In celebration of rough-skinned newts, crows and coyotes, killdeer and cows, and the myriad other-than-human species that inhabit Oregon State University, the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word has announced the second annual Campus Creature Census.
Staff, students, faculty, and community members are invited to submit entries “whose focus honors the existence of a member of our campus creature community, 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. The entries contribute to an ongoing collection of observations about the relationship between humans and the myriad of species that inhabit the campus.
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 is following in the same vein; last spring, the Spring Creek Project received a large number of creative entries inventorying the animal and plant life on 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 “creature registration” deadline is Monday, April 28; entries must be submitted by Saturday, May 10.