By: Cholla Rose Nicoll, Borderlands Wildlife Preserve Coordinator
As the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve Coordinator, one of my many roles is to teach occasionally. The Borderlands education program brings in students from all over the globe, and frequently they are interested in wildlife. I begin my classes by presenting about the preserve and sharing some beautiful pictures and videos of some of the most charismatic animals in the area. As a relatively introverted person, this is always a challenge for me. Still, I am more grateful for each opportunity to teach I get.
Both of my parents in their younger years were teachers. They were not teachers in the traditional sense of working in public schools or universities. Still, they taught students what they were experts in, art and solar. I still admire their ability to answer just about any question on these topics. I now know how they gained this wisdom, and it was through teaching and being open to answering all those questions!
Each time I teach, I strive to have all the answers in my head. I study up on jaguars and bats and try to anticipate what I will be asked. There are so many animals to know about. Each time I am caught off guard with questions like, how many different stink bug species are there? How many jaguars exist worldwide? How high do butterflies fly? And the tough ones like, will humans ever be able to coexist with predators? What animals here will go extinct due to climate change? Are you hopeful for the future?
I take some time after each class to research the questions I don't have answers to, and frequently I learn so much more than I ever expected. Some of the questions are answered with even more questions. These are the best questions and an invitation to students to research more and find the answers themselves, their curiosity is needed.
So, am I hopeful for the future? Yes, I am hopeful each time I teach because the students' questions are full of hope, wonder, and care, and that is exactly what we need to save each other and the wildlife we love. Thank you to all the students out there, the ones in school and the ones who refuse to stop learning. Keep the questions coming!
Just in case you are wondering. There are around 120 pinacate beetle (stink bug) species found in the western United States. Worldwide jaguar estimates range from 15,000 to 170,000, more conclusive research is needed, but most experts lean towards the lower end of that range. Some butterflies have been known to fly at heights of 11,000 to 20,000 feet! Who knew!
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