Archive for June, 2018

Craigheads Are to Nature What Kennedys Are to Politics

June 27, 2018

A new review of Glorious Times is just in from Kirkus Reviews:

An encyclopedic, multigenerational chronicle examines a family’s extraordinary contributions to wildlife biology, conservation, and nature literature.

What the Kennedys are to politics, the less-famous Craigheads are to nature—a prolific and accomplished clan. Benjey (Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs, 2011, etc.) traces their ancestry to Scottish-Irish immigrants who settled in central Pennsylvania in 1733. In 1868, a railroad bisected the family farm. A great-great grandson built a depot, Craighead Station, and started grain, lumber, and coal businesses. A mansion, still standing by Yellow Breeches Creek, connected generations of Craighead children with flora and fauna. Five siblings, born between 1890 and 1903, graduated from college. Frank Craighead Sr. became a U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist. His brother, Eugene, became a state entomologist for Pennsylvania. Frank’s twins, Frank Jr. and John, gained fame as self-taught teenage falconers. They later studied grizzlies, devised the first radio-tracking collars for large animals, and battled National Park Service bureaucrats over bear management. They wrote the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, authored National Geographic articles, and produced lectures, photographs, books, films, and television programs. Their sister, Jean Craighead George, wrote more than 100 children’s books about animals and nature. Best known are Julie of the Wolves, a Newbery Medal winner, and My Side of the Mountain, a Newbery Honor work made into a movie. Five Craigheads achieved name recognition, but Benjey approaches the family as an ecosystem, deftly covering three dozen members over three centuries. He includes a family tree (indispensable) and a useful index and endnotes. Largely chronological, the book alternates between sections following entire generations through decades and chapters highlighting key individuals or topics. Benjey displays prodigious research skills and enthusiastic storytelling. With extensive family cooperation, he weaves interviews, letters, school yearbooks, family photos, and public records into such detailed scenes that he seems to have been present. He often sounds like a Craighead. Granular details about extended family members occasionally tread close to tedium, but overall, this comprehensive, impressive synthesis of the historical, familial, social, economic, and natural forces that created the famous Craigheads is well-told.

The author skillfully fills a scholarly, historical niche, producing an environmental and biographical work with broad popular appeal.

Don’t forget the Livestream of my interview/talk tomorrow. NCTC will broadcast it at 2:00 p.m. EDT on June 28.

Here is the link to the NCTC’s Livestream site: https://livestream.com/nctc

The broadcast interview will then be archived here for on-demand viewing: https://nctc.fws.gov/resources/knowledge-resources/video-gallery/conservation-action.html

Here’s the description they have posted on their broadcast webpage: https://nctc.fws.gov/broadcasts

 

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A Chance to See Me Interviewed

June 24, 2018

On Thursday, I drove down to Shepherdstown, West Virginia to the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) where, as part of the Craighead House contingent, I attended the Balancing Nature and Commerce workshop held by the Conservation Fund nearly a year and a half ago. Returning to this beautiful rustic campus that honors the Craigheads so prominently in their great hall was a delight.

One morning on the last trip, the Craighead group met for breakfast with Mark Madison, Fish and Wildlife Service Historian, to discuss ways in which they could support Craighead House. This meeting led to Mark having four window-size foamboards made to help tell the Craighead story, initially at the Craighead 80/85 Anniversary Celebration last September and permanently as static displays in windows easily viewed from the porch facing the parking lot.

This time I wasn’t coming as a student as on the first trip. Mark invited me to be interviewed in their television studio. Since I had already prepared a PowerPoint presentation that I use to accompany in-person talks, I brought that along. He liked the title page so well that he used it as the title screen for the broadcast.

The NCTC doesn’t normally broadcast live, probably because a little editing is often needed to fit the taped sessions into their timeslots. Mine is no different. It will be broadcast at 2:00 p.m. EDT on June 28—this coming Thursday. It will remain on their site for some time, after which it will be available from their archive.

Here is the link to the NCTC’s Livestream site: https://livestream.com/nctc

The broadcast interview will then be archived here for on-demand viewing: https://nctc.fws.gov/resources/knowledge-resources/video-gallery/conservation-action.html

Here’s the description they have posted on their broadcast webpage: https://nctc.fws.gov/broadcasts

 

Title page

 

 

My Evening with Tim Tebow

June 7, 2018

Upon hearing that Tim Tebow had been assigned to play for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies AA minor league team, I thought there was a chance he would come to Harrisburg to play against the Senators. Looking up the Senators’ schedule told me they would be coming to town June 5-7. Wanting to attend the game, I contacted a friend, the local undertaker and lifelong Phillies fan who frequently goes to Senators’ games to see if he would want to see Tebow. He was most definitely up for it, but which game should we go see?

I ruled out June 7 because it was a day game and I didn’t want to fry in the hot sun in the bleachers. We picked the evening of the 6th for reasons lost to memory. When thunderstorms were forecast—and experienced—we patted ourselves on the back for having made a wise decision.

However, the game was played and Tebow went one for four with an RBI single, a run scored and a put out at third base with a good throw from his position in left field. Not a record day by any means but a respectable performance. Word has it that he happily signed autographs before the game.

Wednesday the 6th started overcast, with a spritz of rain in the morning, but cleared in the afternoon suggesting a clear coolish evening, a great night to watch a baseball game. We started early to have time to eat at the ballpark before the start of the 6:30 game. On the way to pick up our friends, we saw that traffic on I-81 North (the direction to Harrisburg) was backed up for miles. Seeing that taking an alternate route was necessary, we took back roads and found that a tractor-trailer accident (an all-too-frequent occurrence on I-81) blocked traffic just before the Miracle Mile interchange. We zipped over to the Miracle Mile and got on the interstate, finally making good time with the light traffic. Things went well until the last mile.

The Senators play on an island in the middle of the Susquehanna, with bridges bringing in traffic from both sides of the river. Traffic was backed up for a good half mile before the bridge and another half mile on it. We watched clock as we inched forward to the parking lot entrance. We arrived there with just enough time to park and walk to our seats before the game started.

We were shocked to see an attendant holding a parking lot full sign. He handed us a map to a parking garage a good mile away off the island in the city of Harrisburg. My friend was unable to walk such a distance, so I drove around city streets seeking a close enough place to park but found none. His wife spotted a good restaurant and suggested that we eat there. We did.

After a leisurely meal—kitchen staff appeared to take a break while preparing our orders—we got back in the car to head home. My friend suggested we try to find the broadcast of the game on the radio. A not long search across the AM band landed on what was clearly a baseball game and the announcer was certainly not ready for the big leagues. Eventually, he mentioned the Senators, so we knew we had the right game.

As we drove, we heard the last part of the home half of the 7th inning. Binghamton led 1-0. In the top of the 8th, with Rumble Ponies on 2nd and 3rd, the Binghamton pitcher came up the bat. Tim Tebow was announced as a pinch hitter. We felt a lot better because we had missed little of what we wanted to see because he wasn’t in the game until that point. With 1st base open, the pitcher probably didn’t risk giving him anything good to hit. After three fouls on a 3-2 count the pitcher walked him. The next batter up hit an RBI single, moving Tebow to 2nd base. A later play moved him to 3rd. When the Binghamton left fielder hit a fly ball to the warning track, Tebow raced home.

We waited to see if he was part of a double switch and would remain in the game. He wasn’t.

So, instead of sitting in our seats grumbling for 8 innings because Tebow wasn’t in the game, we enjoyed a nice meal and a happier drive home.

City Island parking