The Nature Pages

Keeping a Nature Journal 

Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You

by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth. 213 pp. Storey Books, 2003.

Keeping a Nature Journal

Unlike a diary, which is primarily an introspective account of personal history, the nature journal is an outwardly directed record of natural history. Observations and perceptions of nature and the emotional responses they inspire in the human observer/participant are its metier. Some nature journals are filled with bird lists and weather charts; others include sketches, drawings or watercolor paintings. Poems, photographs, newspaper clippings, musical notations and stories are as appropriate to the genre as scientific record-keeping, mapping and research. The key element is the focus -- looking outward into the world.

Leading by example, this large and profusely illustrated guidebook provides "journaling" techniques to encourage nature observation and recording-keeping in many forms. Educational in its approach and content, it's an exceptionally good tool for teachers and students of many fields, from botany and biology to creative writing and sketching. The final chapters of the book are dedicated to teaching situations and there's even a suggested scale for assessing nature journaling skills.

In the right hands, almost any notebook or blank book will perform as a nature journal. But for those intimidated by empty pages, this "guided journal" can help jump-start their journaling with inspirational quotes, exercises, tips and suggestions.
   
 "My life work has focused mostly on training teachers and youth leaders in natural history and helping foster basic environmental literacy among our citizens," write Charles Roth, who co-authored the text with Clare Walker Leslie. "Clare has stimulated hundreds of people to begin keeping nature journals; we have even taught some nature observation workshops jointly in the past. As a journalist I tend to be more writer than artist; for Clare, it's just the reverse."         

 Leslie's wonderful nature sketches and artwork steal attention away from the textual elements in thise guide, and it's difficult to imagine any reader not being tempted to try at least a few of the drawing exercises. The second edition (2003) includes a 32-page color portfolio of Leslie's work that almost any nature journalist will want to emulate. Beside the drawings and the excerpts, often inserted as sidebars, are tips on setting up a nature study, keeping naturalist records, conducting biological research or identifying plants and wildlife.








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Nature Journal
Nature Journal
A Guided Journal for Illustrating and Recording Your Observations of the Natural World
Storey Books, 2003

In the right hands, almost any notebook or blank book will perform as a nature journal. But for those intimidated by empty pages, this "guided journal" can help jump-start their journaling with inspirational quotes, exercises, tips and suggestions. 

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Snowy Egret, Vol. 75, #1
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