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Wendy Wendlandt
Acting President, Environment America; Senior Vice President and Political Director, The Public Interest Network

Author: Wendy Wendlandt

Acting President, Environment America; Senior Vice President and Political Director, The Public Interest Network

(213) 251-3680 ext. 311

Started on staff: 1984
B.A., Whitman College

Wendy Wendlandt is acting president of Environment America and a senior vice president and political director for The Public Interest Network. Wendy started with WashPIRG, the Washington Public Interest Research Group, where she led campaigns to stop the nation’s first high-level nuclear waste dump site and win Initiative 97, which created the state’s model toxic waste cleanup program. She is a founding board member of Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizers, and the Green Century Funds, the nation’s first family of fossil fuel free mutual funds. As political director, she manages both the non-partisan and partisan electoral programs of Environment America Action Fund and Environment America Voter Action She also serves on the board of directors of America Votes, the coordination hub of the progressive community. Wendy is a 1983 graduate of Whitman College. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband and their dog, and hikes wherever she can whenever she can.

As many people across the country are spending more time at home and in their neighborhoods due to stay-at-home orders and the closure of cherished outdoor spaces, it’s a great time to develop a deeper appreciation for all of the nature close to home. Taking a socially-distanced walk around your neighborhood is a great way to get out of the house, stretch your legs, and see some of the wonder of the natural world in your own backyard. Here is a list of 10 ways to appreciate nature on a walk around your neighborhood.  

  1. Identify a plant you don’t know

Find a cool-looking (or boring-looking!) plant on your neighborhood walk that you can’t identify, and try and figure out what it is. This website has a question-by-question approach to narrow down and identify your mystery plant, and PlantSnap and PlantNet have apps that are intended to help identify plants and flowers via photograph. 

  1. Listen for bird calls

A telltale sign of the advent of spring is birds chirping. On your walk, see how many distinct types of bird you can distinguish by their calls, and how many of those you can particularly identify. If you have a bird call stuck in your head and you have to know who it’s from, check out Audubon’s field guide for recordings of calls from North American birds. If you’re really hooked, you can follow Audubon’s 8-part guide to birding by ear. 

  1. Draw a tree that you find

Pick out your favorite tree on your walk and draw it! Pen, coloring pencil, watercolors, crayon, whatever works best for you. Bonus points for drawing a tree so well that someone else not on the walk with you can identify it. 

  1. Find evidence of an animal’s home

Animals in urban areas have homes too! See if you can spot a squirrel or bird’s nest, a rodent’s burrow, a beehive, an anthill, or other animal domicile. Half credit for human-made animal homes like bee hotels or birdhouses (unless you made said home, in which case full credit). 

  1. Collect leaves for a leaf rubbing

If you spot a leaf on the ground or a broken-off branch with some pine needles on it, consider bringing it home to make a leaf rubbing image. Leaf rubbing is easy, quick, and requires only a leaf, two pieces of white paper, and a crayon or colored pencil. Leaf rubbing works great with large, flat leaves like those found in the Northeast, but you can try it with any leaf of any kind you find in your neighborhood. Be sure not to take leaves off of any living plants!

  1. Photo of a flower

This one is pretty simple: take a photo of the prettiest or most interesting flower you can find on your walk. 

  1. Find a plant with berries or fruit

The advent of spring (and summer) brings out berries in many plants, trying to distribute their seeds far and wide. If you keep a close eye out, you may be able to find a plant with berries or fruit already out. Rhubarb and strawberry are two plants that tend to generate their bounty earlier on, but there’s a huge variety of fruits and berries out there to observe. 

  1. Find evidence of an animal: tracks, scat

While on your walk, try and find evidence of an animal you didn’t actually see. This might be a set of tracks in the sand or scat on the ground,  or maybe some flattened grass or broken branches if you’re truly an expert tracker. 

  1. Identify a bird you don’t know

Some birds are easier identified by their distinctive calls and songs, but many others can be distinguished by sight. Audubon’s field guide is a great resource for visually identifying specific bird species, and a simple set of observations about the birds you see (shape, size, habitat, behavior etc) can go a long way towards narrowing down which group and species your mystery avian friends belong to.  

  1. Bud that has not blossomed

One of the best parts about having consistent time outdoors in your neighborhood throughout the spring is the chance to observe changes in nature in your own backyard. On your walk, keep an eye out for a plant bud that has not blossomed into a flower, and keep track of how much time passes before it does. 

 

Share photos and stories from your neighborhood walks with us on social media! Tag us on twitter @EnvAm, Facebook at Environment America or Instagram @EnviroAm, or use the hashtags #NatureInTheNeighborhood and #GreenerTogether.

Wendy Wendlandt
Acting President, Environment America; Senior Vice President and Political Director, The Public Interest Network

Author: Wendy Wendlandt

Acting President, Environment America; Senior Vice President and Political Director, The Public Interest Network

(213) 251-3680 ext. 311

Started on staff: 1984
B.A., Whitman College

Wendy Wendlandt is acting president of Environment America and a senior vice president and political director for The Public Interest Network. Wendy started with WashPIRG, the Washington Public Interest Research Group, where she led campaigns to stop the nation’s first high-level nuclear waste dump site and win Initiative 97, which created the state’s model toxic waste cleanup program. She is a founding board member of Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizers, and the Green Century Funds, the nation’s first family of fossil fuel free mutual funds. As political director, she manages both the non-partisan and partisan electoral programs of Environment America Action Fund and Environment America Voter Action She also serves on the board of directors of America Votes, the coordination hub of the progressive community. Wendy is a 1983 graduate of Whitman College. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband and their dog, and hikes wherever she can whenever she can.