Campus Creature Census: Creatively Assessing OSU’s ‘Other-Than-Human’ Species

The Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word has announced the first annual Campus Creature Census.

The submission guidelines are simple: “Any entry whose focus honors the existence of a member of our campus creature community is welcome, including entries about a plant, animal, microbe, fungus, or other organism that’s located on the main OSU campus.”

Entries can come in the form of prose, poetry, a field guide entry, or an original art piece including photography, painting, or drawing.

In short, the community is invited to create art in honor of—or to dishonor—a local, non-human life form. The census is designed as a unique way of exploring the OSU campus: as a “natural environment where sequoias and gray squirrels, rhododendrons and chickadees, lichens, spiders, garter snakes, and moss co-create the OSU ecosystem.”

The inspiration for the Corvallis Creature Census came from a series of Poetic Inventories held in conjunction with an event known as a BioBlitz. During the 24 hours of a BioBlitz, teams of volunteer scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members work together to identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as possible. The first Poetic Inventory was held in Saguaro National Park in 2011, and featured close to 100 poets and prose writers contributing creative pieces based on species in the park. The second Poetic Inventory was held in 2012 in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Corvallis Creature Census intends to follow in the same vein by creating an “abundant catalog of all the other-than-human creatures with whom we share the OSU campus.”

OSU students’ Census entries will be automatically considered in a juried contest, with a $100 prize for the winning entry in each category. Entries will be evaluated based on sense of engagement and overall artistic, literary, and scientific merit. The registration deadline is Monday, April 15; entries must be submitted by Wednesday, May 1.

More details can be found at

by Nathaniel Brodie