Why I stand creepily on the side of the road some nights

Have you ever been to a party where you had just an OK time until you got to have a good conversation with someone? That’s how I feel after my frog and toad call training!

Before training, when I went out in nature and heard frogs and toads calling, I had an OK time. After the training, at a weekend of camping, I heard chorus frogs and American toads, and I felt like I just met some friends! My time was more enjoyable with my new knowledge.

How did that happen? When we first moved to town and the ICN was a deal,  I arranged for GAIN Academy to sit in on a Frog and Toad Identification class.

leopard frog
a Northern Leopard Frog at a local park

It was presented by a naturalist with the county conservation board. We learned three frog calls. I promptly noted their calls in our state Amphibian Field Guide.

northern leopard frog 2006 MARGO FRANKEL WOODS
The frog moved away from the friendly 9 year old above so I could get this lovely shot.

Besides the three calls, another thing that stayed with me from the class: people could volunteer to monitor frog calls (and thus their population). Over a decade later, I finally took the training class to be a state volunteer! I was extremely excited that things worked out for me to be trained.

I made my first survey last weekend. Here’s my dusty car and magnet sign for proof:

frog sign crop


I decided to go further than enjoyment with my training — I volunteered to go out and survey the frog and toad calls in Iowa three nights a year. With a very small staff — I want to say between one and four full-time employees — the state has to monitor about one thousand non-game species. It’s an easier job with volunteers. So if you see me standing on a dirt road late at night with this sign, don’t worry. I’m being a good steward of the land.

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