Maumee Valley Institute, Rethinking Agriculture in Japan, a Robotic Squirrel, and a call to save The Times-Picayune

All kinds of great stuff today on The Nooze!

To start us off, brand-new Fellow Matt Markey of The Blade in Toledo, shares a first-hand account of the Institute that he and 11 other journalists just completed:

Media baptized into protecting area waters

PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio -- The battle of Lake Erie rages on. Nearly 200 years after the American forces led by Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British fleet near here in a pivotal naval confrontation of the War of 1812, a much more complex engagement involving this vital waterway continues.

It is that conflict -- confronting a contemporary murderer's row of enemies that threaten the lake's health and long-term survival -- that brought a dozen journalists here over the weekend as part of an intensive three-day examination of the lake and its life-supporting carotid artery -- the Maumee River... Read more.

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From Sam Eaton, reporting for PBS from Japan, a look at changing agricultural practices as a generation of farmers gets older. The story is part of the Food for 9 Billion series, a multimedia project that explores the challenges of feeding a growing world in a time of social and environmental change.  It's a "NewsHour" partnership with the Center for Investigative Reporting, Homelands Productions, and American Public Media's Marketplace.

As Farmers Age, Japan Rethinks Relationship with Food, Fields

In modern Japan, farming is still very much a holdover from simpler times.  Much of the work is done by hand on small plots of land that have been cultivated by the same families, sometimes for centuries.  But today, Japanese agriculture is at a crossroads. 

Japan's farmers, like 71-year-old Yurinori Mori and his wife, Fukiko, are getting old.  And their children and grandchildren are leaving the farms for higher-paying jobs in the cities... Read, see and hear more.

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Lauren Sommer with KQED QUEST in northern California talks with some biologists who are using high-tech squirrels to study rattlesnakes, and also takes a look at how other scientists are turning to cockroaches for advice on how to do search-and-rescue better.

Bio-Robotics: Biology Goes High-Tech

The Bay Area may be the high-tech capital of the nation, but increasingly, biologists working at some of the area’s universities are turning to technology, too. The game-changing field of “bio-robotics” is opening a new window onto animal behavior.

That can be seen in the hills high above San Jose, where there’s a timeless battle going on between predator and prey – California ground squirrels and Northern Pacific rattlesnakes.

Rulon Clark, a biologist at San Diego State University, is studying this unique interaction at the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve. As he shows me the field site, he warns me that the grassy hills are chock full of rattlesnakes. “Just try to watch where you’re stepping,” he says.... Read more.

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And finally, Sarah Shipley Hiles, environmental journalist and professor at Bowling Green State University, shares her thoughts on why The Times-Picayune in New Orleans needs to be saved - and shares a link to a petition which aims to do just that.

Save The Times-Picayune!

I just signed a petition to save The Times-Picayune, New Orleans’ prize-winning newspaper, which recently announced plans to cut print publication back to three days a week.

t was where I cut my teeth as a cub journalist, starting on the copy desk during my senior year in college at Loyola University. I became a stringer, writing about issues on the college beat, including the paper’s first story on the then-unknown phenomenon of the Internet. Later, I covered city government, higher education, the famous Louisiana legislature, and topics including a Superfund cleanup, underage drinking, homeless teenagers and the Pearl River swamp. I was there when the paper won one of its Pulitzer Prizes, for a series on the dire state of the world’s oceans.

I owe much in my career to my mentors from the T-P, including Kristin Gilger (now associate dean of the Arizona State University Cronkite School of Journalism), Keith Woods (now a vice president at NPR), and Mark Schleifstein (still the voice of the environment at the Picayune)... Read more.