Rob Kanter

Rob Kanter

Environmental Almanac | Thriving coyotes are getting a bad rap

NOTE: In the environmental writing class I teach at the University of Illinois, I emphasize that to connect with people, it's important to anticipate some of their responses to a topic. In this commentary on coyotes ("Your Neighbor the Coyote"), undergraduate April Wendling shows how that's done.


Environmental Almanac | It's not too early to view amphibian show

It may be too early in the year to contemplate April showers bringing May flowers. But in much of Illinois, heavy rains in late February and early March trigger an astonishing and ancient natural phenomenon — the annual congregation of amphibians in the waters where they breed.

Environmental Almanac: The world has a place for pesky blood suckers

On Saturday, the 35th annual Insect Fear Film Festival will take place in Foellinger Auditorium at the University of Illinois. As part of the celebration, this week's Environmental Almanac features the writing of UI graduate students Nicholas Anderson, Samniqueka Halsey, Todd Johnson, Tanya Josek and Erin Welsh, who conduct research on insects and related arthropods.

Environmental Almanac: Some good reasons to head outside

At this time in February, I have to remind myself of two things: Winter doesn't last forever, and there are outdoor activities to enjoy even while it remains.

Environmental Almanac: In defense of the eastern gray squirrel

We missed "Squirrel Appreciation Day" last week, but I think you'll enjoy this engaging column by Laura Schultz, who was a student in my University of Illinois environmental writing class last fall. — Rob Kanter


Environmental Almanac: It's time to take light pollution seriously

This column is intended as a follow-up to News-Gazette reporter Tracy Crane's recent article on the application to have the Middle Fork Forest Preserve in northeast Champaign County certified as a Dark Sky Park. Her article focused on the direct benefits to people of having a place to see the night sky unobscured by artificial light.

Environmental Almanac: Plenty of reasons for hope in our area

If you're looking for inspiration and energy this month — and who's not? — let me call your attention to the state of the environmental community in central Illinois and some of the ways it has flourished over the past year.

Prairie Rivers Network, where I'm a board member and long-time volunteer, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017, and it's currently stronger than ever before.

Environmental Almanac: Observations from 2017 Christmas Bird Count

If you're out before sunrise for the purpose of birding at this time of year, you're "owling." That is, you're quietly listening for owls to call and perhaps playing a recording to prompt them. And owling is the way I started the Champaign County edition of the 2017 Christmas Bird Count on Dec.

Environmental Almanac: Holiday gifts for the environmentally inclined

I'm conflicted when it comes to holiday gift giving. On one side, my inner curmudgeon urges me to opt out as far as possible. Isn't this focus on new stuff at odds with people reducing their negative impacts on the planet? Bah, humbug.

On the other side, I enjoy giving and receiving gifts as much as anyone else. Curmudgeon be damned; let's open presents!

Environmental Almanac: Another episode in funeral of native flora

In one of the fall classes I teach at the University of Illinois, the only required reading is Aldo Leopold's "A Sand County Almanac." Although it was published nearly 70 years ago, I find that it speaks more eloquently to the central questions posed by the Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability major than anything written since.