Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jeff Meets Mark

It's always a magical moment when the young naturalist gets to meet the seasoned veteran!  Too bad that Mark Musselman, the education Director at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, is both older and less-seasoned than Jeff Corwin, who "has been working for the conservation of endangered species and ecosystems around the world since he was a teenager."  He's also had some television shows, but who hasn't been on television before? As we noted in a previous entry, Jeff Corwin has never been to the internationally-recognized, largest-remaining, old-growth, cypress-tupelo swamp in the world.

 Go ahead and pat yourself on the back if you already have that on your resume.  Well, while at the South Carolina Science Council's annual conference in Myrtle Beach, we put on the hard sell.  While Jeff Corwin was trapped in the exhibit hall for a book signing, we snuck away from our Francis Beidler Forest display booth and presented Jeff with a information-packed brochure, a business card with all the contact information, a Francis Beidler Forest patch and secured the valuable items together with a Francis Beidler Forest pin.  Not only did we present the material to Jeff Corwin in a manner that made it difficult to move directly to the nearest recycling bin, but we have photographic evidence of Jeff Corwin reading the material!

Budgets within school districts and within state agencies were already strained prior to the downturn on Wall Street.  However, the ensuing budgetary retractions have cut staff and travel funds making for disappointing attendance numbers.  The South Carolina Department of
 Natural Resources did not show and teacher attendance was down 500-700 below projections.  Of the 825 teachers in attendance, some were the sole representative of their district, their school, and/or their grade level.  At the Francis Beidler Forest booth, we made contact with approximately 150 individuals.  Besides talking about the unique ecosystem at Beidler Forest and the educational opportunities, we directed them to the educators section, the curriculum section, and the species images on our webpage.

Hopefully, between Jeff Corwin's conservation contacts, our contact with the teachers at the conference, and your word-of-mouth advertising, we will be able to spread the word about the planetary jewel located in South Carolina's Four Holes Swamp!

Booth image by Mark Musselman
Jeff Corwin image by A. B. Marshall

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