Archive for News

Francesca Cirafesi

“Air dancer” scarecrows stop birds!

Paul Curtis, an associate professor for the Cornell Department of Natural Resources, and Heidi Heinrichs, a graduate student in the Department of Natural Resources, are working on a project to find economical solutions to keep birds away from fruit orchards. Curtis was inspired by the inflatable scarecrows used near fish farms and car dealerships, and decided to implement the idea into New York fruit orchards. Together, Curtis and Heinrichs are gathering data to see if these “dancing” scarecrows are more effective at driving off birds than other methods.

More information about their project can be found here!




(an “air dancer” scare crow implemented at a fruit orchard)


Stephen Morreale, a Cornell senior research associate and member of the Department of Natural Resources, recently co-authored a study tracking Leatherback turtles throughout the Pacific Ocean. These turtles frequently fall victim to the the fishing hooks used in the Pacific. The information about turtles’ movements obtained from this work can be used to help minimize conflict between turtles and the fishing industry. Researchers hope that by identifying the areas in which turtles are active, fishing can be prevented in those regions.

More information on this topic can be read here!

A new book titled “Trading Zones in Environmental Education” has been released with Marianne Krasny and Justin Dillon as the editors. It features chapters written by Marianne Krasny, Shorna Allred, Rich Stedman, Keith Tidball, and Arjen Wals of the Department of Natural Resources.

To see details and to order a copy of the book, click here.

Book synopsis:

Environmental educators often adhere to a relatively narrow theoretical paradigm focusing on changing attitudes and knowledge, which are assumed to foster pro-environmental behaviors, which, in turn, leads to better environmental quality. This book takes a different approach to trying to understand how environmental education might influence people, their communities, and the environment. The authors view changing environmental behaviors as a «wicked» problem, that is, a problem that does not readily lend itself to solutions using existing disciplinary approaches. The book as a whole opens up new avenues for pursuing environmental education research and practice and thus expands the conversation around environmental education, behaviors, and quality. Through developing transdisciplinary research questions and conceptual paradigms, this book also suggests new practices beyond those currently used in environmental education, natural resources management, and other environmental fields.

Zak Palomino

Schaufler wins at SAF National Convention!

Congratulations are in order! Recently, Cornell’s very own Don Schaufler was one of ten foresters who were awarded with the Presidential Field Forester Award at the 2013 SAF National Convention held in Charleston, South Carolina! Schaufler has been involved with forestry for over 40 years, and has extensively worked as a manager in Cornell’s Arnot Forest by helping improve many acres and support the local economy.

The full story can be read in the attached file below, or in the latest issue of NYFOA’s magazine (New York Forest Owners Association;


Zak Palomino

Scary Dancers!

Thanksgiving may have just passed, but with the prominence of “scary dancers” on the rise, it may start to feel like Halloween!

Mentioned in the Cornell Chronicle and Wall Street Journal, a Web-based survey of fruit growers developed by Cornell’s Human Dimensions Research Unit and administered across California, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Washington revealed a total of close to $200 million in self-reported losses due to bird damage. Furthermore, the study also concluded that various forms of management could total up to $860 million, which led farmers to think outside of the  box when looking at ways to scare off these pesky birds. The result? Utilizing scary dancers; the ones most commonly seen at car dealerships to advertise a sale or grab a customer’s attention.

“My observation is that they worked better than any of the other things that were tested,” said Heidi Henrichs, a Cornell graduate student in the field of natural resources, who has been conducting fieldwork in New York state to assess bird damage to orchards across the country for the past two summers. “The vineyard managers and people who worked around these places said they just didn’t see birds like they normally do when these [figures] are dancing,” she added.

To read more about this “scary” phenomenon, click on the links below!


Congratulations are in order! Cornell’s ForestConnect Program was recently announced as a joint winner, alongside the University of Georgia, of the prestigious 2013 Family Forest Education Award. The award is given to recognize an educational institution that has delivered the most effective education program that benefits non-industrial forestland owners in the United States. Cornell won under the award’s comprehensive category, which recognizes the regional impact the program will have.

More details about the ForrestConnect can be found here:

Zak Palomino

Life at Dr. Tom’s

Recently, Dr. Thomas Gavin of the Department of Natural Resources launched a new website, entitled Dr. Tom’s Natural History. Here’s what he had to say about his new site!

To all students of the natural world:

My hope is that this site will be interesting and useful to aspiring field biologists of all kinds—students of all levels from primary school to university, home-schooled children, and members of the general public who desire to learn more about our natural world.

If you’re interested in visiting his new site, here’s the link:

A new book from the Civic Ecology Lab, Across the Spectrum: Resources for Environmental Educators, is now available online. Chapters are added twice annually, and topics focus on environmental education and learning. The book can be downloaded for free here!

Additionally, anyone interested in contributing a chapter focused on environmental education and learning to Across the Spectrum should contact Marianne Krasny at

Recently, Candice Hilliard and Lilly Briggs have had their reports added to the Civic Ecology Lab website. Their work can be read here on the Civic Ecology Lab web page, or can be accessed directly at the links below.

Candice Hilliard: Urban Environmental Education: Examples from the Denver Metropolitan Area

Lilly Briggs: Conservation in Cities: Linking Citizen Science and Civic Ecology Practices

Community Cloud Forest Conservation (CCFC) is an NGO based in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Its mandate is to help protect the cloud forest, and in keeping with this goal, it leads a Conservation and Agroecology Leadership Training (CALT) program for young Q’eqchi’ Maya women from cloud forest-dependent communities. Lilly Briggs has been collaborating with CCFC in two different capacities throughout 2013. Since the start of the fall semester, she has been conducting research on sense of place and the impacts of environmental education among the CALT program participants and their families. An ongoing collaboration that began prior to the fall has been working with CCFC to expand the reach of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “BirdSleuth-International: Connecting Kids Through Birds” curriculum in Guatemala.

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