Tuesday, August 21, 2012


MARLENE CREATES--POET OF THE BOREAL POETRY GARDEN.  Marlene, a visual artist and poet, creates events for her St. John's community by inviting them out to her home, where she engages them on a nature walk enlightened by poetry and so much more. (all photos by Anthony Martin, geologist)
HALLELUJAH: Hallelujah for travel and meeting like-minded CREATIVE SOULS and LOVERS and INVESTIGATORS of the EARTH! My Chiboogamoo (aka Anthony Martin) and I had the good fortune to travel to the outskirts of St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, to experience an outdoor poetry event. As the Ichnia 2012 conference was concluding its week-long seminar talks on ichnology at Memorial University, we were swept away by poet Don McKay and paleontologist Liam Herringshaw to be driven down roads adorned by trees and rivers obscured in mist. Our destination was the home of Marlene Creates in order to experience the Boreal Poetry Garden Event.

ANTHONY MARTIN (aka Chiboogamoo): Much of our time in Newfoundland before this event was occupied by walking along coastal exposures of rock from the Precambrian and Ordovician Periods, representing times from about 600-480 million years ago. So it was completely different for me - as a geologist - to walk through a verdant boreal forest while in Newfoundland. These forests, which are cold-adapted biomes between the treeless tundras of the north and the more temperate forests of the south, are among the most extensive on earth, yet as far as I know, this was my first direct encounter with one.

PARKING LOT ATTENDANT FOR BOREAL POETRY GARDEN. Don McKay assisted Marlene Creates  by collecting money and showing guests where to park near her 6-acre wilderness home. 
HALLELUJAH: For my Chiboogamoo and me, this event was cloaked in mystery. We had seen Don McKay read poetry from his book, Paradoxides, at the Ichnia 2012 banquet at the university, and I had met Marlene Creates there, but we didn't know what to expect from an event that asked its participants to move around a boreal forest with the poet to specific locations that she had written a poem about. We soon, however, found ourselves in the company of strong CREATIVE SPIRITS and GOOD SOULS who were curious and wanted to learn more about the EARTH. To heighten and inform our experience of her on-site poetry reading, Marlene had invited a geologist and storyteller, Paul Dean, to accompany us. He was to co-create with her by explaining aspects of the land at the sites she had chosen for her poems. 

ANTHONY MARTIN: I was delighted to attend an event that involved a synergism of geology and poetry. Having first heard the term "geopoetry" as a graduate student learning about plate tectonic theory, I was intrigued to witness and be part of a gathering that combined place-based poetry and place-based geology.

SITE SPECIFIC POETRY. Marlene Creates stops at this site where a tree was  felled by a hurricane and needed to be cleared from the walk. She became curious about the age of the tree and had a part of the tree from this site analyzed along with some other trees that had also fallen from the storm. The age of this tree (represented by its remaining stump) was 94 years old.
HALLELUJAH: As we stepped single file into this northern forest with its spongy floor mosses, bright green ferns and evergreens, I felt excitement and wonder.

ANTHONY MARTIN: Walking in a boreal forest was a new experience for me. Its undergrowth of mosses and ferns, shadowed by birches and conifers above, provoked comparisons in my mind to temperate forests I had seen in the Southern Hemisphere, such as those of Tasmania or the South Island of New Zealand. But of course, those had completely different plants and animals - tree ferns, for one - a result of different evolutionary paths that diverged more than 250 million years ago. The most remarkable sensation imparted by the forest, though, was it spongy, bouncy feel of its floor, seemingly returning energy with every step.


HALLELUJAH: We were in the forest at a magical alchemical moment--dusk! Because our time was limited by the remaining light of day, our experience of Marlene's words spoken at the altar of nature felt heightened, sacred. Paul Dean added another dimension to our emotional experience by asking us to think logically with him about the lay of the land, how it had formed, and what was underneath it.

ANTHONY MARTIN: I love when the practical and aesthetic, the factual and magical, and the known and imagined merge into one. This was what happened through the combined words of poetry inspired by where we were, and the words of science also inspired by where we were.

20 GUESTS IN THE BOREAL POETRY GARDEN.  Enchanted visitors used walking sticks to navigate along the narrow path in the green forest next to Marlene Creates' house, moving from one site to the next to listen to Marlene's reflections and Paul's geological musings.

TWO-VOICED POEM. Here Marlene Creates is accompanied by Don McKay to help her read the two-voiced poem she wrote expressing her simultaneous but divergent thoughts about this one site.

HALLELUJAH: Marlene took us up and down paths winding through the forest. We used ropes secured to trees to steady our footing. Overhead, once in a while we could hear the leaves rustle in a passing blast of wind. We crossed streams stepping on stones and small wooden bridges. At one site, water gently gurgled near and around us as Marlene and Don read her two-voiced poem. Our senses were enlivened!

ANTHONY MARTIN: Poems can express the sense of beauty and wonderment about a place, and science can augment those feelings by deepening the awe that comes with knowledge of what lies beneath your feet and its long, long history. Paul Dean spoke of a minimum of 600 million years that led to the forest, stones, and stream before us, and of times when volcanoes and Africa contributed to the landscape, encouraging our imaginations to travel back to those times when volcanic ash fell from the sky and basaltic magma flowed across the land.

FROM A GEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE. After Marlene's two-voiced poem, Paul Dean, geologist extraordinaire, explains what a tuff rock is.
COMMUNE WITH THE ROCK. Paul Dean encourages people to engage with the rock, see it up close, and to ask very personal questions. One attendee, following his instructions, fell to her knees almost in prayer!

HALLELUJAH: How extraordinary is it when a geologist tells you that getting to know a rock and understanding it is like beginning a new romantic relationship! Around the fire and before we entered Marlene's Boreal Garden, he had reminded us of the questions that we all ask when we meet someone new who summons our curiosity and gets our heart racing. We use these questions, don't we?:

1. What's your name?
2. Where did you come from?
3. How did you get here?
4. How old are you?

...and then as the relationship progresses, we continue to ask more questions...

5. Is that your true color?
6. What are your faults?
7. Do you mind if I pull out my rock hammer and hit you with it?

ANTHONY MARTIN: The likening of learning more about a rock to finding out more about a love interest made for such a humorous and memorable metaphor, I will have to borrow it in teaching rock identification to my college students, while of course giving full credit to Paul for his clever originality.

BASALT ROCK FACE GREETING US AT DUSK. Our meanderings in Marlene's Boreal Garden concluded at this formidable rock face. Don't you want to ask it some questions? What is your name? Where did you come from? How did you get here?

HALLELUJAH: How often does one stand in place in a forest and look at a rock face at dusk and then over at a fallen boulder on which trees are growing and ponder the connection between the two? Marlene does. Paul Dean knows this connection and answers one of the strolling listener's question, "How do you know that this rock isn't erratic?" with a wonderful alliterative phrase: "Erratic, erotic, exotic." Pause to meditate on that--geologically speaking!

ANTHONY MARTIN: One of the people there asked, "How do you know it isn't an erratic [boulder]?", referring to a boulder on the path next to a towering outcrop of rock (pictured above). Paul explained that both rocks, when cracked open to show a fresh face, revealed they were basalt. Basalt is an igneous rock formed at high temperatures near or on the earth's surface and is composed of iron- and magnesium-bearing minerals, with little quartz. One of the distinctive minerals in this particular quartz, linking the boulder to the outcrop, was epidote, which echoed the green forest around us. Hence the boulder had once been part of the larger outcrop, but erosion (not eros) had caused it to split and fall nearby, and probably not more than a few thousand years before.

An erratic, on the other hand, is a rock that is unlike any other in the bedrock of an area, meaning it got there through means other than local erosion. In this instance, any erratics in the area would have been deposited by glaciers during one of the previous ice ages.

ILLUSTRATIVE VISUALS OF THE ROCK FACE.  The arrival of dusk caused Marlene's guests to turn on their flashlights. Here in an ethereal light, we are examining what basalt looks like. The photos were ghostly apparitions of the basalt looming nearby.

HALLELUJAH: This curious poetic walk in Marlene's Boreal Garden concluded appropriately because it was growing dark.  We ambled back to Marlene's roaring fire and alcoholic spirits having experienced something uniquely hers, given to us through poetic words, a walk at sunset, a geologist's waxings, and nature's whispers and mists.

ANTHONY MARTIN: The walk through the forest and learning about the history of that landscape from Marlene and Paul was already an extraordinary treat. So to follow this with a reading by Don McKay and his geologically-themed poetry made the evening doubly memorable, and a wonderful way to end our too-limited visit to Newfoundland, a land where we found many new thoughts.

DON MCKAY READING FROM PARADOXIDES. The Boreal Garden Poetry concluded in Marlene Creates' garage with Don McKay speaking to us of more things geological. 

HALLELUJAH: Big thanks to to Liam Herringshaw for his imagination, knowledge, and overall love of humankind. We are so fortunate for having met Liam, who was our field guide for the pre-Ichnia field trip along the Avalon Peninsula. During three days of roving around in a yellow school bus and peering into the Precambrian, we discovered that we were kindred spirits. Recognizing this connection, Liam invited us to this poetry event and arranged a ride for us with Don McKay. Liam writes a wonderful blog about Newfoundland: Old Lost Sea. May this be the start of a long and good friendship. 

Thanks also to Don McKay and Marlene Creates for their hospitality, creativity, and love of nature. 

ANTHONY MARTIN: Ditto, only more so.

PAUL DEAN AND LIAM HERRINGSHAW. Paul and Liam (right) stand by the roaring fire before we ventured into the forest. Later, we roasted marshmallows in its warm yellow flames. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


FORTUNE HEAD LIGHTHOUSE. We began our journey to see the "golden spike," which marks the boundary between the Ediacaran and Cambrian periods, at the lighthouse on the Fortune Head Ecological Reserve. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for TRANSITIONS occurring in geological TIME! I view the momentum of change in a positive light, especially when the change is referred to as an EXPLOSION OF LIFE. Our dear field trip guides, Liam Herringshaw and Jack Matthews, guided a group of international ichnologists and me along the coast of the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland, Canada, to see "the most important stratigraphic boundary in Earth history," one that shows rapid change in the abundance and complexity of life.
ON THE WAY TO THE GOLDEN SPIKE. As you can see, we had a beautiful day to walk out to the most important stratigraphic boundary in Earth history! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
DRUM ROLL! HERE IS ONE OF THE SUPERLATIVES OF ICHNOLOGY! Standing on rolling hills of grass above the calm Atlantic Sea, we were able to view the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary Stratotype and Section at Fortune Head. This boundary is certainly one of the MOSTEST! We also watched for passing whales and frolicking seals. (photos by Chiboogamoo (aka Anthony Martin)

POINTING TO THE GOLDEN SPIKE. Jack Matthews points to the magical place in time about 543 million years ago. Environmental conditions changed in a way that permitted LIVING organisms to transform from simple life forms which functioned on the surface of the sea floor, to more complex life forms that could burrow into the sea floor in search of food. These more complex organisms flourished and became abundant. The Cambrian Period thusly earned the descriptive phrase "an explosion of Life."  It is fascinating to think that this transformation represented here took place in a relatively short time frame--geologically speaking!
HARD HATTED CHIBOOGAMOO. My brilliant ichnologist husband, readily awaits his turn to look up close at the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary. Since the ichnologists are standing at a site below rocks, it is a safety measure to wear the hard hats.  (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

WATCHING THE ICHNOLOGISTS FROM ABOVE. I sat above on the hill side and watched the ichnologists who wanted to see the "golden spike" up close and to take photos. Chiboogamoo near the boundary below was kind enough to photograph me watching him (see me on the right side of the photo).

BURROWS JUST ABOVE THE BOUNDARY. In the center of this photo, you can see  Cambrian trace fossils on the under side of a rock bed.
WRINKLE MARKS FROM THE EDIACARAN (fossil photos by Chiboogamoo (aka Anthony Martin)

ICHNOLOGISTS MUST EAT!  After our exploration of the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary at the Fortune Head Ecological Reserve, we tried to find an open grocery store to buy lunch. We were out of luck because on Sunday, this small town of Fortune was closed for business. We found lunch at another stop (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

BEAUTIFUL? LOOK AGAIN...in the not too far distant past, this was the local town dump.  If you look close enough, you can see garbage on the left part of the cliff. How much has washed away? What have the consequences been? Should this garbage be removed? At what cost? (photo by Chiboogamoo (aka Anthony Martin)


Being in Newfoundland, Canada: The Superlative for Ichnologists

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


PALEO ART.  In the Earth Sciences building at Memorial University, spectacular art celebrating fossils greets the curious visitor! (photos by Hallelujah Truth)

HALLELUJAH for BEING and INFINITY. Hallelujah for education, science, and ways of knowing about BEING. Spending concentrated amounts of time with paleontologists is pleasurable and life-informing. Spending time with paleontologists who interpret behavior from the trace fossil record--ICHNOLOGISTS--is even more mind expanding and dazzling!

I, Hallelujah, went with international ichnologists on a JOURNEY in Newfoundland, Canada!  The field guide writers describe our ODYSSEY into the Ediacaran and Cambrian in superlatives--we are going to see "the most important stratigraphic boundary in Earth history"..."the  most important and spectacular Ediacaran  fossil assemblages in the world"...and "the most beautiful coastal areas in Canada"! Hallelujah!

Our first day began at the Earth Sciences building on the campus of Memorial University in St Johns. Paleontologists from Japan, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Poland, the UK, and the United States gathered to greet one another, get field guides, and look at some of the fossils on display. I was pleasantly surprised to see several large pieces of art gracing the lobby walls, celebrating fossil images, science and art merging to amplify one another. We then boarded a yellow school  bus and left St Johns.

CHIBOOGAMOO, MASTERFUL ICHNOLOGIST, AND ME, HALLELUJAH TRUTH.  My brilliant husband and I posed with the yellow school bus in front of our hotel at Grand Bank on the Avalon peninsula of Newfoundland.
Our first field trip stop was at Harbour Main in Conception Bay to see the sediments that express so much information about what occurred in this area hundreds of millions of years ago. We looked at diamictites, laminated mudstones, and slump deposits--all remnants of glaciers and a period of time when the Earth was thought to be encased in ice, a time scientists describe as "Snowball Earth." And, of course, at some point Snowball Earth began to thaw. Melting from its frozen state caused all kinds of things to occur, one of them being the precipitation of limestone. At this Harbour Main stop, we looked at rocks that express this time in the Earth's history, the limestone bed as evidence of the rising temperatures that occurred after an ice infinity.

HARBOUR MAIN. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)  
DIAMICTITES. (photo by Chiboogamoo)
The day's explorations concluded with Grand Bank so we could see some early Cambrian trace fossils (Cambrian and Ediacaran periods to be explained in day 2 of our fieldtrip.). Fortunately, for all of us, the sun came out to brighten our afternoon. We walked to a stone beach  from the Grand Bank Methodist Church parking lot through town,  passing by small cottages whose inhabitants were using the good weather to hang laundry and do yard work. The clouds feathered  out over our heads in an intensely blue sky, as we walked along the cliffs with green meadows extending up and away from us. 

ICHNOLOGISTS IN NEWFOUNDLAND.  Our group paused for this photo before scrambling down the cliff face to find the trace fossils that documented a more complex behavior than those in those in the Ediacaran period. You can see the town of Grand Bank in the background. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)

After a group photo, we climbed down the cliffs to find Treptichnus, a fossil burrowing trace. These tiny marks in the rocks show that at a certain point in time, organisms developed more complex behaviors and began going beneath the surface of the sea floor seeking food.  Chiboogamoo said that this site had many examples of Treptichnus and other trace fossils, and that he was delighted at the abundance. 

READING THE ROCKS. My Chiboogamoo and his German colleague, Dirk, discuss Treptichnus. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
A GLUT OF ICHNOLOGISTS. As the sun sets on our first day of the field trip in Newfoundland,  I watch over (top right, next to sun)  my beloved ichnologists who are earnestly examining the rocks in a deep and meaningful way. Wow! (photo by Chiboogamoo)
TREPTICHNUS. (photo by Chiboogamoo)

I had fun looking for these marks in the rocks jutting out over the beautiful deep blue Atlantic Ocean. The air was cool. The sun was warm. The ichnologists were enthralled. And, I, Hallelujah, learned about some of our earliest origins.Hallelujah for learning about the flow of LIFE, for the Paleontologists that can read the rocks and tell us about the succession of events that brought us into BEING!

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thanks to our wonderful field trip facilitators, Liam Herringshaw (author of the blog, "OLD LOST SEA")and Jack Matthews (author of the blog "Jack J Matthews:Musings geological, political and anything else-ical")! Their knowledgable explanations and kind responses to my questions were greatly appreciated. And, as always, gratitude goes to my boon companion Chiboogamoo.

MOOSE ART AT GOOBIES. Lunch was eaten standing in the rain. Two of us huddled next to the moose art in front of the gas station convenience store to get shielded from some of the drizzle. I'm in the purple jacket, and Tony's colleague from Poland is sitting under the moose. (photo by Chiboogamoo)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


FOR THOMAS WITH LOVE (art by Aunt Hallelujah Truth)

I lost my nephew Thomas one year ago today, and as I approached the anniversary of his death, I started feeling like a dinosaur was sitting on my head. Since I have the tendency to think and feel in visual terms, I accepted this particular image and began drawing it to articulate more of what I was feeling. 

This image that I drew today for Thomas is my fourth image expressing "a dinosaur is sitting on my head." But the hummingbird person represents Thomas, and he has a Dimetrodon sitting on his head, which any paleontologist will tell you is not a dinosaur!

What does this series of images mean? And what about Thomas?

This is what I can tell you. We can imagine and re-imagine ourselves and others. Even though Thomas is not physically here on Mother Earth with us, I can sense his presence in those he has left behind and in my heart.


Hummingbirds know a lot about flowers and how to extract the essence from them. They are fast flyers and can fly backwards, hence becoming a symbol of reflection. Hummingbirds are also playful and independent. Ultimately, these fascinating nectar drinking birds can teach us about how to find the miracle elixirs in our lives.

A Dimetrodon is not a dinosaur even though it is often confused with one. It is more closely related to mammals -- you and me--than a reptile. In this image with the hummingbird, the Dimetrodon has symbolic value because of this confusion of thinking something is one way but finding out it is something altogether different.

So this morning, I spent time with Thomas and his essence and made this image to speak to him about life, both its joys and its confusions. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012


SAN SALVADOR GUARDIAN ANGEL OF THE NURSE SHARK. Barry Johnson painted himself as a guardian angel in the first San Salvador SEA CAMP on the Gerace Research Centre (San Salvador, Bahamas) in 2008. I, Hallelujah Truth (aka Ruth Schowalter) taught the art component of SEA CAMP and took the students step by step in this activity that resulted from my own painting and collaboration with Sandy Voegeli and her photography.(Scanned by Ruth Schowalter and Sandy Voegeli)
Parents, teachers, museum educators, city officials, and community members all ask the same question: 

How can we engage children in learning about SCIENCE so that they are excited, invested, and become dedicated life-long learners! 

Serious environmental issues like global warming, habitat destruction, and the imminent extinction of vast numbers of animal and plants need our children’s attention, for today’s children are the EARTH’S FUTURE CARETAKERS.

Why not make SCIENCE fun and meaningful? Sandy Voegeli, one of the instructors at the annual SEA CAMP taught on the island of San Salvador, Bahamas, does just that! On the last day of July 2012, I interviewed Sandy about some of the CREATIVE SCIENCE ACTIVITIES she has been using at the San Salvador ("San Sal") SEA CAMP.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: How did you go about making SCIENCE interesting to SEA CAMP students?

SANDY VOEGELI: First of all, singing is a huge part of Bahamian culture, so we decided to present a conservation message to the children using song lyrics.  Ron Shaklee, a geography professor and musician who has been coming to San Salvador for more than 25 years, wrote a song for San Salvador’s children. The song, “The Living Jewels of the Land, Sea, and Sky,” includes eight species on San Salvador that are endangered.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: It has a very catchy tune, and the animal characters have rhyming names that make them easy to remember: Myrtle the Sea Turtle, Rupert the Nassau Grouper, Lana the Iguana, etc.

SANDY VOEGELI: Yes, after you hear the song, you remember the conservation message because it sticks in their head. (Sandy sings a phrase) “My name is Myrtle. I’m a sea turtle swimming over the reef. If I can’t lay my eggs on a quiet beach soon there won’t be any more of me…” (Listen to the song below)
HALLELUJAH TRUTH: The song was so popular that its use went beyond the classroom walls of San Salvador, isn’t that right?

SANDY VOEGELI: “Living Jewels of the Land, Sea, and Sky” was recorded by Ira Storr and the Spank Band, a popular Bahamian band, along with some children from San Salvador at Nassau. Afterwards, it was played throughout the Bahamas and became part of The Bahamas National Trust.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: The song’s conservation message about habitat and endangered species was almost like a public service announcement, wasn’t it? And it is a lot of fun to sing along with! What other ways do you make science engaging to the children?

SANDY VOEGELI: At the first SEA CAMP in 2008, we decided to have the children make art to express their connection with their environment, since art isn’t in their school curriculum.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: That’s where you brought me in! I had been inspired by your photographs of the marine life at San Salvador and had begun a series of ENVIRONMENTAL GUARDIAN ANGEL paintings. In these images, I was clothing the GUARDIAN ANGEL in the pattern of the marine life, for example, the spotted eagle ray (see Sandy’s photo and my painting that resulted).

SPOTTED EAGLE RAY.  At the first San Salvador SEA CAMP in 2008, Sandy Voegeli and I made many copies of her photographs to put on the tables in the conference room of the Gerace Research Centre to provide the Sea Campers with real images of animals to look at. In addition to Sandy's photos, we had the children also using the Reef Set, three volumes about the marine life of Florida, Caribbean and Bahamas, by Paul Humann and Ned Deloach. It was exciting to see them looking up habitats for the creatures they were interested in. (photo by Sandy Voegeli)

GUARDIAN ANGEL OF THE SPOTTED EAGLE RAY. I  painted this altar piece to the spotted eagle ray on a 2 x 4 piece of wood. My intention on the bottom part of this painting was to capture the spirit of the beautifully patterned ray that Sandy had photographed and to put it in context of its environment. On the top part of the painting, my intention was to create a sacred space for the Guardian Angel of the spotted eagle ray and to dress her in the same pattern. Sandy loved this idea and thought that we should incorporate this idea into teaching the children of San Salvador to think more about their environment and what role they could play in protecting it.(photo by Ty Butler)
You liked that idea of merging SCIENCE and SPIRITUAL GUARDIANSHIP in a creative product like a painting and thought we could use this as an activity to impact the San Salvador children in the SEA CAMP classroom.

SANDY VOEGELI: So we made this ENVIRONMENTAL GUARDIAN ANGEL project a weeklong project. Sea campers personified themselves by becoming a guardian reef angel protecting a chosen plant or animal of the sea. Each camper became an expert on his or her animal, its habitat, and one thing they could do to protect that animal.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Interesting to combine SCIENTIFIC INSTRUCTION with RELIGION! What role does RELIGION play in the Bahamians’ attitudes towards conservation?

SANDY VOEGELI: Christianity is a foundational part of Bahamian life. Therefore, stewardship of God’s creation is extremely important. An angel was a familiar concept to the kids, and it was empowering for them to envision the role they can play in preserving their environment.
SAN SALVADOR SEA CAMP ART LESSON.  Sea Campers examine and discuss options for drawing their Guardian Angels. Jacq Marie Jack and I, Hallelujah Truth, had prepared these teaching examples in Atlanta, Georgia, before I went to San Salvador.(photo by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter)

HALLELUJAH TRUTH:  Sandy, because you understand the Bahamian culture, you were able to choose both fun and meaningful ways for the San Salvador children to connect with the SCIENCE in their own backyard.

SANDY VOEGELI: You can see that in the following pledge that we facilitators ask the children to say each day of SEA CAMP:

Sea Camp Sea Keepers Pledge

I ___________________, pledge to Protect, Preserve and Conserve the sea and all of its creatures.

I will do all that I can encourage others to protect our marine environment.

I will respect the environment, which God created and do my best to keep it as beautiful as he intended.

SANDY VOEGELI: The pledge provides structure and fosters the idea that we are not separate from our environment, but a part of it. We are stewards of what’s in our backyard. If everybody would take care of his or her own backyard, the whole planet would be vibrant for future generations.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH:  In addition to using songs and fostering stewardship by having the children make environmental guardian angels, what are some other IMAGINATIVE activities you have used to teach SCIENCE in SEA CAMP since 2008?

SANDY VOEGELI: In the following SEA CAMPS, we have used map exercises, Jeopardy, photography, and short films.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Tell me about what you have done with photography.

SANDY VOEGELI: Just this summer (2012), each kid became a nature photographer. They learned photography tips throughout the week, snapped photos on both land and sea, and chose their favorite photo of the week to submit and compete in a photography contest. Because of this activity, each child learned how to look at his or her surroundings with new eyes.
SEEING THEIR BACKYARD WITH NEW EYES.  San Salvador Sea Campers took photos during their week of  studying their environment. (photo taken from BREEF Facebook page)
HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Did any of the Sea Campers’ photos surprise you?

SANDY VOEGELI: Absolutely! The kids took amazing photos and improved their photography skills throughout the week. My personal favorite was one photo taken of the old dock illustrating the compositional rule of thirds they had learned in the classroom and showing interesting colors and textures.
FOLLOWING THE RULE OF THIRDS. This image of the old dock on San Salvador is a favorite of Sandy Voegeli's taken by a San Salvador Sea Camper who used one of the techniques from Sandy's photography PowerPoint lesson. Sandy asks the students to think about the following: 1) What catches your eye (color, shape, texture) 2) What is in your picture (composition) 3) Placement of subject (rule of thirds). In addition, to these tips, she introduces the concept of Fibonacci Numbers, so students get a chance to explore how these numbers appear systematically in nature.
PHOTOGRAPHY WINNERS AT SAN SALVADOR SEA CAMP. Sandy Voegeli,  left, presented the three winners of the SEA CAMP photography contest with prizes.(photo taken from BREEF Facebook page)
HALLELUJAH TRUTH: How did you use film?

SANDY VOEGELI: Last year in SEA CAMP 2011, each SEA CAMP group made a public service announcement about the importance of sharks. Students learned the role that sharks play in the ecosystem and their economic importance for tourism. In the past year, the Bahamas passed legislation to protect all sharks being the global leader in that area.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: So San Salvador Sea Campers were making movies about current conservation issues in the news and learning how to express that information in film. Wow!

SANDY VOEGELI: This year we had the Sea Campers work together to make one public service announcement to promote the establishment of a national land and sea park at San Salvador. They learned about the special animals and their habitats and why they should be protected for future generations.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Sea Campers have had the opportunity to get hands on experience studying these areas that will be protected by a national park—Pigeon Creek, Graham’s Harbour, and Green’s Bay. That’s great. [This public service announcement will be posted when BREEF finishes editing it]

What else do you have in your creative teaching bag for making science fun and meaningful at San Salvador SEA CAMP?

SANDY VOEGELI: I am extremely excited about the book you illustrated about an endangered animal called a hutia-- “The Misadventure of Maria the Hutia.” This book was written by Ron Shaklee and based on the animal characters in his song and beautifully illustrated by you, Hallelujah Truth (aka Ruth Schowalter).
THE MISADVENTURES OF MARIA THE HUTIA. This book was written and illustrated because of Sandy Voegeli's insistence that children needed stories to be told about endangered species in the Bahamas. Therefore, Ron Shaklee's  Living Jewels song grew into an extended story about a little brown furry rodent previously thought to be extinct in the Bahamas but was found to be living on several remote Bahamian cays. As the wife of a scientist (Tony Martin) who does research and teaches classes on San Salvador, I became friends with Sandy and her mission. I agreed to illustrate Ron's book because of my own commitment to educational scientific outreach. We now have it for sale here. We plan for every child on San Salvador to have a copy. In addition, are donating 10 percent of the profits to the nonprofit organization Living Jewels that will support San Salvador's marine park once it is established. (photo by Ron Shaklee)
The need for conservation and sustainability is shown through the animal characters’ plight for survival and provides the Sea Campers with an empathetic glimpse of these special animals. The children become closer to these animals and come to understand we are all part of this planet, and we affect one another.

In addition to reading “The Misadventures of Maria the Hutia,” and coloring images from the book, I can see Sea Campers possibly acting out a play using excerpts from Maria the hutia’s journey.

COLORING THE MAP OF MARIA'S JOURNEY.  Sandy brought some enlargements of my illustrations from The Misadventures of Maria the Hutia for Sea Campers to see and color if they liked while listening to lectures. Here you can see the inset of the island of San Salvador on the map of Maria's journey from Wax Cay up to Nassau and back again. San Salvador is so far out on the Bahamian platform, I couldn't place it on the map with the chain of other Bahamian islands. However, I wanted to be sure San Salvador was on the map because it was the reason for writing and illustrating the story of Maria the hutia.(photo by Sandy Voegeli)
MARIA THE HUTIA ILLUSTRATION. San Salvador Sea Campers pose with an enlarged illustration from The Misadventures of Maria the Hutia outside the conference room on the Gerace Research Centre. They had fun in SEA CAMP coloring it and reflecting on Maria's journey to find her home island, which was not yet destroyed by humans. (photo by Sandy Voegeli)

ABOUT SANDY VOEGELI. Sandy is a dive master, photographer, and teacher. Sharing the incredible underwater world through her photography, she has sold numerous cards of her work, shown in exhibits in Georgia and Montana, and been published cover photos in numerous publications. In January 2012, two of her images appeared in the new Bahamian marine stamp series. Her photos taken from around San Salvador provided inspiration to Ruth Schowalter in the illustrations she made for The Misadventures of Maria the Hutia. Sandy enjoys sharing information with others through teaching whether it be math, yoga, marine conservation, or photography. She recently moved to Carmel Valley in California with her husband Vince, and son Hans. Her daughter Elyse is currently studying through Tufts at the University of Ghana in Africa. 
PHOTOGRAPHER, MASTER DIVER, TEACHER. Sandy Voegeli teaches what she knows how to do. She has a keen eye, sharp mind, and creative way to teach children how to understand the world that surrounds them. (photo by Clare Cottreau)

Read another San Salvador SEA CAMP blog entry that I wrote:
Teaching Children the Science of Looking in Their Own Backyard: Sea Camp at San Salvador, Bahamas 2012

Other Hallelujah Truth blog entries about San Salvador:


April 1, 2012