Love the outdoors? Head to Red Mountain Park for BioBlitz Oct. 16


ACES, BioBlitz
These women are both environmental educators showing skins and furs of animals that died of natural causes for educational purposes in advance of BioBlitz, which gives people the opportunity to help inventory the flora and fauna of Red Mountain Park. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

If you love being outside and you think science is cool, head over to Red Mountain Park on Saturday, October 16, for BioBlitz. During the event, learn how to be a scientist for the day and meet three awesome women scientists helping to protect natural resources here in Alabama. Keep reading for all the details.

Put BioBlitz in your calendar today

Bio Blitz schedule
Here’s what to expect for the day. Graphic via BioBlitz

Put on your scientist hat and help discover all the biodiversity Red Mountain Park has to offer. The goal of the BioBlitz is to build an inventory of species at Red Mountain Park. You’ll learn how to observe and collect plant and animal data. Bonus: all ages are welcome. 

Whether you’re most into in bugs, fungi, plants or animals, you’re sure to find something interesting.

  • What: BioBlitz—collect plant and animal data to learn about local biodiversity with scientists and educators from Auburn University and other local institutions.
  • When: Saturday, October 16, 8AM-5PM
  • Where: Red Mountain Park | 2011 Frankfurt Dr, Birmingham, AL 35211
  • Cost: free
  • Register now (recommended but not required)

To get an inside look into the world of actual scientists, we reached out to three women who are thriving in the fields of forestry, land management and streams. Here’s what they told us.

Forestry—Becky Barlow is teaching women landowners through ForestHER

ForestHER, BioBlitz
Becky Barlow leading a ForestHER workshop. Photo via Katie Jackson

Becky Barlow, works in forestry and wildlife sciences at Auburn University. She got into forestry in a roundabout way. 

Her first love was landscape architecture, but she soon realized her true calling was large-scale land planning. Someone suggested she could go into forestry, and after looking into it, she thought it sounded like a good idea.

While she was presenting her Masters work on the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas and Oklahoma, she met people from Weyerhaueser who asked if she’d like to interview for a position. 

From there, she worked in the industry for about 13 years before going back to school for her PhD. When an extension and teaching position came up in 2007 in the Forestry and Wildlife Sciences department at Auburn, she applied for the job and has been at the university ever since. 

She credits her success in this field to good mentors, hard work and a little bit of luck. 

ForestHer is a five-year-old initiative she created after a timber buyer earned her grandmother’s trust, then made her promises about her land that he didn’t keep. As a result of this experience, she wanted to educate other women landowners so they wouldn’t be taken advantage of.

Find out more about ForestHER workshops.

Land Management—Lynn Dickinson is the coordinator of BioBlitz

Lynn Dickinson in the field, BioBlitz
Lynn Dickinson out in the field. Photo via Chris Green

Lynn Dickinson, works as an extension agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Auburn University. She also took a roundabout journey to her current career. Her undergrad degree was in English Lit, and then after she remarried, her husband was planning to go back to school and said “why don’t you come with me?”

She ended up studying natural resource management in her 50s and can’t believe she’s found her way into something that’s such a perfect fit for her. 

“I love being outside. I like the connection with nature, studying wildlife and invasive species and things like that. To be able to work in a field, doing something that you already love, was just a no brainer for me. That was probably the best decision I ever made.”

Lynn Dickinson

When I asked how this ties in with the BioBlitz she’s helping to coordinate, she said they’re hoping to come up with something they can hand over to the folks at Red Mountain Park that shows what they’ve found. The idea is that this will help them as they manage the land and develop programming for the park.

Streams—Dr. Eve Brantley is working on keeping waterways clean

Eve Brantley, BioBlitz
Learning about aquatic macro invertebrates and bioindicators. Photo via Dr. Eve Brantley

Dr. Eve Brantley, Professor and Extension Specialist, Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Auburn University, is passionate about promoting understanding of water resources and our shared responsibility as stewards of water resources, “especially in Alabama, where we rank highest in terms of freshwater biodiversity.” 

She understands that while other people might not get as excited about freshwater snails as she does, they do care deeply about clean water for drinking, boating, swimming or fishing.

Try your hand at being a citizen scientist—head out to Red Mountain Park on Saturday, October 16, anytime between 8AM-8PM. Registration is optional, but it’s nice to RSVP—let them know you’re coming.

For more info, follow Alabama Cooperative Extension System—Jefferson County on Facebook or sign up for their newsletter today.

Sponsored by:

Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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