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Master Conservationist Prorgrams

Ecological Principles and Techniques

We asked fellow Iowans who have experience in the fields of natural resources, either as professionals or amateurs, to contribute an essay related to one of the main Iowa Master Conservationist Program topics. The following essay was contributed by Dan Cohen. Dan is the Buchanan County Conservation Board Director. He has had many years experience as a naturalist with Buchanan County.

The ecological connections in our daily lives

Relationships, connections, thoughtfulness, respect, and caring are all parts of the understanding of ecology that manifests itself in our daily lives.  Just as wild species live in a constant relationship with one another, so too people have a constant relationship with the elements of nature that surround them.  Although nature provides the model, people are connected into this model.  Indeed, it is the understanding of this connection that defines an “educated” citizen of the environment.  Through this education, people are driven to think carefully about their actions and impacts on the elements and life that sustains us all.  The relationships that connect us to the environment require respect and caring.  As the dominant species in the ecological web, and the one that can reflect upon its actions and develop strategies, respect and care become imperative.  In the words of author Wendell Berry:

“A culture that does not measure itself by nature, by an understanding of its debts to nature, becomes destructive of nature, and thus of itself”