Slice of Life Tuesday: Fear, Preparation, & Success

I slept fitfully last night. I had some mild anxiety about a presentation today – the first student presentation I’ve done since the pandemic started. Although I was confident with the information I was presenting and how I was presenting it (this took a little bargaining), there was still that familiar twinge of fear and the hope I was prepared enough, clear enough, and that things would go smoothly.

New monarch. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2016.

Most of the mild fear I have related to presenting has to do with the anxiety of setting up the technology at the venue where I am speaking. I know that it usually works out and I also know that arriving early helps. I have also learned that having certain pieces of equipment in my arsenal helps. For example, yesterday I made spur of the moment decision in Target to purchase a $30.00 laser pointer and remote control to help me through my PowerPoint on being a citizen scientist. I tried it at home last night; it worked and I knew how to set it up upon arrival at the Eco Park today.This minor purchase helped to avoid the inconvenience of asking to use a pointer belonging to the organization, and having to “nod” or indicate to a person associated with the organization to move my slide forward or back as the case has been in the past. The pointer is a keeper!

It was a $30.00 well spent but technically put me in the hole for the presentation, since I volunteered my time to do it.

The other thing I’ve learned over my years as a community presenter is to have your presentation ready to go in multiple ways. This includes having the slide show saved in different ways. Today, I had my presentation on citizen science on the desktop of my MacBook Air and on a jump drive (also newly purchased yesterday). My intent with this new jumpdrive is to move all my slide shows to one location (this USB drive) so I don’t have to thumb through pages of icons on my computer. In the past, I’ve also emailed the presentation to whoever the contact person was for me with the organization but I have stopped doing that. I feel like I’m giving hours of prep away when I do that – like they could use it on their own in the future and not bother with calling me (or other environmental educators) in for a presentation. I can be, and usually am, generous with resources (as some of you know from my Poetry Friday post this past week). But, emailing an entire presentation?! I think not. I can only recall one time I had to rely on the presentation that I had emailed to show my slides. It was at a USFWS presentation to Master Naturalists. I won’t do it again, unless there is good cause.

Tags arrive in an envelope like this. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2021.

The hour I was given to present encompassed my own involvement as a citizen scientist over the last 20 years. I told an awe inspiring story to get the students hooked and then shared why I collect the data, how I collected the data, how I report the data, and what this does for the world of science as a whole.

The students, a dozen soon to be 4th graders, were attentive and interactive in answering my questions as well as posing questions of their own. The nature teachers were also very engaged and supportive of my content.

It all went very well. We did not get to go outside but did a simulated monarch tagging with paper butterflies and stickers. I showed them the hard copies of my data sheets from the last six years. I showed them data on my own monarch life cycle observations that I’ve submitted digitally as long ago as 2006. Unfortunately, it is approximately two weeks early to tag this year’s super generation of monarchs in the upper-midwest. The earliest date (according to my data) that I’ve applied a tag was 8/21. The peak migration in our area is September 5-13th. I was also able to show them real chrysalises and a monarch larva. Tomorrow, they will be well prepared to go into the field to do a survey on milkweeds in MN. This was well planned by the agency.

As I got started with today’s presentation, sometime very early – shortly after I told the story I used to “hook” my audience – I noted that my anxiety was gone! I was back in the saddle again, albeit this time with a mask on my face. Still, it did not deter my passion for this incredible species of butterflies.

No doubt, the morning was a success!

Monarch Tagging is part of Citizen Science.© Carol Labuzzetta, 2015.

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8 thoughts

  1. Your note tag pulled me into your post. I am feeling anxiety about going back to teach in a few weeks in person. I was a totally remote teacher all of last year. You planning and success is making me feel more confident about my return. That yes, it will be like riding a bicycle and I didn’t forget how. I needed to read your words so thank you sharing them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is like riding a bike, that analogy fits so well. I think some low level of anxiety is beneficial to being able to produce quality work. At least, that’s how I rationalize it! (LOL). I am glad my post boosted your confidence. Being with the kids will be worth it – and they’ll appreciate you for just being there – in person – for them! Best wishes for a confident and happy return.


  2. Carol, I am sure your presentation went well. When we went to Hershey, we entered a Butterfly Room all aflutter with different types of butterflies flying around. It was amazing and my son and I stayed to speak with the team about how items were tagged. I felt their passion & from your writing note the same passion. Thanks for sharing your work. BTW: I have a laser pointer and it is a wonderful tool for presentations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carol, I love butterfly rooms! When we travel, if there is one to go to, we do! I’ve been fortunate to be in some amazing ones! The Strong Museum in Rochester New York has a great one – at least they did years ago! There is also a nice one in Ames, IA! I am looking forward to seeing some in the Southwest during a trip we have planned in the fall. And, I loved the laser pointer and remote as well. I don’t imagine ever doing a presentation without it now!


  3. I so wish I could attend one of your presentations! And I know that anxiety well. One of the hats I wear is “tour guide”, and even though I have 29 seasons under my belt, there is always a mental gulp before I ascend the steps of the bus and pick up that mic. But — like you — once my wheels start turning, I’m good to go!

    Liked by 1 person

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