Amphibian Week 2023 is a hopping success!
Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) scientists and Federal agency collaborators interacted with over a thousand visitors during Amphibian Week (Amphibian Week 2023 | PARC (parcplace.org) activities in Washington D.C. between May 5th and 8th. Evan Grant, Erin Muths, Kelly Smalling and Mike Adams organized the ARMI-hosted event on the National Mall on May 8th. This mini festival to celebrate amphibians, and amphibian science and conservation, included the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in addition to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
USGS Director David Applegate attended as did Shannon Estenoz, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks (Department of the Interior). Associate Deputy Chief Greg Smith and Deputy Director of Biological and Physical Resources Staff Debbie Pressman (USFS) also attended. The locally-sourced live amphibians were popular, as was Phil the Frog, who could be spotted roaming the Mall enjoying the spring day directing folks to the event (with his handler). Several hundred people walked by stopping to spin the trivia wheel, pick up some swag or look at the live amphibians.
The ARMI scientists also participated in Amphibian Week events earlier in the week. The week kicked off on May 6th with a U.S. Forest Service-led event at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in the Q?rious learning space at the Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center with games, lots of amphibian information, and live amphibians from the local area. Nearly 500 people attended this event, playing the salamander migration game, find the frog in the leaf-litter and communing with Phil the Frog who danced his way around the event and around the Rotunda of the Museum, inviting more frog fans to the Q?rious space to help him celebrate Amphibian Week.
On May 7th there was a Smithsonian-sponsored event at the National Zoological Park. ARMI scientists pitched in with that as well, from cleaning exhibit windows, to running the spin-the-wheel trivia game and talking “amphibian” to zoo goers. The trivia game was wildly popular, as were the stickers! Several hundred people participated in this event in just the short 2-hours when ARMI was at the zoo. Phil the Frog had the day off but plans to participate at the zoo next year.
These activities were part of nation-wide efforts, led by Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC), to bring attention to the plight of amphibians worldwide. These events provided an opportunity to support the message of Amphibian Week, but also to promote and showcase over two decades of science conducted throughout the U.S. by ARMI scientists.
Also in D.C., but on a more serious note, ARMI scientists were invited to visit several U.S. Representatives and Senators, as well as staff from the Congressional Research Service, to share amphibian science information and outcomes and listen to concerns about amphibians in their respective states. The Hill visits, which included our ambassador amphibians, were encouraging and the reception was incredibly positive with staff asking many interesting and insightful questions.
Phil the Frog thought it was an exhilarating and worthwhile week, but he is exhausted. Phil and the ARMI scientists want to thank a few of the myriad of folks who made this possible: Charlie Shafer, Jo Werba, and Adrianne Brand (USGS staff); Kerry Wixted (Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies), Kim Winter (U.S. Forest Service), Efrain Tejada, Matt Evans and Brian Gratwicke (Smithsonian), Leslie Frattaroli and Mike Litterst (National Park Service), Michelle Christman (PARC), Darren and the staff at the hotel where we stayed, and USGS outreach staff, Suzanna Soileau, Sally House, and especially Michelle Collier who ran the show.