- Author: Eliot Freutel
If you follow CalNat on social media, this picture taken by Shane Feirer (a colleague at UCANR Hopland Research and Education Center) might look familiar to you.
Shane went out to his yard one evening to cook dinner for his family on the BBQ. When he opened it up, he found it was FULL of acorns. Turns out that an industrious Acorn Woodpecker had been storing its fall/winter cache of acorns inside. He snapped a quick photo and passed it along to the CalNat Staff. Having spent so many hours connecting with our naturalists, we knew they would appreciate the whimsical inconvenience and ingenuity of this industrious woodpecker and decided to share his picture as a social media post. What started as a regular Wednesday post ended up reaching over 54,000 people! It is currently on track to be our most successful social media post to date!
We were shocked at how something so silly and inconvenient could have such an impact on our audience. As we talked more and more about why this particular post was doing so well, it occurred to us that our naturalists identify with this photo on several levels:
- Place - This animal repurposed a BBQ for its survival. Some might view this as an inconvenience while others see it as next level intelligence and adaptability. Regardless, we don't always find nature where we think it should be.
- Small things add up - By collecting and storing one acorn at a time, this woodpecker has made a noticeable impact on its habitat. Similarly, one person volunteering a few hours here and there might not seem significant but overtime the impact is massive!
From all of this, we couldn't help but draw a parallel to our naturalists' impact on California's habitat through collective and individual volunteering overtime: over 700 naturalists have totaled more than 46,000 volunteer hours in 2019! This averages out to 131 hours per naturalist! WOW!
In recognition of this collective impact, the CalNat program offers an annual service pin to naturalists who log 40 or more hours of volunteer time in the VMS. This year's pin is the Spanish Shawl and was designed by Eva Boynton, a naturalist from Pacific Grove Natural History Museum.
So thank you for your service hours and go “fill your BBQs” with those 40 “acorn” hours and remember to log them in the VMS! (There's still time to enter 2019 hours!)