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Science as Leisure

Liz Marchio

I am a trained ichthyologist interested in what gets people interested in natural history, biological sciences, and science careers. My passion is to find out what fuels curiosity for the natural world.

Biology-related serious leisure activities can impact people's interest in ecology, biology, and natural history. Do these activities promote biological understanding? If so, how does that progress and to what level does it progress to? 

If you're interested in a starting a dialogue, please feel free to contact me. If you're curious about how I got here, my story can be found on the About Me page.

 

Exploration & Discovery; Everything is Amazing

One of the things science was to me was an outlet for never ending discovery. As a kid I was always in creeks trying to find tadpoles and frogs - it was exploration and discovery at the most basic level. As a student in elementary school that continued but once middle school hit, I started puberty and my life changed. I wasn't interested in exploration and discovery; I was interested in social survival. This lasted to college where my insecurities still reigned supreme and I was lost in a sea of life choices.

At the end of my undergraduate program I found two fantastic mentors and figured things out. I wanted exploration and discovery in the rest of my life. THAT is what is exciting. I didn't care how I got there. I started working for the Museum of Biodiversity at [The] Ohio State University and realized all those days in a creek could be my life choice. I became a scientist.

I often wonder if people revert back to this kind of childlike wonder once they realize they can. I did. As a part of this great big, wonderful, amazing Earth, humanity seems to get lost in the everyday survival but can go back to the fun of exploration and discovery while on vacation or even just slowing down a tiny bit more to take a walk in a nearby park, go fishing, or anything that allows a "big picture" view. Just stopping to think about something in full can really put things in perspective.

This NPR article asks why we are so bored and unhappy with life when everything is amazing. In college we are pushed to decide our future when none of the options look satisfying on the outside. In America we decide what job we want and that alone defines us. Ever go to a party and talk to people and realize how much stock we put into jobs and the job as the way we define ourselves to others? We have harried ourselves in college "to make something of ourself" and now we live day to day for something else entirely! Maybe you're an accountant because it was a good life choice, but you live for vacation. Isn't that counter-intuitive? Those that love their jobs are few and far between. I wonder if those who are happy with their jobs have tapped into that childlike wonder of exploration and discovery... I know many professional scientists who have. Plenty of hobbies are out there that allow the same - aquarium hobbyists are always able to keep different species and learn all there is to learn about them through husbandry practices. That's their little amazing corner of the world.

At our most basic level I think we are all a little bit of a scientist.

Tapping back into the exploration and discovery part of our lives may make us feel happier, fulfilled, and appreciative for what we have and can still do.

Life is amazing, get out there and join in! 

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