The capstone! It is complete! To be honest, I’ll probably keep working at it after I graduate because a couple of my subjects dropped out last minute and I’d like to expand the project a bit more.
I chose to do a photo essay, which is new territory for me, but I think as a first attempt I’ve done alright. I was particularly worried about cohesiveness because being disjointed is usually what causes photo essays to fail. It’s hard when you have many subjects and many locations to get the images to blend together naturally but still be unique. It’s a balance I struggled with, but I tried to keep it simple using shapes and framing to keep the essay from derailing.
To really tell the story I decided to include extended captions. My essay was about people who still enjoy the outdoors, either in work situations or hobbies, even in the modern age when there are more and more gadgets to distract people from exploring nature. I interviewed each subject to get a sense of why they enjoyed the outdoors so much, how they came to understand this passion, and how it has changed their lives. A few of my subjects also commented on the changing global landscape and how they think less time spent outdoors will affect future generations.
Susan Hazelwood has been birding since 1980. Susan explained the difference between bird watching and birding is that birders have more expertise on the birds whereas bird watchers just appreciate looks. She wears the title Birder with the utmost respect. But birding wasn’t always a great interest of hers, “Birding was something my husband did. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away, so here I am!” Susan could only avoid it for so long; eventually the lure of travel and being outdoors convinced her to take it up as a hobby of her own. The farthest she’s traveled is Alaska, but she likes to go on many birding vacations with other birders around the United States. Her favorite bird is a Trogon, found in the southwest, which she proudly displays it on her license plate.
Ducks fly after being startled at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area in McBaine, Mo. Eagle Bluffs is a destination for
migaratory waterfowl birds, such as ducks and geese. There are many reasons why ducks and other birds form
flocks. Being in a flock allows the birds extra protection, easier foraging, and better aerodynamic efficiency while
they fly. Ducks also form family units and like staying together.
Susan Hazelwood with her trusty binoculars.
Deb Schultehenrich is a quail, pheasant, and duck hunter. Always trailing behind her is her dog, Gus, a German Shorthair pointer. Her family passed the hunting enthusiasm on to her at a young age. “Hunting is something I have always done,” says Deb. But her passion for the outdoors goes beyond hunting birds. “I like the fact that every time you go outdoors you experience something different than the last time you were outdoors,” says Deb. “Maybe there’s a turkey gobbling, or the first Dutchman’s Breeches are blooming, or the prairies have turned bright gold, or the snow is piled high on the cedar trees, or maybe it’s just the smell of fresh hay being cut. It’s the place I am most comfortable.” Deb’s noticed a decrease in environmental enthusiasm in the community however. “I am concerned this lack of interest in participating in outdoor activities is having an affect on the public’s relationship with the environment,” says Deb. “This disconnect with the natural environment makes them less likely to advocate for environmental causes or public land acquisition and protection.” Deb attributes this decrease in interest with the changing global landscape. Fewer and fewer people are growing up on ranches or farms, and therefore have less association with the land than people have had in the past.
Bradford Farm is a part of MU Extension that conducts research in agricultural and wildlife studies. They also offer educational opportunities to the community about how to manage their crops and land, and how to be as sustainable as possible. Tim Reinbott is the superintendent of Bradford Farm, and wants to help educate the public as much as possible about incorporating wildlife into their agriculture. Tim came from an outdoorsy family with a father who taught him to appreciate the outdoors for what it is: our livelihood as citizens of the planet. Reinbott says he’d like to encourage farmers and landowners to be more accepting of wildlife and plant more diversified crops and grasses so that they offer better protection for certain kinds of wildlife that aren’t damaging to their land. “Wildlife is much more than pests to farmers,” says Reinbott. He thinks the best way to share this with the community is to hold workshops at the farm, particularly with 4-H clubs and their families.
Virgil decided from a young age that being outside and fishing was what he wanted to do with his life. It was almost everyone’s way of life in his rural, farming community. But with age came more complications and distractions. “I went through the stages of schooling, and kind of forgot what fishing was about. Then came an opportunity for me to go fishing with mentors
along the way,” says Virgil. His father died when he was six, so he had to find other adult figures to take him fishing. As an adult, Virgil would take friends fishing, and one of them suggested making a business out of it. Virgil then became a fishing guide and outfitter, traveling through Canada and Alaska with small groups. His business eventually led to him traveling abroad, which he thanks fishing for every time he goes. But what really matters to Virgil is camaraderie. “The fellowship people have when they’re hunting and fishing has lent itself to be the best thing that has happened to me.” His favorite job is to take families on trips, which to him makes it a special outing. Virgil says there’s more opportunities now to get families out and fishing together, but people are involved in many things in the modern age, so trying to find time is hard for younger generations to get out into nature and explore it. “A lot of people find other things to do with their time than fishing, which in my opinion is not good, because any outing you do with your family and friends is pretty hard to beat.”
One walk over 35 years ago led to Mike Jenner’s passion for rock climbing. Mike was a student at Mizzou at the time, hiking around Capen Park when he saw a couple of guys rock climbing. Curious, he stepped over to them and asked them about it. They were generous enough to let him make his first climb that day. Now Mike travels all over North America for climbing. He thinks that Boone County is a great place to practice his hobby, but his all time favorite is in the Sierras in California. Mike spends many resources and tolerates the injuries from rock climbing because it’s a great mix of skills. “Rock climbing allows you to focus, to drive everything else out. It takes strength, but it’s also a mental sport,” Mike says. You may be strapped into a harness but there’s a lot of courage involved in rock climbing according to Mike. Unlike many other outdoor activities, Mike believes that rock climbing is on the rise. He attributes this to indoor climbing gyms, but he thinks it’s a lot harder of a transition from inside to the great outdoors than most people think. “It’s a good thing that people are climbing more, but I also hate to be climbing in a crowd,” says Mike. Even though Mike wants some quiet when climbing, he usually climbs with friends that he’s met around the country. It’s a good idea for safety reasons, but he also just enjoys the company.
Jim Karpowicz got his start in filming from his family. His dad and brother were both in the television business and Jim spent a lot of time learning the ropes and fumbling with cameras. “As a little kid I was always drawn to the creeks and the woods, and I realized as an adult I’d have to cobble together some sort of career that paid money that would have something to do with the outdoors.” He decided that with his basic knowledge of TV equipment he could start his own business as a nature videographer and filmmaker. “I was able to take the skills I learned at the TV station and concentrate on the outdoors,” says Jim. He continues with a laugh, “I guess it sort of worked, I was able to put a few kids through college, pay a mortgage.” He takes his job seriously though, spending a lot of time while out on the job thinking about frames and setting up equipment, but he says even in that process he has to look up at his surroundings sometimes and admire the career he’s built for himself. He’s been able to travel all over from Nevada to Nicaragua, and is amazed every time that he’s paid to do something he enjoys so much.