In Stewardship Stories, we sit down with a Larson Design Group (LDG) team member who is living our Core Value of stewardship and giving back to their community.
Today’s story comes from Josh Glace, Associate Project Manager with our Environmental team. Josh has been volunteering his time for various organizations since high school and is currently active in local fire companies, legions, and his local sportsman’s club, helping with operations, fundraisers and youth engagement activities. Recently, he served as the “Creature Feature” Nature Walk leader for the Snyder and Juniata County Conservation Districts outdoor education events.
Tell us about this stewardship activity – what’s a ‘Creature Feature’ walk and what was your role?
I participated in four, one-day events teaching children from kindergarten to fifth grade about native Pennsylvania wildlife, plants, and ecology. The walks through the woods consisted of 15 stations with furs, skulls, mounts, animal signs, and fake animal scat (which became a favorite aspect for the kids). Along the way, we discussed predator and prey relationships, conservation efforts, and the importance of sustainable harvesting practices. The kids and their teachers learned a lot and enjoyed petting the animal furs and my rendition of a grouse drumming, which was me slapping my hands on my stomach!
How did you learn about this opportunity and why did you want to pursue it?
I have friends and family that work at both the Snyder and Juniata County Conservation Districts, who had lost the former leader for the event due to COVID and they need a quick fill-in. I got a call the week of the first event because I know a lot about wildlife from both my job and because it’s always been a personal interest of mine. I agreed to help them out with one event, but apparently the teachers and students liked me so much I was asked to continue with other events later in the year.
What was the most interesting or challenging aspect?
The most challenging thing for me was making the experience interesting and interactive for the kids, although it didn’t seem to be an issue because they liked hearing about the animals and touching the furs and scat and seeing the animal sign. My favorite part is teaching them about the skunk. Some kids don’t want to touch the fur because they say it stinks, and I then ask them if they wear perfume or cologne. Most say yes, and then I get to tell them that most high-end perfumes and colognes use skunk essence (urine) to make them adhere better to a person. They just remove the scent and replace it with something better smelling. That always gets a good laugh out of the kids and some of the teachers.
Will you pursue this again if you have the chance?
Yes – it was very gratifying to see both the students and teachers taking an interest in our natural environment. And it wasn’t that long ago that I was one of those kids listening intently at an outdoor education event, not knowing that the outdoors would be my future career. I really hope one of the kids attending my nature walks can look back on this as the thing that sparked their interest in the outdoors and environmental stewardship.
I have already been asked to lead some 2022 walks and might help other counties that have heard about the success of my events. I’ve been collecting new furs and animals that the county did not have – I was able to obtain a black bear hide, fisher, otter and weasel furs as well. I want to keep building upon the materials the districts have.
Founded in 1986, Larson Design Group is an award-winning, 100 percent employee-owned national architecture, engineering and planning firm with 15 offices in six states and a vision to elevate client relationships, enrich the careers and lives of its employee-owners, and enhance the communities in which it operates. LDG promotes stewardship in their communities as one of its core values, and each year provides stewardship time that employees can use for activities meant to improve and engage with the places in which they live and work. For more information, visit http://www.larsondesigngroup.com/about.