Naturespeak A naturalist's view of the world

March 19, 2007

About Naturespeak

Filed under: — wykes @ 7:24 am

By Gerry Wykes (

Hello, my name is Gerald Wykes and I am an Interpretive American. You can call me Gerry and you can call me a Naturalist if you like, but only if you read the following paragraphs.In the “old days” they exclusively called our kind “Naturalists.” We are the ones that wore wide brimmed hats and collected things into jars, pointed out tadpoles in a pond and imitated the call of the Barred Owl. We also talked alot about prehistoric Native American ways, settlers, old mills and farmsteads. Natural history and cultural history themes became seemlessly blended into each other, so we sought different titles to better describe what we do.

We do more than just nature stuff, we don’t eat nuts and berries and don’t run around naked in the woods. Quite in opposition to the last statement, I wear long sleeves and long pants all year round. “Ranger,” “Guide,” and “Environmental Educator” are a few of the better names that have come up. “Kook,” “Touched” and “Different” are a few of the not so good ones.

Today the term “Interpreter” best describes my species and what we do. In my professional life, that is my title. I am, in fact, the Supervising Interpreter of the Lake Erie Marshlands Museum and Nature Center at Lake Erie Metropark. A definition of the term – the mantra by which we raise our palm and place our right hand over our heart is : “As an Interpreter we interpret the language of nature and the voices of history and put them into stories that are fun and easy to understand.” Now, I know that most folks will still need to be told that I am a Naturalist before they begin to understand why I am knee deep in a marsh without a foriegner in need of translation next to me. So, go ahead and call me a Naturalist. I am honored to be in the company of fellow naturalists such as John James Audubon, John Muir, and John Denver. O.K., John Denver was a singer, but his lyrics reflected a deep love of the natural world and so he qualified as an honorary naturalist.

It is the curse of a naturalist to be one ALL THE TIME. It is my work, but it is also my play – it is me. Professionally I have been in the field for 27 years, but realistically I can extend that interest back another quarter century (allowing a few years for teething and potty training). I am also a freelance author and artist, so I interpret nature and history through painting, drawing, writing, and even a little music.

My Naturespeak blog is a view of the world from a peculiar place – inside the mind of a naturalist/interpreter. By describing what an Interpreter does, I am warning you about the kind of things you can expect here. I’ll bring you insights into the big picture, the little picture and the offbeat with an emphasis on the natural world. I will strive to provide you with “stories that are fun and easy to understand” and look forward to exchanging comments with my readers.

Before I am accused of not really saying anything biographical here, let me state that I live here in Monroe with my beautiful wife Debbie. Our three children, Geoff, Jim & Katelyn are in different stages of flying the coop while attending three different colleges. Since my wife and I are both currently employed, I don’t believe I will be asking you for any money to help pay for their education. I will ask you, however, to learn a few things, laugh a few times and to gain a full appreciation of the natural world around you.



  1. Hi Gerry, I came across your blog this morning in a google search. I’m enjoying it very much.
    You can read the details of the google search in my blog,, which links to your June 2010 post on Mayflies.
    Keep up the good work,
    Julie Maxson

    Comment by Julie Maxson — February 8, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

  2. hey men…
    magnificent blog & cool pics!!!
    stumbled upon your blog, when searching for information about a silver fish wath Im catch only a spring time in local pond, in the end turned out to be a golden shaner
    glad that there are people like you who can see “common” in nature and share it with others
    come see blog:
    have a good time

    Comment by Sergey Martynov — February 23, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

  3. Hey, in the process of looking up marsupials I found this gem of a blog. I’m a Michigander from GR so we share that in common. I’m glad you keep blogging and writing no matter how small the audience.

    Comment by Cathy Creswell — March 17, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

  4. Gerry,
    My husband and I are both Interpreters too, but we volunteer with our CIG skills. I saw your post on the Garter Snakes and was fascinated since one of my nature preserves just did a Snake Day. I’ll put a link in it to this post of yours if you don’t mind.

    Comment by Kathy Dennis — March 27, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  5. Gerry,
    I really enjoy your blog and learning more about nature around Southeast Michigan.
    I read Naturespeak often and recommend to my friends. Love your sense of humor.

    Comment by Paul Russeau — May 15, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  6. I have a picture of a rabbit with some strange growths around the ears. If I send it to you could you take a look? If so, what’s the best way to send it?

    Comment by Wally Walztoni — June 20, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

  7. How can I follow your blog?

    Comment by Phyllis Jeffery — September 3, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  8. We have a pear tree that has been in decline. Bark falling off and tiny holes all over the trunk. I have found the creator of the holes today. It appears to be a beetle. If I send you an image of it, could you take a look at it? Thank you!

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