Jim Kenagy

Golden-mantled ground squirrel

THEMES: Childhood & Family  |  WORKSHOP: Natural History & Research


Jim Kenagy

Jim Kenagy grew up loving the outdoors and the pristine. To him that was nature and natural history. As a novice pre-professional zoologist and beginning graduate student, he belonged to a generation of ecologists-in-training who were mostly seeking to study the ecology of what was natural. He specifically avoided studying a system or a local community of organisms that were tarnished by human influence. Much later in his academic career he taught biogeography and realized that the beautifully laid-out system of biomes is just an ideal of what would exist if humans had not become the ecosystem engineers and deconstructionists that we have become. Despite the need to document what (sadly) is happening to “the pristine” in order to support our conservation agenda, Jim feels that we need to foster ongoing enthusiasm for the marvels of nature, as it has developed in the long history of life on our planet. He feels that the “sky-is-falling” mentality is pretty easy to teach and to learn. Therefore he hopes that somehow we can find good ways to teach the love of nature for what it is on its own.




I remember something: I have an uncle who gave me a Have-a-Heart trap, and I don't know why he did; he thought it might be interesting for me to see if I could catch something. I caught a golden-mantled ground squirrel. I was growing up in central Oregon, loving sagebrush and junipers and nearby, my favorite trees, ponderosa pines and that community. It turns out I ended up doing a lot of research in that community later. I even did it on that first animal I caught and made a pet out of: this little golden-mantled ground squirrel.