Photos of the Week – January 22, 2021

One of the few silver linings of the global pandemic has been that I’ve had the opportunity to talk to more groups in more places than would ordinarily be logistically feasible. A few upcoming talks are at events that are open to broad audiences, so I thought I’d share those here in case anyone is interested. My talks, of course, will be fabulous, but I’d encourage you to also look at the full agendas of the conferences/workshops that are hosting me – there are a lot of great talks and interesting topics being covered.

Upcoming talks:

January 27, 1 PM. Topic: Growing a larger constituency for conservation. Kansas Natural Resources Conference, See more information and register here.

January 28, 7 PM. Topic: All the Little Things (how plants and invertebrates play critical roles in ecosystems). Prospect Heights Natural Resources Commission‘s Nature Speaks Program. See more here.

February 24 (evening). Topic: All the Little Things (how plants and invertebrates play critical roles in ecosystems). Annual Conference of The Prairie Enthusiasts. Conference website here.

February 26 (afternoon). Topic: Photography workshop. Annual Conference of The Prairie Enthusiasts. Conference website here.

March 4. Topic: Managing for Diverse Prairie Habitats with Fire and Grazing. Best Practices for Pollinators Annual Summit. See the summit’s website here.


Today’s photos were all taken in late December and early January. I just haven’t had a chance to post them since then. Most of January has been a pretty dry month for photography – both from a weather standpoint and in terms of my own inspiration and energy. I’m hoping to boost my motivation a little this coming week, and a forecast that includes snow might help with that. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Indiangrass and snow at Lincoln Creek Prairie. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, 1/60 sec at f/18.
Water boatman encased in ice at the wetland in our family prairie. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, 1/100 sec at f/20.
Central Platte River with ice and snow at The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies. DJI Mavic Zoom drone. 4.5mm lens. ISO 100, 1/400 sec at f/2.8.
Beggarsticks seed head along a wetland at The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, 1/250 sec at f/13.
Maximilian sunflower seed head in a snow window at Lincoln Creek Prairie. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, 1/320 sec at f/14.
Wild bergamot in frosty morning prairie at our familiy prairie. Tokina 11-20mm lens at 11mm. ISO 320, 1/320 sec at f/22.
Dotted gayfeather seeds and frost at our family prairie. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, 1/320 sec at f/20.

Prairie Origami – Sort Of

Given what’s happening in the country right now, this doesn’t seem like the right time for my previously-planned post on the importance of drawing people into conservation. There will be time for that after we get through this week and its various issues. Instead, I thought I’d present an activity that might help distract you from some of those issues, including the 762,000 pounds of Hot Pockets recalled because of potential glass and plastic contamination. We’ll get through this together.

I have spent multiple hours honing my paper crafting skills, and have gradually developed a style I call ‘dad origami’. I want to be clear that my origami style is based only very loosely on the ancient art of Origami, which I believe was developed by Fernando Origami sometime in the 1840’s. If anyone from the Origami family is reading this, I have nothing but respect for your family’s art. This is not that.

Anyway. If you’re looking for something to keep your mind off of scandals, including what was on Amanda’s desk on Law and Order: SVU, here are some simple – and hopefully, entertaining – directions describing how to make your own prairie creation out of paper. Enjoy.

Start with a rectangular piece of paper. DO NOT USE SQUARE PAPER – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
Fold one corner over to the far edge of the paper. This is the most important fold of the entire project.
Make another fold as shown here. Then open that fold back up.
Grab some origami scissors (if you don’t have origami scissors, I guess you can use other kinds but I can’t guarantee results). Cut carefully along the last fold you made. Feel free to include a few small jagged edges for style.
Make several more folds, including at least one that you fold and then open back up for no apparent reason. This is very important.
Make a couple more folds. These are the most important folds in the entire project, so take your time on these.
Unfold the fold on the left end and then make two more folds, pretending that this was part of the plan from the beginning.
Turn the paper over. Try to hide your surprise that it actually looks a little bit like an insect.
Now, take the strip you cut off at the beginning of the project and dig it out of the recycling bin, just as you intended all along. With your origami scissors, cut the strip into 6 smaller rectangular strips. As before, feel free to add small jagged edges for style.
Fold each of those small strips into thirds, lengthwise.
Fold each of those folded strips so they don’t look so straight and boring.
Using origami tape, affix each of the strips to the bottom of the folded creation you’ve made. (If you don’t have origami tape, other tapes may also work, but it might affect the quality of the final product.)
Turn the paper over again and admire what you absolutely had envisioned before starting.
Using origami crayons (I really do have to insist that you use actual origami crayons for this step), add the final details.

And that, folks, is how you make a large milkweed bug out of paper. You’re welcome, and enjoy your week.

Here’s the same set of instructions in video format, in case you like that easier: