Monday, July 23, 2018

#HERper lessons I didn’t want her to learn-#JMIH18

I debated writing this about a week and a half ago, and decided against it. It seemed like the societies had it under control, and everything that should be said had been said. Until today, when a prior Herpetologists league president, Ken Dodd, doubled down, blaming the media, those who dared object on social media, and women who wear shorts, all while insisting that the actual incident was no big deal. He is entitled to his opinion, even when in direct contrast to his society and the leadership of the other associated ones. But so am I,

I first came to JMIH in 2014. The reason was my daughter had gotten a prebaccalaureate grant to attend the conference, and travel costs were minimal since it was in our region. She was in heaven. She got to meet people who she “knew” from books and journal articles, and got to hear about reaearch firsthand. She also discovered, as did I, that the social events were definitely adult focused, not a place for a herp-crazy kid. We spent the evenings with the younger “accompanying persons”, who were enjoying Chattanooga TN while a parent attended the conference.  

And I am also very aware, as a mom with a daughter who loves snakes, that there is a definite “men’s club” in the Herp world. Unfortunately, that spans all areas. I was having to explain off color jokes from her first Repticon at age 5. I have also been in academia long enough to know that greater degrees just means that the off color jokes might have a little more intellectual ring to them. I did not expect JMIH to be immune, or to be a “kiddy pool”. 

We have since attended the JMIH 4x, as well as the SSAR meeting in 2015. We have also attended quite a few regional and state conferences. I’m her silent partner there, and her mostly silent partner on social media accounts that I made so she could both do her outreach and communicate with the Herp world, while hopefully keeping her safe. A vast majority of the people, talks and 1-1 discussions  have been wonderful. This is what makes JMIH part of our family travel, and why I, as a early childhood music teacher by profession and training, have a “professional” membership to SSAR. 

And yes, we have heard Dick Vogt speak, both at JMIH18 and in prior years. As a mom, there have been moments in every single talk of his that something has been said that I hoped she didn’t “get”. Something that makes the audience kind of giggle nervously, and females in the audience glance around uncomfortably. Something that gets left out of live tweeting the talk. All talks tend to involve people in field gear. Which, yes, might include swimwear.  But only in Vogt’s talks do you see women who look like they have touched up their makeup and hair, and then posed with a sea turtle in the style normally seen in car magazines. We have attended talks on courtship behavior with no innuendo, yet Vogt manages to fit it in when talking about communications between turtles before hatching. And while the various mentors and awesome folks who have supported and encouraged my daughter have introduced her to many meritorious Herpetologists, they have, across the board, skipped Vogt. I suspect I know the reason.

So. when the whole kerfuffle started, I handled it by keeping a close eye on twitter and largely keeping my daughter, now a high school/dual college student out of the social situations, because that was the primary topic of conversation. I was gratified to see the immediate response from many awesome people in leadership, and the HL’s quick response at their meeting. 

And I watched my teen girl realize that the positive experience she has had at JMIH is largely due to the awesome people she knows protecting her from more than hearing an off color comment,  but many of those same folks have not been so lucky, which in turn makes her question whether the herpetology world  is for her. Part of her doubts is that she is getting older, and discovering there is a lot out there, but part of it is seeing women she respects talk about moving out of herpetology into other areas because they have found the Herp world uncomfortable. She has already filtered her xollege hunt based on “doing interesting work” and “will talk to the little kid”. She’s now, now that she’s not a little kid who stands out due to size, adding things like “female students seem happy in the lab and recommend it,” and “lab is diverse”. 

As of right now, she wants to go back to JMIH. She feels that the good experiences she has outweigh the negatives. But I have to say, only the fact that I know that a majority of the leadership of ASIH, SSAR, AES, and yes, HL, do NOT agree with Ken Dodd that makes me willing to consider it. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Making Music for Save the Frogs Day!

These are some activities I'm planning for preschool attendees at our Save the Frogs! Day event, which will lead into my preschool music/early learning homeschool class as well. I thought others may want to use some of these as well.

Playlist for most songs. If you have Amazon Prime music, these are songs that are currently included in that plan.


 Save the Frogs music time (demo)
Music concepts:

LwOT Concepts:
Frog Jump Letters-F
Hello Song-

Hello, How are you?
Alfred the Alligator

 (Alfred the puppet brings out a toy frog from the mystery box-the kids identify and talk about the frog, and what sounds it makes)
Frog calls- listen and repeat
Instrument playalong

Guiros-Galump went the little green frog

The frog (move in jumping motions)


 Show pictures of real frogs/toads, discuss
5 Little Speckled frogs
LwOT activity

Frog jump Letters frog jumps- Air write
Movement w/prop

Salamanders and frogs
String quartet No 10 in Eb Scherzo (ribbons/scarves)
Instrument play

Caribbean Amphibian-Shaker play

Over in the Meadow - Here is a version we created based on our most common local frog calls.

Instrument play/Family Jam
7000 kinds of Amphibians (assorted instruments)
Circle/Parachute play

The Axolotl Song
Goodbye song

Goodbye my friends
Materials/Instruments list

  Water bottles, scrapers (popsicle sticks work well), and shaker fill
                    guiro (frog guiro, if you have one)
                    recordings of frog calls or Frogwatch USA stuffed frogs with recorded calls (
                    Assorted instruments
                   Stuffed frogs and salamanders or pictures of real frogs and salamanders
                   Scarves or ribbons
                   Prepared Book: Over in the Meadow
                   Wood or magnetic letter pieces (LWoT)
                   Mystery box or bag
                   Puppet if you use one (I use an alligator named Alfred in all my classes)

For the water bottle guiros, collect recycled water bottles with ridges in advance, one per child. Add some shaker fill (Birdseed is good-that way if any escapes, it goes to good use), and close the lid. Seal with electrical tape or hot glue. You can add eyes and legs to make it more "Frog like" if you wish. Use a scraper to make your "frog guiro" croak, or shake to make other sounds. We will use these in some of the activities.
Home activity suggestions:

F is for frog/Letter assembly activity, fast and slow frog calls.

Monday, July 31, 2017

I am the very model of a modern urban animal-for @NatickBobcat (and a few other tweeps!)

I am the very model of a modern urban animal
I survive in human realms both virtual and actual
My small size lets me creep in spaces that the humans have not found
And my bobbed tail is perfect because it doesn’t hang down on the ground
I’m well content with urban prey, on rabbits, pigeons, rats I thrive
But usually I leave the domestic cats and dogs alive
But squirrels are on the menu, yes, that is very, very true.
So watch out @ratatosk4 because I’m coming just for you!
So watch out @ratatosk4 because I’m coming just for you!
So watch out @ratatosk4 because I’m coming just for you!
So watch out @ratatosk4 because I’m coming just for you!

I’m very good at hunting and at not quite being clearly seen
I’m just living my life, so don’t worry, I’m not that mean
I’m a good neighbor, and I am very practical
I am the very model of a modern urban animal!

If you see me you just might wonder what that big cat is
Just a tabby, something bigger, mountain lion for the win
So snap a pic and send it in and find out just what you’ve got,
On twitter, I suggest #CougarOrNot!
In March I have a job to do that I suggest that you check out
It’s called #2018MMM-and it will really be a rout
In March Mammal Madness, I’m the victor, that we’ve found
Just ignore the Sloth faced bear, cause this year he’s going down
Just ignore the Sloth faced bear, cause this year he’s going down
Just ignore the Sloth faced bear, cause this year he’s going down
Just ignore the Sloth faced bear, cause this year he’s going down

On twitter, I’m so awesome it is shown through and through,
So just ignore old @gilamonsterASU
In short in matters animal, both virtual and actual
I am the very model of a modern urban animal!