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YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel

Environmental Fiction Middle School

Birmingham Endangered Species Mural

As we set out to find the artists working on the watercress darter mural the sun shone down on the city of Birmingham, Alabama rinsed clean by torrential rains the day before. Cruising along 2nd Avenue South, we soon spotted the artists transforming a grey cinderblock wall in to a vibrant mural. Curious to find out more about the project, we parked the car and introduced ourselves.
Watercress Darter Mural Aritsts
Local artists Creighton Tynes and Merrily Challis at work on the mural (photo. Boris Datnow)

The Birmingham mural features the watercress darter, a small, brilliantly colored, endangered fish found only in five spring-fed creeks located in the Black Warrior River system flowing through the Birmingham metropolitan area. This endangered species was almost wiped off the planet  when a city maintenance crew removed a beaver dam, which drained the spring pool, killing thousands of watercress darters. Fortunately, conservation organizations are working to protect this unique species. Birmingham was selected by the as the site of darter mural because Alabama is a world hotspot for freshwater animal diversity, and the Center is working to protect hundreds of Alabama species from extinction.
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Butterfly Awareness Botanical Gardens


Butterfly Education and Awareness Day

Monarch Butterfly (Poster created by Ellie Usadan)
Kids Enjoyed Coloring the Poster Created by Ellie Usdan

We were delighted to join the
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, on a perfect summer day, to celebrate Butterfly Education and Awareness Day, and also to share the newest book in the eco mystery series for middle grades, The Adventures of The Sizzling Six: Monarch Mysteries (book 6 in the series).
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Alabama Biodiversity in our Hands

EEAA Annual Conference Alabama’s Biodiversity: It’s in our Hands!

The theme selected for the 2015 EEAA Annual Conference, Alabama's Biodiversity: It's in Our Hands, could not be more stimulating and relevant. The presentations and field trips at the conference highlight our state’s amazing biodiversity.
Scot Duncan, author of Southern Wonder, will be the key note speaker. In addition, pre-conference, day-long workshops provide an overflowing cornucopia of resources for teachers, thanks to Shirley Farrell, Gifted Specialist, Alabama Department of Education. Read More...

Advantages of Enhanced Electronic Books

How You Can Benefit from Enhanced Electronic Books
Imagine zooming far above the Atlantic Ocean, reading a fascinating book about the exploration of the ocean, when, magically, the author is sitting next to you, telling you what inspired him to write the book! This is no futuristic fantasy, it’s exactly what I experienced when reading Atlantic, an Enhanced eBook by Simon Winchester. Watching and listening to the video was an Aha moment for me! It brought home the power of Enhanced eBooks and inspired me to begin creating my own. To get a clear view of this new development let’s look at where we are right now. Read More...

Audubon Mountain Workshop

36th Annual Audubon Mountain Workshop

As we speed north from Birmingham how delightful it was to watch the spring flowing, like a sparkling green wave, into the mountains and up to Camp Alpine where we would be joining fellow nature conservationist for the Audubon Mountain Workshop.
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Earth Day Picnic

Picnic for the Planet Alabama Nature Conservancy

What a pleasure to be a part of Picnic for the Planet, 2013! On a perfect spring day, we gathered together with kids of all ages for a picnic celebrating Earth Day.  Sponsored by The Alabama Nature Conservancy at Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham, picnickers basked in the sunshine, played on the lawns, danced to live music, and enjoyed presentations about the excellent projects of the Nature Conservancy. Read More...

Wildflowers Art Education

Art on ‘R Mountain

What a perfect spring day for the Ruffner Mountain art show. The budding trees and bright wildflowers melded together beautifully with the colorful arts and crafts.  Read More...

Environmental Education Association of Alabama

Oh, what a pleasure and a privilege to participate in the Environmental Education Association of Alabama’s Conference at Little River Canyon Center, and Little River Canyon National Preserve this weekend! Meeting with field biologists and teachers dedicated to conservation and to educating the public to become wise stewards of our precious natural resources was indeed a joy. Read More...

Writing Eco Mysteries 10

Eco-Brains Students Help Biologists with Bird Banding

My adventure in writing the eco mystery, The Return of The Red-cockaded Clan, continues at Gwin Elementary School with Traci Knight Ingleright’s “Eco-Brains” fifth graders. You see, in each eco mystery the protagonists help protect an endangered or threatened species. To do this they must solve a complex eco mystery and then take action to save that species. The “bird bag project” the Eco Brains are working on is the missing “action ingredient” I need.
I first heard about the project from Helena Umber Wamble, Education Director of the Birmingham Audubon Society. As a result, I spent a fascinating morning with Mrs. Ingleright’s fifth graders, observing them working on this special project. Read More...

Alabama Book Festival

Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 21, 2012
I wanted to share the good news that I have been chosen to participate in the seventh annual Alabama Book Festival in historic downtown Montgomery at Old Alabama Town Read More...