It’s Not Too Hot To Make a Difference

The heat of the sun feels like it’s roasting your skin.  According to the residents, its been a bizarre year for the Portland area with dryer winters and so far a scorching hot summer. A fellow co-worker, Dhara, who has grown up in Portland explains that this weather is strange indeed. She told me that normally it rains through June, and the 90 degree weather doesn’t hit until maybe late July. Although it is very uncomfortable to be out in this weather, the heat won’t stop me from leading field trips nor will it deter me from continuing to explore the wildlife at the refuge. The best I can do is prepare for it!

Although it is hot, I have found it very helpful to wear a loose fresh long- sleeved shirt. This keeps the sun off my arms and shoulders, which keeps me cooler than not having it on. A hat is the next most important thing on the list. It doesn’t matter if it’s a baseball cap or a bucket hat, as long as it keeps the head cool and the sun our of your eyes. Last but definitely not least don’t forget to slather that sun screen on! And done. This is how I prepare for walks on the refuge.

The number of field trips have definitely decreased since the May rush, but I have recently discovered that the groups that come to explore the refuge in the summer are the groups that need it the most. Last week Brenda and I led a group of children from the Good Neighbor Center. The Good Neighbor Center is an organization that helps house and feed needy families. While the children’s parents are busy searching for ways to improve their family’s lives, the children are taken out on fun and educational field trips. One of these field trips was a guided walk to the refuge.

As I guided the children through the oak savanna, sweat dripped off my chin and down my back. If I felt hot and tired I can only imagine what our little visitors felt like. Sure enough they pushed through it and successfully finished the walk. A few amazing things happened during this short walk; we watched in awe as a bullfrog snatched up a chorus frog, a small child combated her fear of bugs, and we all learned about the “potatoes” hanging from the oaks in the oak savanna. I walked away from that trip with not only a burning on my skin, but in my heart as well.

Liliana Calderon
lcalde4@illinois.edu
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