of many different fitness levels can approach the sport. Rowing just might be the most efficient exercise ever. “With each stroke, pretty much every part of the body is used,” says Stella Lucia Volpe, an exercise physiologist and professor of nutrition sciences at Drexel University in Philadelphia and an avid rower. And it may let you skip crunches—for good. “A big part of rowing is core strength,” she adds. “People think it’s all arms, but rowing is much more legs and core.”
As quadriceps become stronger, activities and exercises such as walking, jogging, lunges and squats can be done more efficiently.
More health benefits are explained in Single Scull Rowing for Beginners. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

World Wildlife Fund and Walmart join forces.

While Walmart doesn't srping to mind when considering conservation, they are a  company that is so big, that their efforts may have big effect.  World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), and the Walmart Foundation today announced a research program to maximize crop utilization and edible food recovery. With two grants from FFAR and the Walmart Foundation totaling $1.3 million, WWF will work with research teams across the country including University of California, Davis and the Global Cold Chain Alliance to identify practical opportunities for producers to increase the proportion of crops that are harvested and delivered to the highest value destinations.
Of the estimated 63 million tons of food lost or wasted annually in the U.S., more than 80% is lost or wasted in consumer-facing businesses and in homes. While it’s estimated that less food is lost on farms, the lack of data quantifying this loss in different crops makes it difficult to validate estimates, identify drivers and define cost-effective solutions. Over the next 22 months, research teams aim to bridge those data gaps and test interventions to maximize crop utilization and profitability on farms.
 “Our nation’s producers work hard every harvest to provide food, fuel, and fiber to our economy, but they don’t always see the same return on investment,” said Sally Rockey, Ph.D., FFAR Executive Director. “This on-farm research will uncover opportunities for growers to do more with the same resources. I look forward to practical results that will bolster bottom lines for farmers and deliver more nutritious food to dinner tables.” 
As part of the first phase of the program, researchers at University of California, Davis (UC Davis) are working with farmers to gather their input on strategies and opportunities for maximizing crop harvest and use. Their research is focusing on leafy greens, peaches, and tomatoes. UC Davis will also quantify the environmental impacts from seed to harvest for each of these crops. A team led by the Global Cold Chain Alliance will collect qualitative and quantitative data and organize field studies to estimate on-farm and postharvest losses, and identify the current destinations of produce that never makes it to someone’s dinner plate or another end use. Initial research will focus on the harvesting of potatoes in Idaho and Eastern Oregon, tomatoes in Florida, romaine lettuce in Arizona, and peaches in New Jersey.
“The best way to feed people without putting more stress on our environment is to increase the availability of food that has already been produced,” said Jason Clay, WWF’s senior vice president of markets and food. “Each bite that doesn’t reach consumers represents a loss of the natural resources—and money—used to produce it. We’re grateful to the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and Walmart Foundation for supporting research that can help promote more efficient use of land, water, energy, and natural resources, and deliver more crops to the highest value destinations.”
Researchers will use well-established systems—such as the Community System Assessment Methodology, Life Cycle Assessment, and World Resource Institute’s Food Loss and Waste Standard—to ensure consistent reporting across different in-field and supply chain measurement methods, and to facilitate collaborative research and interventions. The project aims to collaborate with other farm-level research projects and pilots within the food rescue community.
“We’re proud to support this research to find ways to deliver more crops from field to plate,” said Eileen Hyde, director for Walmart Giving. “This program aligns with the Walmart Foundation’s philanthropic work to address gaps in the food system upstream to prevent food waste.”
WWF is one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, working in 100 countries for over half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit to learn more and keep up with the latest conservation news by following @WWFNews on Twitter.
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization established by bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges.  FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.
--Published on this site by Amy Lou Jenkins

Friday, June 23, 2017

Duck Stamps: Get your Duck Stamps

The new Federal and Junior Duck Stamps go on sale today.  -- a day that some hunters, birders, conservationists and stamp collectors look forward to every year. Born in the dust bowl days, the Duck Stamp was created in 1934 to protect wetlands that are vital to the survival of migratory waterfowl.  Since that first stamp, sales have raised more than $950 million to help clean water, enhance outdoor recreation opportunities and more.

According to the Department of the Interior: "These stamps are part of the waterfowl hunting license requirements and every hunter over the age of 16 must purchase and carry with them a Duck Stamp each year in order to hunt ducks, geese and other waterfowl. But they are also collectible works of art and the easiest way for anyone to support bird habitat conservation with 98 percent of the proceeds going to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund."

J.N. (Ding) Darling sketched our first duck stamp, and now artists compete to win the art contest. The Duck Stamp program is part of a system that works to preserve waterfowl while allowing for some regulated hunting.  

Monday, June 5, 2017

Easy action for good: Skip the straw

Marine debris is a massive problem in our ocean. So big, it can feel overwhelming (trust me, I know!). But the good news is that you and I can help stem the tide of trash entering our ocean, by making simple changes in our day-to-day lives.
One of the easiest ways to combat plastic pollution? Skip the straw.
At last year’s International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers picked up hundreds of thousands of straws and stirrers, making straws one of the top ten items found—sadly this is true year after year. Straws are eaten by sea turtles and seabirds, and have even been discovered stuck in the nares (nostrils) of turtles.
Take action to help the ocean today. Text “straw” to 91990 and pledge to Skip the Straw next time you go out to eat!
Together 25,000 people can save 5 million plastic straws from entering the ocean and filling the landfills in just one year.
Straws are one of the most easily preventable pieces of marine trash. Next time you’re at a restaurant, just ask the server to “Skip the Straw”, and encourage your friends to do the same! And if you really can’t enjoy your drink without it, try one of the many reusable or biodegradable straws out there.
It couldn’t be easier! Text “straw” to 91990 to take the pledge.
Marine debris may be an overwhelming problem, but together we can make a BIG difference.
Pledge to Skip the Straw today and text “straw” to 91990! The ocean, and the animals who rely on it, will thank you.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Whimsical wool sower wasp

Pink polka dots and wasps were not an iconic pairing in my mind, but springs walks never fail to deliver awesomeness. My  sister and I discovered these polka dot balls on an April walk in a oak pine forest. We had no idea we were admiring wasp handiwork. If a duck quacks, a flower blazes, or a bud emerges—I’m likely to stop and appreciate.  Butterflies, dragonflies, and caterpillars halt me, but wasps and flies tend not to engage me. Like many women, I don’t love bugs. My sister and I have been known to run-away, and we love our husbands more when they “save us” from spiders and six and eight-legged home invaders. 
Walnut-sized, Dr. Seuss inspired pink polka dot balls on white oaks do make me stop in wonder.  My sister and I hovered over them. We prodded them with a stick and walked away scratching our heads. Had we dissected one, we would have found what looked like little seeds, but were in actuality small larvae of the Wool sower wasp (Callirhytis seminator).
These parasitic wasps have co-evolved with the oak so that when the wasps lay their eggs on the deciduous tree in the winter, the eggs and trees respond to spring together. When the eggs hatch, the grub’s secretions stimulate the plant to develop gall tissue. The gall protects and feeds the developing larvae and we get polka dot balls on oak trees.
My prejudice against insects has perhaps diminished (but stay out of my house–and don’t take up residence in my sister’s house either.) a bit.  John Muir said that whatever we expect from a nature “we always get more.” I’m finding that this maxim even holds true for insects.    The wool sower wasp doesn’t sting, which is true of most wasps. 
Take children outdoors and buy them books about nature. Consider this one

Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone: The Legend of Lake Isa (The Tootalots) (Volume 2) Paperback

Why does the water of Isa Lake drain in two different directions? Follow Howie Tootalot to the wild land we now call Yellowstone as he and his new bear friend explore the wild geysers, waterfalls, lakes, rivers and more. Danger surrounds them, yet lessons from the wild and the wilderness itself will save them. Learn the Tootalot family legend. Children may download and assemble their own free puppets—just like the ones in the story. Great fun for reading and play at home or in the car. Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone is the second in The Tootalots series. Award-winning parenting author, dons a pen name and introduces Howie Tootalot in this fun legend that offers giggles and some important ways to deal with respecting the danger and wildness of natural wonders such as Yellowstone National Park.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Call for submissions

 I recently returned to our Arkansas cottage after a quick road trip to see Manatees in Florida. On a dark, cold Jan. morning I walked to Manatee Springs from our campsite to find four manatees in shallow water. They were warming themselves in the relative warmth of the springs. Baby hugged mom. Mom nudged her calf to the surface every 5-10 minutes. Two other manatees seemed to be positioned to protect the duo. In the morning light I could see their massive curvy bodies and they loved and breathed. I watched for a hour, and the rhythm of their respiration calmed my nervous head and heart. That was their lesson to me: love and breathe. Those actions are not passive.
We have all processed many feelings in the last few months. Ready to write? Jack Walker Press themed anthologies are ready to partner with you and respected organizations to deliver artful personal essays and do the important work of art.
Our first collection will explore the theme of transitions. The essay need only be loosely connected to the theme in whatever way you see the connections. We will partner with the University of Wisconsin Madison and assemble and promote this collection during the Write By the Lake class in June. Learn more at…/…/sessions-speakers.html You do not need to take the Madison class to submit to the anthology. Submit by June, 15, 2017--the earlier the better!
Our second anthology will explore the theme of exclusion and the other. This theme seems even more pertinent to today's political climate than when we selected it last summer. The essays don't have to be political. Marian Fredal and other activists and writers have agreed to participate in the editorial selections for this collection. Profits will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center or a similar charity. Submit by Dec. 31, 2017,
Submit through Green Submissions; you will need to register there first (free).
On a personal note, I am seeking reviewers for the first two volumes of a children's book series. If you have kids or love kids literature (picture book for early readers--seven or eight and under--let me know via email if you would like a review copies and will post honest reviews on Amazon.
Thanks for reading, and don't you have some writing to do? Let's get our voices out there!
With love and admiration in anticipation of your thoughtful work,
Amy Lou
Amy Lou Jenkins
Award-winning author Every Natural Fact

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Monarch butterflies decline to historic low

 Overwintering monarch butterflies in Mexico have declined by 27%.  These historic lows may be related to declining habitat and increases in erratic weather.
 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released the following statement from Omar Vidal, CEO of WWF in Mexico:
"The monarch migration is a phenomenon like no other. But now, it’s imperiled by forces the monarchs themselves cannot control. The reduction in the area of forest they occupied this year - most probably due to the high mortality caused by storms and cold weather last year - is a clear reminder for the three countries that they must step up actions to protect breeding, feeding and migratory habitat."
"We cannot control the climate, but we can do much better in eradicating illegal logging in the reserve and tackling habitat loss in the U.S. and Canada. But, even if Mexico's overwintering sites never lose another tree, without food and habitat along the migration routes the forests will soon bid farewell to their final orange and black-winged tenant."
Consumers can help butterflies by taking care to use wood and wood products from known sustainable sources, protect natural habitats, and to plant milkweed.  Many kinds of milkweed are well suited to home landscaping.  Gardeners should take care to avoid insecticides.   Gardeners who plant native milkweeds and then use insecticides kill monarchs. 

Beef and butterflies

Photo courtesy of Environmental Defense Fund Austin-area ranchers  and conservationists show beef and butterflies  can thrive...