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May 14, 2014

Weekend activities

Saturday and Sunday May 10-11, 2014  Over the weekend we were able to catch up on some much needed sleep and relaxation after a week filled with hours of field work. On Saturday we had a late breakfast at 8 am and spent the morning reading, catching up on home work, and playing cards. Shortly after lunch we gathered in the vehicles and headed to Mukenya, which is a granite rock structure formed because the hard granite is less susceptible to erosion than the earth around it. There are many of these formations throughout Kenya. The hike up the formation…

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May 10, 2014

I have now been out of the United States for about 15 out of the last 18 weeks. And I’ve been a full-time college student the entire time. Amazingly, I haven’t felt like I have been missing out on any learning at the school. In fact, I cannot think of a better use of these last 18 weeks than what I have been doing. My spring semester was spent in Peru for SST, where I studied and did voluntary service while living with host families for 13 weeks. After a 3-week stay at home in Kansas (and a few days…

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May 10, 2014

Friday May 9th, 2014 – I wake up with my two tent mates at 6:30, first thing we do is open the tent flaps and let the dawn light pour in. Next is to make our beds- very tightly (we don’t want to find bugs in them tomorrow). After a quick breakfast, we go to the field to do research on the effects of smoke on ant behavior. Yes, this area has some pretty unique trees- called whistling thorns- with huge thorns (think toothpicks) to prevent being eaten by elephants. And as if that wasn’t enough, they grow ‘galls’ or…

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May 10, 2014

Thursday May 8th, 2014 We spent the day out in a glade, Where much good eating grass is made. We sampled dung so we could see, Where different grazers like to be. Elephant, zebra, giraffe, and hare, All left their droppings so we could stare, And feel their scat with our bare hands, Surprisingly, no bad smells reached our glands. We couldn’t have done it without our teacher, Identifying dung is his defining feature. The lesson we learned today, this is it, Ryan really knows his… poop. Glades (open, grazed areas with few trees) were the focus of the day,…

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May 10, 2014

Wednesday May 7th, 2014 I just have to begin with this – I am so happy that I am doing a blog on this website.  So then lets continue and see what happened today (7th May of 2014). By 9:00 a.m we were at the KLEE plots (Kenya Longterm Exclosure Plots) and like almost everyone in this group, I arrived at the plots with no knowledge of grass species. In just about 5 minutes, we were all able to give a description of 6 different grass species like the back of our hands. Our goal today was determine how fire and…

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May 10, 2014

Growing Up Maasai

It’s been a few days since our last update. This was not from a lack of attention on our part but merely the lack of internet. For the last few days we traveled north of Nairobi to a town called Ngong on the edge of Maasai land. We made Ngong our base of operation and traveled into Maasai land each day. In Ngong we were working with MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) and their local partner MIDI (Maasai Integrated Development Initiative). The travel in and out of the Rift Valley where the Maasai live is difficult and rough terrain requiring 4…

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May 7, 2014

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 Today marks almost a week since we have arrived in Kenya. The morning began with breakfast prepared by Agnes and the wonderful Rivercamp staff. We then headed out in the land rovers to complete another day of research. Today’s research focus was to determine if the four ant species that reside in Whistling Thorn trees evacuate from their swollen thorns upon smelling smoke. We used a bucket of burning grass to create smoke and quantified how each ant species behaved downwind. (We are finding that some species can smell smoke 500 meters down-wind and evacuate their…

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May 6, 2014

Monday May 5th, 2014 I still can’t get over the amazing sites of yesterday. We went to the hippo pool and we saw a bunch of hippos!! We got to see so many baby vervet monkeys! They are the cutest thing ever! It is just pretty awesome to see them playing. I don’t know how how many of you will believe this but I definitely felt a connection as they are so human-like. Today (Monday) was another amazing day. How many biology classes give you the opportunity to see giraffe, elephants, baboons, zebras, and so many other amazing animals during…

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May 6, 2014

Sunday relaxation

Sunday May 4, 2014 Today was a day of much needed rest and relaxation after our long day of burning yesterday. We woke up to a lovely late breakfast (7:30, woohoo!) and spent the morning doing homework, reading, and enjoying the savanna singing it’s beautiful songs to us. To contrast our experience at the rustic river camp, we spent the rest of late morning plugged in to our respective electronics at the research center – typing up long, informative, and heartfelt emails to our parents to let them know we haven’t been trampled by an elephant yet, and dutifully looking…

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May 5, 2014

Today was our 2nd production day on location of the communities we are visiting. After a full weekend of more “tourist” type activities everyone in the class was anxious to get back to the work at hand. We had a lot of fun over the weekend seeing the elephant orphanage, the giraffe center, some traditional dancing, a Nairobi market and yes even some shopping. But now after being here for 4 days we were ready to hit the road early this morning to get to the communities in Nydeiya, just north of Nairobi. I think Twila said it best tonight…

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