George Myers Naturalist – 2021

Hello from CMBO! I, Will Kaselow, am taking this opportunity to introduce myself as the 2021 George Myers Naturalist and give an idea of how I see this position as well as how it has been going so far. 

To recap my first month in Cape May is a difficult task because the job, like Cape May, is highly dynamic (as I’m writing this, I have one eye open for any potential Swallow-tailed Kites riding these 20mph west-northwest winds). With myriad tasks and methods that can be hard to pin down, this first month has been a unique challenge; a challenge that characterizes most environmental non-profit work, and one that I am slowly but surely adjusting to.   

To me, the goal of anyone in environmental outreach is to combine science and education with the purpose of inflaming passions and mobilizing people for the betterment of the environment. This goal is lofty, loosely defined, and one of the central challenges for advocates everywhere. The way I see it, a naturalist should seek to take a fluid position along the continuums of personality and interest in order to reach the most people. A naturalist needs to be adaptable; a generalist in ecological terms and a people person in social terms. Luckily for us, the subjects of our programs are their own best ambassadors. 

A Fiery Skipper fuels up on New England Aster (photo © Will Kaselow).

Here in the mid-Atlantic, as we race into a fairly long growing season, it will be our job to pull representatives from the “green veil” of sensory overload that our forests will soon become. Plucking individual bricks from a wall, giving them a name, and explaining their place can be enough to expose the different shades of green and break the facade of homogeneity that many see. In this way, language is our greatest tool as educators; to learn a name is to give a formerly anonymous creature character and charm. Likewise, this nugget of information can give a participant comfort in familiarity and pride in knowledge; people love a fun fact. 

An American Redstart takes off from its perch (photo © Will Kaselow).

Where I stand to learn the most as the George Myers Naturalist is in community building and coordination, and Cape May seems to be a perfect incubator for this type of growth. I am fortunate to come into a well-established and welcoming community of passionate people that CMBO has been cultivating for years. I look forward to working with many of you who are reading this and hope that I can make your Cape May experience a little bit better. 

-Will Kaselow