Sunday, October 9, 2016

Night of the Tortoises

-from the Head Curator

One of the perks of being a member of the Imperial Valley Desert Museum Society are the members-only events we occasionally hold.  Last night we held our first members-only Evening with an Expert event of the season.  David Lamfrom, Director of the California Desert and Wildlife Programs with the National Parks Conservation Association; wildlife photographer; conservation advocate; and president of the Mojave National Preserve Conservancy, came out to speak about desert tortoises and a youth program he did called Tortoises Through the Lens.

David Lamfrom signed copies of Tortoises Through the Lens after his talk
"As long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by animals: wanting to know what their lives are like, and how I could help them" Lamfrom said.  His passion and enthusiasm for the desert, protecting it, and exposing others to it, came through in every moment of his talk.  He described how, as a native of Southern Florida, he was fascinated by the beauty of the very different landscape of the California deserts- and how he was shocked by locals who not only saw no beauty in where they lived, but couldn't wait to leave it.  In 2008 he was in the first class to win a National Audubon Society Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship and began to connect children to the desert through photography.  This became Tortoises Through the Lens: a program where kids were given cameras and taken out into the Mojave Desert to discover what they thought mattered.  After a meeting with a small tortoise, the group was hooked.  The result has been a whole new generation of "desert rats", advocating for the desert, the desert tortoises, and their habitats.  The students' photography became Tortoises Through the Lens, a book "of their eighteen-month adventure to seek out, photograph, and learn about the desert tortoises and the harsh land that they inhabit."
Marcie Rodriguez, Edgar Bernal Sevilla, Robin Dodge, David Lamfrom
& Dr. Robert Wishner with Ramses

After the talk, members shared stories about tortoises they had known as pets, as well as their experiences in the desert.  Lamfrom's experience of kids not being able to wait until they could move away was familiar to everyone in the room.  "We're not taught to love our desert" Marcie Rodriguez, IVDM Education Co-ordinator agreed with Lamfrom.  "I didn't know how amazing this place was until I came to the museum.  Now there's a place for people with a passion to come and learn and share ideas and advocate.  It's my goal to make sure no Imperial Valley student feels the way I did about growing up in the Valley."

New outdoor test panels encourage visitors to explore the lives of desert tortoises

No comments:

Post a Comment