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Naturally speaking

Connie Steiert

Do you have burning questions about the environment? Or are you curious about issues specific to our mountain home? Now you can get answers straight from the experts during a series of fascinating seminars on the natural world.The Eagle Valley Library District has teamed up with the Gore Range Natural Science School to present the High Country Speaker Series at the Avon Library during January, February, March and April. On the second Tuesday of each of these months, celebrated scientists, naturalists and authors will lend their passionate voices to, hopefully, stimulate interest, knowledge and reflection about our place in the natural world around us.&quotIt’s a program we are doing in conjunction with the Gore Range Natural Science School addressing the issues that impact people in the high country,&quot explains Kari Thorne, the community relationslibrarian for the Avon Library. The series was the brainchild of Avon Library’s adult services librarian Jane Hart.Topics will cover everything from animal behavior to water management to spirituality and the West, and will provide a fresh look at the natural world we inhabit. Three of the four guest speakers in the series have published books, and all are noted intheir respective fields.The first seminar begins at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 14 at the Avon Library, and will feature animal behavior specialist Marc Bekoff. Bekoff is a professor of biology and ethologist at the University ofColorado.In &quotMinding Animals and Minding Earth: You’ve got to have Heart,&quot Bekoff will discuss his extensive research into animal behavior and his conviction that animals have a good deal more emotions and feelings than is generally accepted. Bekoff will share anecdotes from his research as well as personal stories from his experiences in the field and glimpses into the world of an animal behavior specialist.Bekoff’s style of discourse is entertaining as well as informative, and has been compared to a friendly chat around the campfire with a wise elder. Yet, he does not talk down to his audience. Readily discussing what science knows about the animal mind, and what theaverage person recognizes as emotion in animals, Bekoff advocates for animal rights and a more ethical attitude toward the creatures with which we share the planet.Bekoff is the author of several books, which have won regional awards. In his latest book, &quotMinding Animals: Awareness, Emotions, and Heart,&quot Bekoff talks about elephants that grieve their dead, dogs that have an uncanny knack for knowing when their owners will return home and monkeys capable of cleverly misleading their peers about the location of food.He also recently co-authored a book with renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, entitled, &quotThe Ten Trusts: What We Must Do To Care for the Animals We Love.&quot This book gives simple, straightforward ways ordinary people can positively effect the well-being of animals, such as teaching our children to respect nature or praising and helping those who do work on animals’ behalf. Bekoff also co-founded the organization Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment ofAnimals with Goodall in 2000.The High Country Speaker Series will continue Feb. 11, with Ann Zwinger, an award-winning author and artist. Zwinger, a naturalist and the author of more than 20 books, will present &quotWhose World is this Anyway? Human Law/Natural Law.&quot Zwinger’s awards include the Orion Society’s John Hay Award for distinguished lifetime achievement as a nature writer.Dan Luecke, the former director of the Rocky Mountain Office of Environmental Defense, will present &quotAn Environmentalist’s Look at the Drought of 2002&quot on March 11. Luecke is a hydrologist and an environmental scientist who has worked on water management andaquatic habitat protection issues in the West for more than 20 years.And in April, Chickasaw poet, novelist and nature writer Linda Hogan will present, &quotWilderness and Spirituality&quot on April 8. Hogan’s first novel, &quotMean Spirit, was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.Books by these speakers will be on sale at the Avon Library during the High Country Speaker Series, and the authors will be available to personally sign them.The proceeds from these sales will go to benefit the Gore Range Natural Science School, which provides numerous educational programs for children and adults in Eagle County.The High Country Speakers Series is free to the public, but because space is limited, it is suggested you register in advance. To reserve your space, call the Eagle Valley Library District at 949-6797 or theGore Range Natural Science School at 827-9725, ext. 10.


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