Meet Your Neighbors

Thanks to Mark Godfrey (The Nature Conservancy) for alerting me to this project.

One of the things I try to do with my photography is show people creatures and plants that they might otherwise never notice.  I love hearing people say things like, “I had NO IDEA something like that lived near me!” when I’m giving presentations.  Of course, real success comes when I can inspire those same people to go out and make their own discoveries.  It’s hard to dismiss conservation as unimportant when you’ve actually met the species that hang in the balance. 

The “Meet Your Neighbors” project looks like a kindred spirit.  The project celebrates common species from around the world through portrait-style photographs.  They’re working with numerous photographers to capture images of these species in front of a plain white background that causes the viewer to really examine and appreciate the physical attributes of each species. 

Tree Hopper - Aurora, Nebraska. Although I normally like to photograph insects in their natural environment, I've played around with the kind of studio/white background format used by the "Meet Your Neighbors" project. The power of the format is that it forces the viewer to really pay attention to the creature itself - which is plenty beautiful.

You might wonder why the project doesn’t highlight rare species instead of common species.  There’s obvious value in showcasing rare species to get people tuned in to their plight.  But I also think it’s powerful to show people the species that are (literally) right in their backyard.  Those are the species most of us will actually be able to meet in person, and which can catalyze an interest in nature and conservation.  I think it’s a fantastic idea and a well-organized effort.  I wish them all success.

Please visit their website to learn more about the project.

http://www.meetyourneighbours.org/project.html

Larva of a Green June Beetle. This big white grub crawls around on its back with its legs sticking up in the air - which is not only very cool, but also the distinguishing characteristic that separates it from other beetle larvae. Thanks to Ted MacRae for identification and natural history information.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is an ecologist and Eastern Nebraska Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. He supervises the management and restoration of approximately 4,000 acres of land in central and eastern Nebraska - primarily along the central Platte River. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press.
This entry was posted in General, Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Meet Your Neighbors

  1. Mark Godfrey says:

    Chris, thanks for this – I think the Meet Your Neighbors project is a wonderful way to involve people in the natural world that is just outside their backdoor.

  2. Clay Bolt says:

    Chris, Mark shared your blog and your blog post with me. I sincerely appreciate your coverage of the project and glad to hear of another person who cares about their local wildlife as much as I do. Like you, I’ve spent most of my time photographing wildlife in its natural environment but there is something intriguing about this technique, which definitely appeals to me.

    Mark may have shared this with you, but if not, thought you might like to read it: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/compound-eye/2011/10/24/meet-your-neighbours-clay-bolt-talks-about-his-conservation-photography-initiative/

    Good luck with your work on the Prairie and let me know if you would ever be interested in participating with the project.

    My best,
    Clay

    • Chris Helzer says:

      You’re very welcome – I love the project. I look forward to hearing more about it as it rolls along.
      I’ve got enough going on to keep me busy at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I won’t participate down the road.
      Chris

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