A course in wrong-ology

Published 10:11 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2018

By Susan and Biff Andrews

Folks who are interested in the natural world study a lot of “ologies”; biology, ornithology, geology, meteorology and so on. We are very enthusiastic about them. We have written about projects which study bugs and birds, plants and animals in articles about the Master Naturalist program, encouraging people to get involved and help the environment. We recently published an article about our recruiting efforts for new members in which we gave a long and scholarly list of all the “ologies” one might study as a prospective Master Naturalist, and in our enthusiasm for “ologies” we had a little adventure.

So there we were, enthusiastically paddling our canoe down the long and sometimes treacherous stream of thought when the canoe tipped and we went overboard with our list. While our minds were adrift with ologies, archeology floated by and in the chaos of the moment seized the opportunity to attach itself to our list like some non-native invasive species.

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Archeology is indeed an interesting subject, although not one that is or has ever been taught in our Master Naturalist course of study. So we are taking this opportunity to right the canoe and write about our “wrong-ology” so nobody will be disappointed if that’s the particular “ology” they were looking to study. We sincerely hope everyone will accept our apology for mixing up our “ologies.”

One of our greatest concerns in writing these articles is giving out misinformation, as we are far from expert in any of this stuff. We just like being out in nature and sharing our experiences with our friends and neighbors. We are in complete awe of every new experience when out in the field, and we are curious about all of it. Sometimes, this curiosity takes us out into some pretty deep water, and not just in our research. But we have a lot of support from our fellow Master Naturalists, and so will you if you are thinking about joining us.

We don’t want to scare anybody off with all the ologies, because we don’t want folks to think all we do is sit in a classroom, although that is part of the learning process. We take lots of interesting field trips with wonderful folks who are actual experts in their particular fields of studies. They volunteer their valuable time to teach the classes and lead the field trips.

There is also a lot of fellowship involved as we collect data, maintain trails, identify birds, plants and insects, and find fossils and count baby bluebirds and in general become better stewards of our little part of the natural world. Somewhere among all those “ologies” we enjoy being together, picking each other’s brains, sharing our joys and challenges and sometimes enjoying some really delicious food.

To read the official list of “ologies” offered by the Virginia Master Naturalists, and to fill out an application, visit the website vmnhistoricsouthside.org.

Hopefully you will find an “ology’ that floats your canoe.

Susan and Bradford “Biff” Andrews are retired teachers and master naturalists who have been outdoor people all their lives, exploring and enjoying the woods, swamps, rivers and beaches throughout the region for many years. Email them at b.andrews22@live.com.