Salmonid Field Trip

Devil's Gulch

Devil’s Gulch

Restoration Ecology’s final field trip of the Fall, 2016 semester was a wonderful adventure in the redwoods, looking at restoration projects aimed at restoring habitat for salmonid fishes, including chinook and coho salmon. Our hosts for the day were Sarah Phillips of the Marin Resource Conservation Department (RCD), Erik Young, a lawyer affiliated with Trout Unlimited, and Eric Ettlinger of the Marin Water District. Each of them shared with us a different perspective on the creek, and how restoration projects happen.

You can read the rest of this story on my personal blog, Teacup Rex:  https://www.teacuprex.com/2016/11/18/salmonid-field-trip/

Writing a Successful Blog Post

Writing a Successful Blog Post

Wendy St. John with a western pond turtle at her Lake County, California, field site. Photo courtesy of W. St. John

Wendy St. John with a western pond turtle at her Lake County, California, field site. Photo © W. St. John.

As we’ll all be adding to this blog over the course of the semester, I thought I’d start the ball rolling with a post about how to write posts. Mostly, it’s just what you (probably) expect – you’ll be writing about what happened during a field trip or event, and posting some pictures. There are, however, a few guidelines we’d like you to follow.

Consistent formatting – Especially since many people will be posting to this one blog, it’s important that we maintain some stylistic continuity. For that reason, we’re going to ask that we all use one consistent format for our posts:

  • Begin with an introductory paragraph that includes information about who, where, and when. Then, details can go in subsequent paragraphs
  • Use the default font and font size
  • Include a caption and photo credit with all photos (you can learn how to insert the copyright symbol at this website)
  • Textwrap, as I’ve done with the picture of myself at right, or center photos (see below). Don’t have them off by themselves merely left- or right-justified
  • Photographs can be included one at a time (as I’ve done throughout this post), or presented together as a photo gallery (I’ve created a small sample gallery at the very bottom of this post)
  • Use bold text for section headings if required (rather than italics)
  • Bullet points are great – again, just use the default style
  • Use tags to help keep things organized. At a minimum, please tag the location (e.g. Point Reyes, Copeland Creek), and type of post (e.g. Field Trip, Project Group). Then add a few other tags related to the activity in question. For example, we’ll probably want to tag our posts from Point Reyes with “tule elk,” “exclosures,” and “sampling techniques.”
This is an appropriately formatted photo of a Wilson’s Warbler that was seen along Copeland Creek on the Sonoma State University campus, Rohnert Park, California, in 2010. Photo © W. St. John

This is an appropriately formatted photo of a Wilson’s Warbler that was seen along Copeland Creek on the Sonoma State University campus, Rohnert Park, California, in 2010. Photo © W. St. John

Now, onto some of the more “intangible” aspects of blogging.

Blog posts fill a somewhat unique niche. This is a medium where the author has a great deal of control over the exact content that is published (which is unusual when compared to traditional print media). On the one hand, this is great! Total control! On the other hand, it often means that there is no editor looking over your shoulder to make suggestions that might improve the quality of the content that is being posted.

Never fear – even without an editor your posts can shine. Here are a few general tips that can enhance your blog posts, and make them more engaging for readers.

Use a conversational tone – This is a professional blog, so keep that in mind, but at the same time blogs work best when the tone of the writing isn’t too formal. A conversational tone is good – even a bit of slang here and there is acceptable. You want readers to feel as though they’re hearing you tell a story, rather than reading a dry narrative.

Avoid the “wall of text” – along with tone, it’s good to keep your writing in a format that is easy to read. Paragraphs of no more than two to three sentences are much more readable than the dreaded wall of text:

No one wants to read a post that looks like this. Break up your text into easily digestible chunks. Image © W. St. John

No one wants to read a post that looks like this. Break up your text into easily digestible chunks. Photographs are also a great way to break things up for your readers. Image © W. St. John

Be bold – Bolding things for emphasis is a great idea. It makes it easy for readers to quickly grasp the most important parts of your post.

Last, but not least . . .

Publicize – Please feel free to share your posts on other social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr – wherever you typically “hand out” here on the internet.

These are just a few ideas to help you get started. If you have questions about how to format your posts, please feel free to contact me, and I’ll do my best to help. I’m also more than happy to take a look at your posts before they’re submitted. Just let me know when you have a completed draft, and I’ll be happy to take a look.

Here’s a sample photo gallery of wildlife found in or around Copeland Creek: