This summer, my friends at Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, Todd Pover (Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager) and Emily Heiser (Wildlife Biologist) asked me to design a badge for a kids' summer wildlife program. The idea behind the program was to teach kids how to become Junior Beach Biologists. Todd and Emily had the idea for the badge as being a piping plover dressed as a wildlife biologist out in the field.
During the conservation fact-filled day, Todd and Emily showed kids the splendor of spotting well-camoflauged piping plovers as they go about their parenting, living their lives among the masses of vacationers on New Jersey beaches in the summertime. The kids also learned how to identify and sympathize with other threatened and endangered shorebirds such as the least tern, the black skimmer, and the American oystercatcher. They then made creative signs to be posted in order to pass on this information to the beach-going public. After being endowed with such knowledge and demonstrating their newly acquired skills, the kids earned the designation of Junior Beach Biologists and were all given a badge.
My inspiration for the badge drew from such cultural conservation icons as Uncle Traveling Matt of Fraggle Rock, Teddy Roosevelt, and the Khaki Scouts from Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom. He (a piping plover, of course) is carrying his handy and invaluable "Rite in the Rain" notebook (since 1916). He also bears such essential tools as his trusty binocular and the all-important fencing poles carried in his pack, which will be used to mark out safe boundaries around his nest and critical feeding areas. The pith helmet will help to deflect blows of both a physical and spiritual nature, emanating from such creatures as common terns fearing predation of their nests and from tourists fearing that their vacation bubble is in danger of rupture.