Eight Tips to Make a Fishing Line Cleanup Event Successful.

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Hey, Im Griff. This is the accompanying blog to the the Griff’s Wild Tips video, titled Save Wildlife, Pick up Fishing Line. In each episode of Griff’s Wild Tips, I will show you something that you can do to help wildlife and their habitats (aka homes). In this episode, I explain the dangers posed to wildlife by littered fishing line and show you what you can do about it. It’s simple. Whenever you see discarded fishing line pick it up, cut it up, and pack it out. But one person cannot do it all alone, that’s why I encourage you to organize a fishing line cleanup event. It could be a with your family, a group of friends, or you could go big and organize a volunteer event and invite people from your community.

Several years ago, my California Conservation Corps (CCC) crew and I found a western grebe entangled in fishing line on the shore of Lake Mendocino. The line had already dug deeply into the bird’s flesh and caused life-threatening damage. We had to help it. The closest wildlife rehabilitation center was almost two-hours drive away, so we called a few local vets until we found one who would take it. Since then, I take CCC members to the same spot where we found the bird and we pick up discarded fishing line.

In this Griff’s Wild Tips episode, I’m going give you some 8 pointers to help you successfully implement a fishing line cleanup effort with a small group of friends, or a large group of volunteers.

Remember that if you organize any cleanup event, try to make it fun as possible. The more fun, the more likely that people will return to do it again. There are a lot of ways to make a fishing line cleanup fun. Before, after, or during the cleanup you can take a swim break, dance break, or fishing break. You can use your iNaturalist ap to document what organisms you discover in the area. You can have a rock skipping contest. You can play a game of ninja pose, or you can even teach everyone how to do the nature-celebrating BioBlitz Dance!

Just get out there and do it! Discarded fishing line kills and we need to pick it up! And the more we pick up, the less suffering wildlife will have to endure. Here’s some other things you should consider while conducting a fishing line cleanup event with a group of people.

  1. First off have a safety meeting. Below are some safety considerations and links to more information. Keep in mind that each site and group will have its own safety challenges, considerations, and strategies.
  • Identify anyone who cannot swim and assign them to a territory not directly near deep water.
  • Take ten minutes or so to teach the reach, wade, throw, row method of saving a drowning victim.
  • Remind folks to wear leather gloves due to rusty hooks. Recommend that they also have an updated tetanus shot before participating.
  • Bring at least one throw rope and demonstrate its proper use.

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  • Make sure everyone practices the buddy system and stays in their team’s designated territory.
  • Identify the nearest hospital to the group. And take note of whether or not you have reception in the case that you have to call 911.
  • If you are at a public park, you may want to let the managing agency know what you’re doing. They may be able to provide trash bags and safety support.
  • Consider inviting a life guard to your event if necessary.
  1. Depending on your group, the cleanup may be more fun if you made it competitive by splitting up the volunteers into teams. This will also have the added benefit of motivating folks to stay on task and be more productive.
  2.  Before the teams start, share some grim pictures of wildlife entanglements. Remind them of how important this task is. Thank them for being compassionate enough to help. April Washington 2 (2)
  3. Identify each team’s territory, let them know the allotted time for the cleanup and say, “Go!”
  4. Get permission to photograph and video a few participants picking up the line, interview some of the volunteers, and post the pics and videos to social media with the hashtag #GriffsWildTips and #PickUpFishingLine
  5. At the end of the event, gather up the teams and thank them for their participation and remind them that what they did prevented a lot of suffering.
  6. Have them pile their line in front of their group and appoint a judge to decide who gathered the most.
  7. While they are waiting to hear who the winning team is, let them know where the closest wildlife care center in case they ever find an entangled or hooked animal. Remind them that the care centers rely on volunteers and donations, so anything they can contribute to their local wildlife care center would be greatly appreciated. For an online directory of wildlife care centers, click here.

If you pick up fishing line on your own, with friends, your family, or a group of volunteers, please take photos, upload them to social media and tag me by using the hashtag #GriffsWildTips

Subscribe to my channel to see more Griff’s Wild Tips and the occasional dance video. And please share Griff’s Wild Tips videos often. Did you see the last one titled, How to Make Seed Bombs? It’s going to take a lot more of us who care about our finned, furred, feathered, and scaled neighbors to take actions (big and small) to save their habitat (homes).

Katelyn Rose Garcia

 

Your BioBlitz Dance Invitation

Greetings from John Griffith, creator of the BioBlitz Dance.  This is your official invitation to be a part of the BioBlitz Dance Movement! The BioBlitz Dance is a celebration of the outdoors, diversity within the conservation movement, and the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service. There have been over 60 BioBlitz Dance videos from various groups posted on YouTube and/or Facebook.  The number is expected to grow exponentially by this summer.

The BioBlitz Dance was created after my California Conservation Corps (CCC) crew and I were invited by Outdoor Afro’s founder and CEO, Rue Mapp, to participate in National Geographic’s 2014 BioBlitz Event at the Golden Gate National Parks. We made the first BioBlitz Dance video for the event and were amazed that it received over 30,000 views. The dance has spread quickly with BioBlitz Dances coming from all corners of the USA, New Zealand, Kenya, Nigeria, and Romania. To learn more about the dance’s history, please check out the link “BioBlitz Dance’s Creation Story” below.

 

The BioBlitz Dance has some guidelines that you should learn about before checking out the tutorial video:

  • The BioBlitz Dance must be done outdoors. You are welcome to practice it indoors, but when you are ready to record it, it must happen outside.
  • Upload the video of your BioBlitz Dance to YouTube and include the words, “BioBlitz Dance” somewhere in your title. Example: Malheur Refuge Liberation BioBlitz Dance.
  • More than ever we need a unifying message and celebration of public lands. That’s why we strongly encourage everyone to stick with the original three core moves of the BioBlitz Dance. Again, you must include the three core moves, or it’s not the BioBlitz Dance. The moves: Black Bear, Turkey Vulture, and Ground Squirrel can be renamed to reflect animals in your park if you’re interested in using the dance as an interpretive tool. However, please do not change the moves. The moves are what identify it as the BioBlitz Dance and connect all of us who celebrate the outdoors, diversity within the conservation movement, and public lands no matter where we are.
  • The fourth move of the BioBlitz Dance is designated as a freestyle, where each individual dancer can bust their signature moves. In addition, this is also an opportunity for your group to create your own unique fourth move. For example, Shepherdstown Elementary School created a ‘Brook Trout Dance’ as their fourth move to reflect an animal they had studied recently. Your fourth BioBlitz Dance move could be another popular dance like the Twist, the Quan, or the Nae Nae like the group Keeping It Wild did to great effect.  (see link below).

If you are in California and would like to take some BioBlitz Dance lessons, my corps members and I will be doing two BioBlitz Dance Workshops this year (with more in the works but yet to be scheduled). The first is at The BLM Youth Summit on Feb 19th on the Sacramento University campus. The second is at the National Association of Interpretation Conference on the Humboldt State University campus on April 3rd.

Please share this with anyone who may be interested. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Don’t miss the links below.

Thanks for being a person who is interested in celebrating the outdoors with a dance!

Kind regards:

John Griffith

BioBlitz Dance 2016 Update: 

National Geographic blog on the BioBlitz Dance: 

BioBlitz Dance tutorial:

BioBlitz Dance Creation Story: 

BioBlitz Dance Playlist: 

Two examples of great fourth moves:

Shepherdstown Elementary School’s BioBlitz Dance:

Keeping It Wild: 

John Griffith’s YouTube Channel: 

BLM Youth Summit: 

NAI Region 9 Workshop: 

 

School Sucked… Mostly

If you had asked the eighteen-year-old me if I were planning to go to college, the answer would have been a resounding “hell no.” I had dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade and only received my GED a couple years later because a program that I was in (California Conservation Corps) forced me into that process. School was like church to me: a place where you were forced to sit down, hold still, stay awake, and shut up. There were only a few instances where either place struck me as an institution that inspired learning. To me, they were more like punishments, or some form of negative phenomena meant to keep us from being happy and free. But at the time, I also suspected that I was almost alone in this perspective. I wondered if I hated school because I wasn’t smart enough to keep up with everyone else. I adopted the outlook of, “There’s no point in trying, I will never get it.” But since it was so boring, it didn’t even bother me that everything seemed to be going over my head.  I hated it. School was a bully. I decided that I would never like anything that tried to control me and keep me from playing outside.

The adults in my life, excluding my mother, quickly gave up encouraging me academically. They seemed happy to accept my barely average grades and to celebrate my athletic skills. The goal was always for me to get c’s, so that I could continue in school sports. In high school, I can’t recall anyone ever telling me that I needed to understand my classwork. But they let me pick which numbers were on my jersey.

Years previous, in early primary school, teachers wanted to hold me back because I was hyperactive. Those were observant teaches. After all, my few memories of kindergarten to second grade are of chasing or being chased by other kids, singing, painting, throwing dodge balls, and dancing. My brain didn’t even record the academic aspects like learning to add, subtract, and read, which came to me later than it did for my classmates.

Had I been born a decade or so later, I’m sure I would have been diagnosed ADD and medicated. In spite of the teachers’ recommendations to hold me back, my mom would never let them.  She’d point out that I was already the biggest kid in class. Another year held behind, and she figured I’d have a real stigma as the big, dumb guy.

My parents decided to put me into a private Christian school for third, fourth, and fifth grades where “spare the rod and spoil the child” was practiced. I guess they bought into the popular belief that some fear would inspire genius. As you can imagine, most of my time there sucked. To this day, when I recall my third and fourth grade teachers, I have to concentrate on not being angry and forgiving them. They were being what they were taught to be. Those teachers planted the seed to educational resistance in me. I was swatted publicly for day dreaming, restlessness, finding humor in between the mundane, and wanting to go outside. I can’t remember those teachers ever smiling at me. I was scared of them. I did what they asked and no more, fearing a wood paddle if I failed to comply. I never wanted to go to school.

I hate to think what may have happened were it not for my fifth-grade teacher. Nothing about Mr. Robinson was boring or oppressive. It was apparent that he loved to teach. He recognized my hyperactivity and often brought me to the front of the class and incorporated me into the lessons. The participatory role helped me realized that I could learn just as quickly as anyone else when the education was presented in a more entertaining way. I saw my highest grades ever in fifth grade. I never got swatted in his class. No one did. Learning became exploration. Reading and tree climbing suddenly seemed to be in similar categories rather than on two different planets. I loved school. But after that year, I never met another Mr. Robinson until college. My grades and interest fell back to previous levels.

Because of a life-long interest in nature, by the time I was a twenty-year-old United States Forest Service fisheries/fire crew seasonal, I was already a more accomplished naturalist than many of the biologists that I worked with. And I wanted a fulltime career like theirs. As far as I was concerned, I was already qualified. But no… I quickly learned that I was required to have an applicable degree to be hired as a fulltime wildlife biologist.  Begrudgingly, I became a college student. My first several semesters were struggles. There were parties to attend and bongo drums inviting me to dance. And since I was a drop out, I had to start at the academic bottom to catch up with my peers.  Even after five semesters, I was still considered “almost a sophomore.”

If the professors were passionate, and the subjects were interesting, I’d get A’s or B’s in those classes. If not, I’d get C’s or worse. Eventually a professor who recognized my independence and challenges suggested that I create my own Bachelor’s in Science. This prospect excited me. It was quite the process to do, but by the time it was all approved, I graduated with a degree that was a combination of plant science, Latin American Studies, International Studies, and range science. It was titled, International Crop Production, Latin America.  And it was unique to me. For the first time since fifth grade, I felt like a participant in my own education.

It took me almost ten years to get my Bachelor’s degree. In that decade, I matured into loving education, seeking it out, and encouraging others to guide their own. I learned that it could have been this way all along. Some of us need more than just education: we need edu-tainment. We need the fundamentals of human learning sang into us, played into us, painted into us, and danced into us. We need to be inspired and equipped to explore it for ourselves. We need it to be applicable to the real world. Education should always be perceived as the essential and engaging ally, not the oppressive killer of fun. Awe not fear should inspire learning. This is the wisdom that I gained through my schooling.  I want to be the humane educator who inspires others to become solutionaries. I want to be the people’s Mr. Robinson.