Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Success!



This is the final installment of a three part series, which details the efforts to retrieve a radio-collared wolf that died in the fall of 2010.  The first four attempts were covered in the most recent blog posts.


On Foot
At some point this story has to end, right?  After our attempts in February, to find wolf 989 we had decided to let the wolf stay where it was.  But then March came to the Ely area, and with it spectacular weather and melting snow.

I decided to give it one more try. On Saturday, March 26, I set out with two friends on a spectacular day.  Brilliant blue skies, warm sun and no snow on the lakes made for fast going.  The winter had been cold and long, and although the temperatures on this day would reach the mid-30’s, there was still nearly three feet of ice on the lakes on which we traveled.

We hiked out to the location between Bald Eagle and Turtle Lakes an hour faster than we had been able to ski the same 6 mile distance.  Between faster travel and longer days, time would not be a limiting factor on this trip.


We walked right up to the wolf’s location and were getting strong signals with the radio telemetry unit.  We checked the high area, we checked the low area and we even climbed down to a rock ledge and into a large crack that feasibly could hold a wolf.

There were signs of other animals in the area this time and speculation flew around about what might have happened to the wolf’s body.  We shoveled significant amounts of snow to be certain we weren’t missing anything.  No luck.  After about an hour and a half of looking, we decided that the wolf—or possibly just the collar—was buried in the snow and ice.


By Canoe
Feeling a bit like Captain Ahab at this point, I wanted just one more look after the ice went out on the lakes and the snow melted.  My wife, Molly, and I connected with students from Outward Bound who needed to complete a service project to successfully finish their course.

They agreed to paddle with us and help us look for the wolf.  It was a wonderful day for a paddle and the students, teenagers from all over the United States, were a joy to paddle with.  Unfortunately, the outcome was the same.  The signal was still strong and it appeared to be at the base of the cliff.  Despite much crawling around and checking in very small spaces we could not locate the wolf.

Wolf 989 would remain where he died. Or so I thought.


Success!
In early October I received an e-mail from Dr. Shannon Barber-Meyer, the wolf biologist with the USGS wolf-deer study.  The subject of the e-mail was “Wolf 989’s story ends.”  Two field technicians for the project made a final attempt and found the wolf.

It was located in the large crack that we had looked around and into numerous times, but was all the way at the bottom.  During the winter it had been covered in snow.  One of the technicians, Hans Martin, climbed all the way down into the crack—an extremely tight space—and brought wolf 989 out for inspection. (See pictures).  The technicians also found part of the shoulder and some tufts of hair up on the ledge above the crack.  They then took measurements, brought the skull back for inclusion in on-going research.  They brought the collar back as well, to put it back in use in the future.                     (Photo: Hans Martin)


Now the question became, “How did the wolf get there?”  Though we will never know the answer, a number of theories were discussed and debated. Did it die above the crack and then slide down into it with the snow?  Was it chasing prey and slip unintentionally into the crack, leaving it unable to get out?  Did it die up on the ledge and get carried down into the crack by a scavenger?  Each one of those possibilities has supporting and contradictory evidence.

What did I Learn?
Being an educator, I immediately began to think about the lessons learned from this effort.  To be sure, I gained experience in winter travel by ski and by dog team.  I learned a little more about the use of radio telemetry equipment in the field and I got the chance to travel with some excellent people in a variety of conditions.

I also learned that any preconceived notions of the romance and glamour of the life of a field biologist might need to be adjusted to meet reality.  Harsh weather conditions, challenging physical efforts and the disappointment associated with not achieving the task at hand are just some of the many obstacles they face.  I’ll definitely offer to assist in retrieval efforts in the future hope to be able to share some of those experiences in this space as well.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

TAMU Press author, Brandon Rottinghaus comments on Perry’s Ad

Governor Perry's latest ad, entitled "Strong," attracted roughly 750,000 views on YouTube in two days.

Brandon Rottinghaus, author of The Provisional Pulpit: Modern Presidential Leadership of Public Opinion (TAMU 2010) and Associate Professor of political science at UH commented on the controversial ad on KUHF Houston Public Radio. He says commenters who declared the ad promotes hatred and violence are more representative of the general electorate.

"His strategy right now is to ignore the general public at this stage, and focus in on the voters who are of very conservative stripe, but who are also very active. And that is going to be his strategy for trying to pry off some of the votes that have been siphoned by Newt Gingrich." — Rottinghaus

Rottinghaus also said that by hitting cultural issues so strongly, Perry has found a way to differentiate himself from the front-runners in Iowa.

Watch Perry’s ad here:















Rottinghaus’s The Provisional Pulpit: Modern Presidential Leadership of Public Opinion is for sale on the Press website and available in an edition. Read more about the book and get your own copy now!

UGH!




This is the second part of a three-part series, which details the efforts to retrieve a radio-collared wolf that died in the fall of 2010.  The first attempt is covered in the most recent blog post.

Humbled after our unsuccessful attempt to retrieve wolf 989 (See previous blog post.) my wife, Molly, and I decided to try it again a week later.  This time we would be prepared with backcountry skis with proper bindings, a real pulk (sled) and we would give ourselves more time to find the wolf.

The night before our next attempt six inches of snow fell.  It was beautiful, but not great for an ambitious schedule that still required us to pick our kids up by 5:30 pm.  The new snow would mean we had to break trail the entire way instead of relying on the dog teams who use the trail to do the hard work.  It would slow us down tremendously.

Where bitterly cold temperatures and slush had foiled us the week before, this week’s culprits would be the slush and the new snow.  The temperature was in the teens and only a slight breeze was blowing.

Molly broke trail most of the way while I skied behind her with the loaded pulk.  It was absolutely beautiful out and we enjoyed the time in the wilderness.  Unfortunately, it was slow going.  Along with the snow, we repeatedly had to stop and scrape the ice off our skis when we hit slush.  We left the truck at about 8:45 in the morning and didn’t reach the edge of the lake—where we would actually start looking for the wolf—until 12:30.

With our limited time, and the GPS coordinates for the wolf appearing to be right on the edge of a steep drop off, we had to decide if we were going to look on the high ground or the low lying area.  The vegetation in the cut between the cliffs was extremely thick, so I chose the high ground.  Molly stayed with the skis and gear so she could bring any equipment we needed when I located the wolf.

I was greeted by thigh-deep snow and thick vegetation.  The vegetation made snowshoes impractical, so I went without. 



More Slow Going
Twenty-five minutes after leaving the lake, I was within about 50 feet of the wolf, according to the GPS.  I switched on the radio telemetry unit, and the signal was strong and clear.  I was close.  The signal brought me right to the edge of the cliff.  I looked around in the deep snow, but saw nothing that would indicate a dead wolf was lying nearby.  Forty-five minutes had gone by since I left the lake.  We were out of time.  (Just wait until you read where the wolf was finally found.)

I would like to say I reacted to another failed attempt with grace and aplomb.  That would not be honest.  More than a couple inappropriate words were let fly into the quiet wilderness air.  My frustration was extreme, but we had to get moving back.

We had a long, hard and nearly silent ski back to the truck.  We had pushed our time limit and had to move as fast as we could.  When we got back to the truck, we were once again spent.  Besides the fact we didn’t find the wolf, it had been a wonderful excursion into the woods.  I noted in a log later that night that maybe someone else would have to get Wolf 989.

Maybe Dog Teams are the Answer
Then, I spoke with someone at Voyageur Outward Bound (OB).  We wanted to get out into the BWCA, they had dog teams that could get us there faster.  Sweet.  That’s how we found ourselves two weeks later loaded up and moving towards the wolf’s location.

It was another cold day, -29 degrees, but with a brilliant blue sky.  As we were walking to the dog yard, a staff person at OB who had been feeding the dogs walked past us with frostbite on his nose.  Not a great start.

This was my first real experience with sled dogs, and I was extremely excited.  I have wanted to try dog sledding for years, and this would be my chance.  Besides myself there were three Outward Bound staff and Camdilla Wirth, an educator at the Center, on this trip.  It was a good group to travel with.

We got off to a bit of a slow start, and once again pushed out into new snow.  A couple of dog teams had come through since the last significant snow, but the trails were still slow going for the dogs and the slush problem had not gone away.

We made steady progress from our drop off point until we reached Gabbro Lake.  As we dropped onto the lake the teams were faced with drifted snow and deep, narrow channels that had been cut by the few teams who had gone through.  The dogs were skittish and acted somewhat stressed by the situation.


An Outward Bound staff person asked Camdilla and I to widen the trail by walking in snowshoes ahead of the teams.  This seemed to work, but the dogs were still edgy and a couple of scraps broke out inside the teams.  Progress came nearly to a halt.  Then, a significant fight broke out and two dogs were slightly injured.

Though we looked at every option, the decision to turn around and get the dogs back to be treated was an easy one.  Outward Bound safety procedures prevented any of their staff continuing on without specific equipment, of which we had only one set, so we all headed back together, one more unsuccessful trip.  We had only made it about three miles towards our destination.


Outward Bound offered one more time to use a dog team to help in the effort.  A week later Camdilla joined students who were in the middle of a course in a last-ditch effort to find Wolf 989.  They made it to the site, searched for two hours, both on the high ground and the low area below the cliff and had no luck.  They came to the conclusion that it was in a large crack in the rock or below the cliff face buried in ice.  (Would they be correct when the wolf was actually found?)

At this point I truly expected that to be our last trip.  I spoke with the USGS staff who had asked us to get the wolf and was told to leave it be. But now the challenge had hold of me, and I wanted to find the wolf and bring it back.

In the next entry, the final trips and the successful conclusion to this retrieval effort.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Texas State students and staff launch Center for Texas Public History under TAMU Press author direction

The National Park Service needed help researching the history of a former Secret Service command outpost at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park at Stonewall and turned to public history professors Lynn Denton and Dan Utley in the Department of History at Texas State University-San Marcos.

Under Denton and Utley’s guidance, graduate researched a wide variety of records to complete a detailed analysis of the nationally significant historic site and recommended ways to interpret the building’s historic significance to park visitors.

“The students collected many stories from Secret Service agents and others who served at the LBJ Ranch during Johnson’s presidency,” said Utley. “The stories show LBJ’s personal side and his family’s interaction with the Secret Service. Now, the Park Service will be able to relate these stories to the public through that little Secret Service building near the ‘Texas White House.’”

Because Texas State’s History Department receives so many
requests for help with historical research and interpretation, the Center for Texas Public History was created to respond to the requests.

Details on the Center for Texas Public History:
-to be staffed by faculty and students in the department’s graduate program in public history
- Will focus on museum work, oral history, and cultural resource management available to government agencies, museums, historical commissions, community organizations and others that need help in researching and interpreting historical information for the public

Dan Utley is also the co-author of History Ahead: Stories beyond the Texas Roadside Markers (TAMU 2010).
History Ahead offers a rich array of local stories that interweave with the broader regional and national context, touching on themes of culture, art, music, technology, the environment, oil, aviation, and folklore, among other topics. Utley and author Cynthia Beeman have located these forgotten gems, polished them up to a high shine, and offered them along with convenient maps and directions to the marker sites.

For more information on The Center for Texas Public History, read “Texas State establishes new Center for Texas Public History” by Ann Friou.

Visit the Press website to read more about History Ahead, Dan Utley and order your copy!

Author Tyler Priest comments on Halliburton's BP spill claims

Halliburton has been in the news in defense against accusations it intentionally destroyed evidence about the quality of cement slurry in an oil well that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico. The cement job on the Macondo well is expected to play a big role in
the court battle scheduled to start Feb. 27 in New Orleans of who should bear the blame for the blowout that killed 11 workers and led to the nation's worst offshore oil spill.

Tyler Priest, a University of Houston historian who specializes in the Gulf oil industry and author of The Offshore Imperative (TAMU 2007) confirms the cement failure will be a big issue in Cain Burdeau’s article “Halliburton defends itself against BP spill claims.”

"It seems like the big litigation is going to be between BP and its contractors," Priest said. "There's a lot of money at stake, and it's going to be decided in the courts."

Read the full article here.
Priest’s The Offshore Imperative gives a detailed account of the modern history of Shell Oil. Drawing on interviews with Shell retirees and many other sources, Priest relates how the imagination, talent, and hard work of personnel at all levels shaped the evolution of the company. The narrative also covers important aspects of Shell Oil’s corporate evolution, but the comp
any’s pioneering steps into the deep water fields of the Gulf of Mexico are its signature achievement. Priest’s study demonstrates that engineers did not suddenly create methods for finding and producing oil and gas from astounding water depths. Rather, they built on a half-century of accumulated knowledge and improvements to technical systems.
Read more about The Offshore Imperative and order your own copy here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Author Steven Fenberg appears on KUHT-TV’s Science and Technology Night

Steven Fenberg, author of Unprecedented Power (TAMU 2011), recently appeared on KUHT-TV's Science and Technology night. He talked about Jesse Holman Jones and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation’s development of synthetic rubber, a perfect topic for Pearl Harbor Day. View the full interview below!



In Unprecedented Power, Fenberg tells the story of Jesse Holman Jones, the Houston businessman who went to Washington as an appointed official and provided the pragmatic leadership that salvaged capitalism during the Great Depression and militarized industry in time to fight and win World War II.

Jones—an entrepreneur with an eighth- grade education who built Houston’s tallest buildings of the time—was considered to be the most powerful person in the nation, next to President Roosevelt. As chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Jones saved farms, homes, banks and businesses; built infrastructure; set the price of gold with FDR each morning in the president’s bedroom; and in the process made a substantial profit for the government. Then Jones turned the RFC’s focus from domestic economics to global defense.

Read more about Unprecedented Power and order your own copy here.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It seemed so straightforward...

It all started with an e-mail from Lori Schmidt, our wolf curator.  There were three collared wolves that died in late fall last year, and the USGS wolf and deer study staff wanted to examine them for their research.  They did not have the personnel to retrieve them.  “Does anyone want to help?”

Sure.  One was down a minimum maintenance road, one was near a small lake easily accessible by road, and one was near the portage between Bald Eagle Lake and Turtle Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. (BWCA) (See Map). 


I offered to get the one in the BWCA.  It turned out to be Wolf 989, an eleven year-old male from the Pike Pack and whose mortality signal was first picked up on December 13, 2010. (More information on 989)

I figured my wife, Molly, and I could ski out to it, locate it using the GPS coordinates I received from the USGS staff and use the radio telemetry unit to find the dead wolf.  We would then haul it back on a ski pulk and bring it to the Kawishiwi  Field Lab.  Simple.

If only things were ever that simple.  What follows, broken into three entries, is the story of our attempts (yes, attempts) and what I learned about the nature of field work that many of us who are not biologists may believe to be glamorous and alluring.

Two by Ski
Both my wife and I are good skiers and quite comfortable in winter conditions.  It’s one of the reasons I volunteered to get the wolf in the BWCA.  The wolf was about 6 miles from the nearest access point, and we thought we could make it there and back in a day.  Our first incorrect assumption.

It’s important to remember that vehicles with motors are not allowed in this part of the BWCA, so taking a snow machine across the frozen lakes was not an option.

We started off just after dropping the kids at school and daycare, about 9:00 AM.  We packed all of our gear into two backpacks, brought a sled to haul the wolf once we found it and drove down Spruce Road to the winter trailhead. We had not taken the time to get backcountry skis with Berwin bindings, thinking our regular cross country ski equipment would work fine for this short ski.  This was a bad decision and had a major impact later in the day.

Wind Chills -40
It was a cold, but seemingly manageable -1 degree Fahrenheit when we left the truck. However, wind chills were predicted to be nearly -40° F.  As we skied through the woods it felt quite comfortable with no hint of the predicted wind.  We followed trails used mainly by dog teams in the winter making slow but steady progress.

Then we hit Gabbro Lake.   Skiing out into the wind on the lake it became obvious the predicted wind chills would be reached. No matter, we were dressed properly, had plenty of water and food, and appropriate first aid and survival gear.  Success still seemed possible.

The wind was at our back much of the trip out and although we hit slushy spots on the lake several times, we were able to scrape off the ice and keep going.

A note about lake slush:  If you are not from a northern area, you may not be familiar with it.  The slush does not mean the ice isn’t safe.  It is created by the weight of snow pressing down on newly formed ice and pressing water out of cracks in the ice.  The water is then insulated by the snow and stays liquid.  Once it is disturbed and exposed it freezes very quickly to whatever it touches. It can make winter lake travel difficult or impossible in bad slush seasons no matter what form of transportation one is using.

By just before noon, we were within about a mile of the wolf’s location and were looking for an obscure winter trail when the trouble started.  We skied into a bay and knew the trail was somewhere on the other side.  While stopping to look around I realized I was standing in a slushy mess.  Molly figured it out quickly and skied to the edge of the bay and escaped the slush.  I was stuck.  I removed my ski to try and scrape it, lost my balance and stepped into the slush. I now had ice on my ski and boot.

I had had enough
Normally, that’s not a huge deal.  Unfortunately for me, ice got into the binding and kept if from locking onto my ski boot.  I messed with it for quite some time with no success.  Molly was yelling to me from across the bay—a distance of about 50 yards—I couldn’t hear what she was saying due to the wind.  Finally after what I thought was about ten minutes, I had had enough.  I gave up and decided to keep one ski on and hobble over to Molly.  When I stepped onto the snow again, my foot went all the way through the snow and the slush went over the top of my boot, soaking my foot.  Definitely not good.

When I made it to Molly, I asked, “What were you yelling?”

“I wanted to know what you were doing.  You were stuck there almost 20 minutes,” she replied.

In my effort to fix the binding I had not realized that I had been standing out in the full brunt of the wind in my light ski clothes for that long. Between that and the wet foot, I suddenly realized just how cold I was.  This was still not a life threatening situation, but it was time to start making good decisions or we might find ourselves in real trouble.

We decided to seek shelter behind the only thing available, a large boulder on the other side of the bay.  Molly skied and I hobbled over to it, avoiding the slush in the bay.  When we got there we realized it didn’t offer as much shelter from the wind as we had hoped.  As we sat there considering our options we realized the possibility of retrieving the wolf was diminishing by the second.

It was time to move
We put on our heavy coats and dry hats and tried to figure out how to fix the binding.  First, we tried cleaning it out with a knife.  Then, we tried knocking it against the rock to break the ice loose.  Finally, we tried melting the ice with the flame from a candle in our pack, but we couldn’t keep the flame lit, even with the protection of the boulder.  We spent about twenty minutes working on the binding and even with our warmer clothes on, we continued to get colder.  It was time to move, and unfortunately the direction had to be back to the truck, not towards the wolf.

We made the decision that continued work on the binding made no sense.  I took off my ski boots (The other boot had frozen into the binding and remained attached to the ski.) put on dry socks and slipped my feet into my Steger Camuks for a long, slow walk home.

What had been a pretty slow pace on the way out ebbed to almost a crawl.  It had taken about two and a half hours to ski to the bay before being foiled by the slush.  The return trip, mostly into the wind, took more than three grueling hours.  It was an extremely challenging effort for both Molly and I, and we consider ourselves to be in fairly good shape.  We had to rest and swap the load numerous times on the trip back, but after our fingers and toes warmed up from the extended stop, we could once again focus solely on the effort.  When we made it off the lake, we stopped to rest and snack in the relative warmth of the woods. (See pictures.)



We made it safely back to the truck and enjoyed some warm coffee we had left in a thermos before speeding off to pick up our kids.  Although it was frustrating not to get the wolf we had set out for, both Molly and I felt strongly then and still do that turning around was the right choice.  This trip was a good reminder that although we were only about five miles from our vehicle, in harsh winter conditions that can be a really long way.

Next installment:  One more trip by ski and two with dog teams…

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Rudder exhibit at Texas A&M University

James Earl Rudder. If you don’t already know the significance of his name, travel to Aggieland and you will find the decorated war hero-turned-transformational A&M president’s name is all over town. The building that houses the current university president, the main local freeway and the University visitor’s center are all named after the esteemed former TAMU president and war hero.

Appropriately, the newest exhibit at Texas A&M University’s Cushing Memorial Library & Archives spotlights the life of James Earl Rudder. The exhibit, "From Pointe du Hoc to College Station," opened with a lecture by Thomas M. Hatfield, author of Rudder: From Leader to Legend (TAMU 2011), a book about the life of Rudder. Rudder: From Leader to Legend pays full tribute to Rudder, a man who exemplified leadership, vision, and courage.

TAMU Times recently gave a detailed look into the exhibit’s features:

“The exhibit highlights correspondence, documents and memorabilia from the James Earl Rudder Collection donated by his wife Margaret E. Rudder in 2002. Items on display include a wooden map case with maps used for the D-Day invasion, a dress uniform, French Legion of Honour and Croix de Guerre medals and his historic speech delivered April 27, 1963, supporting the admittance of women to Texas A&M.”

Copyright: D.McDermand, The Eagle
The exhibit features a June 11, 1954, cover story in Collier's Magazine on how he brought his son, Earl "Bud" Rudder, back to Point du Hoc, France.

The exhibit will remain on display until Jan. 27, 2012.

Find more information on the exhibit, Rudder and Thomas Hatfield’s Rudder: From Leader to Legend here!

Steplings is a big hit!

Check out this book trailer for C.W. Smith’s new novel Steplings (TCU 2011). One of our favorite book blogs, Shelf-Awareness deemed it “Book Trailer for the Day!” Watch here!

What critics are saying:

“Texas novelist C.W. Smith has received just about every literary award the state and region bestow, and his latest work, the sprightly and wise Steplings, will no doubt add to his reputation as a Lone Star star.” —Dallas Morning News
“It's elegantly written, sometimes funny, often heartbreaking, and it never hits a false note.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“…rich in psychological insight and lit by occasional flashes of humor.” —Kirkus Reviews

“It's a wonderful story for parents and should be required reading for teens to meet this ordinary family and share those three extraordinary days

with them. They will break your heart but you'll also want to hug them and welcome them home.” —San Antonio Express-News

“Set in 2002, Steplings has the feel of a traditional coming of age novel mixed with a road story, yet the characters are realistically grounded in the problems and anxieties of our early 21st century.”—Houston Culture Map

“If one were to highlight only one of Smith's talents as a writer, perhaps what stands as the best representation of his work and the clearest example of his artistic capacity is his ability to draw a reader so fully into his creative world that they are, at the concluding lines, loathe to leave it at all. Readers will find themselves worrying after Smith's p

rotagonists long after the last page is turned, restlessly concerned for the dear souls of the very real young people…who unknowingly and unintentionally inspired this all‐too realistic contemporary tale.” —Dallas Observer

“Smith's story rings true and never feels stale. A dash of international politics spices up the personal politics of Steplings in a way that isn't forced or incongrue
nt.”—Austin Chronicle.

“ The characters take on vivid personality and the relationships deepen in a delightfully believable way. We follow Jason as he desperately tries to contact Lisa and Emily discovers that her father is not the saint she had believed. The two make page-turning strides toward responsibility and maturity as they learn what an awesome task it is to take responsibility for each other.” —Texas Book Lover

Read more about Steplings and order your own copy now!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Remembering Pearl Harbor

On this day, 70 years ago, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor killed more than 2,400 Americans, wounded 1,000 and almost wiped out an entire fleet. While the attack was designed to hurt the United States Navy, it instead drew Americans together, creating a spirit that Japanese leadership never expected.

TAMU Press remembers and reflects on the bravery and sacrifice that occurred at Pearl Harbor. In the spirit of remembrance, we encourage readers to check out William Bartsch’s December 8, 1941: MacArthur's Pearl Harbor.

Bartch’s detailed account of the Pearl Harbor attack received the Arthur Goodzeit Award, presented by the Board of New York Military Affairs Symposium in 2004. December 8, 1941: MacArthur's Pearl Harbor will be reprinted in paperback this spring.


In December 8, 1941: MacArthur's Pearl Harbor, Bartsch draws upon 25 years of research into American and Japanese records and interviews with many of the participants themselves, particularly survivors of the actual attack on Clark and Iba air bases. The dramatic and detailed coverage of the attack is preceded by an account of the harried American build-up of air power in the Philippines after July, 1941, and of Japanese planning and preparations for this opening assault of its Southern Operations. Bartsch juxtaposes the experiences of staff of the U.S. War Department in Washington and its Far East Air Force bomber, fighter, and radar personnel in the Philippines, who were affected by its decisions, with those of Japan’s Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo and the 11th Air Fleet staff and pilots on Formosa, who were assigned the responsibility for carrying out the attack on the Philippines 500 miles to the south. In order to put the December 8th attack in broader context, Bartsch details micro-level personal experiences and presents the political and strategic aspects of American and Japanese planning for a war in the Pacific.

Despite the significance of this subject matter, it has never before been given full book-length treatment. This book represents the culmination of decades-long efforts of the author to fill this historical gap. Read more about December 8, 1941: MacArthur's Pearl Harbor and order your own copy here.

Interested in World War II? The TAMU Press Consortium has published 80+ books covering the details of the war events. Whether you are a World War II scholar or reader searching for a great read, you are guaranteed to find a book that fits your interests. See our wide selection of World War II books here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Welcome to Wild Bytes

Welcome to Wild Bytes!  The International Wolf Center education department is excited to launch our new blog. Adding to our other electronic education and social media offerings feels great and we couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities.  We hope to engage readers from our unique position as educators, residents of Minnesota’s Northwoods and as people who care deeply about wolves and the wildlands that serve as their home.

This blog will be many things.  We will write about wolves for sure, but this space will cover much more.  From interesting scientific topics, to experiential pedagogy, to our own observations and experiences in the natural world; we hope you join us on our educational journey and become an integral part of a dialogue that will allow us all to learn.  We will feature written word, pictures and video and hope it moves you to comment and engage with us.

The primary contributors will be the permanent education staff at the International Wolf Center interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota.  Tara Johnson, program specialist, is a licensed elementary educator.  She has worked at the Center for three and a half years and is finishing up on her Master’s degree this winter.  She has a wealth of knowledge and keen interest in learning.  She is currently working on Minnesota WolfLink, a project funded by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which allows us to connect with Minnesota students through outdoor education and videoconferencing.

Jess Edberg, information services director, is our go-to wolf person.  She knows the biology, she knows the wolf management issues and she knows how to communicate with people of all ages.  She particularly enjoys working with high school and college age students and adults.  Jess is an avid outdoorswoman and spent time working as a field tech with the USGS wolf and deer study, experience that informs her work every day.

Lori Schmidt, wolf curator, has a broad range of knowledge and interests.  Along with being widely respected for her knowledge of the care and management of captive animals, she has an intricate knowledge of wolves in the wild.  People from around the globe seek out her expertise on not only wolves, but many subjects concerning wildlife management and forestry.   In addition to her work at the Center, she is the Program Coordinator of the Natural Resources Department at Vermillion Community College in Ely.

As the Director of Education, I will also be contributing regularly to Wild Bytes.  I have been with the Center for nearly two years.  I have almost twenty years of experience in experiential and environmental education.  I have Master’s in Education and was teaching in the classroom for nine years before accepting the chance to move up to Ely to join the Center.   One of our first entries will be about my unsuccessful efforts to retrieve a collared wolf that died last winter inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

We will also have guest contributors, from biologists to educators to wildlife artists and more.  We truly hope this will be an engaging and enjoyable endeavor for readers and contributors alike.  We hope to post weekly, but sometimes it may be a little more.  We plan for this to be a useful space for classroom teachers, wolf enthusiasts, hunters, people who care about our natural resources in general and many others as well.  We will gladly accept any suggestions on content, ideas for improvement and suggestions to make this a true resource.

Thanks for your interest and we look forward to learning with you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Congratulations Loflins!

Brian and Shirley Loflin accepted the 2011 Carroll Abbott Memorial Award at the fall meeting of the Native Plant Society of Texas for their book Grasses of the Texas Hill Country. Named for the society's founder, the award is given to books on Texas plants written for a popular audience.

Their photographic guide to grasses gives all who have been frustrated trying to identify these difficult plants an easy-to-use, visually precise, and information-packed field guide to seventy-seven native and introduced species that grow in the Texas Hill Country and beyond.

With a blade of grass in hand, open this book and find:
- Handy thumb guides to seedhead type, the most visible distinguishing characteristic to begin identification
- Color photographs of stands of grasses and detailed close-ups
- Concise information about economic uses, habitat, range, and flowering season
- Quick-reference icons for native status, toxicity, growing season, and grazing response

Read more about Grasses of the Texas Hill Country and order your own copy here!