Heroes

Fire blazes in a prairie. It's not vandalism. It's better.

It's kind of beautiful how in sync the folks in these Kansas prairies are with nature, right?

Fire blazes in a prairie. It's not vandalism. It's better.

Some things NEED fire to live.

Pine trees, lovely flowering plants in the prairie, birds, and other prairie wildlife that also live there. For them, fire is life.


Image via Pixabay.

But for a good chunk of the 20th century, many folks in the U.S. were afraid of fire and tried to put a stop to them. It took until 1972 for many public parks — such as Yellowstone — or public lands to implement "controlled fires." Only then did many people start realizing that fire is part of the cycle of life.

The Native Americans knew this long ago, and they burned grasses.

Prairie Rebirth: America's last great Tallgrass Prairie has begun again the springtime ritual of fire, death, and rebirth. Lines of fire arc across the Flint Hills consuming last year's dead grasses to make way for this spring's lush growth. Ranchers here in Kansas now replicate the ecosystem's burning patterns which Native Americans used before them and which natural fires (sparked by lightning) produced before man ever came to the Great Plains. Shot on assignment for National Geographic Magazine. For the next several days I'll feature this annual spectacle on @JimRichardsonNG. #FlintHillsSaga #nature @natgeocreative #kansas
A photo posted by National Geographic (@natgeo) on

Humans have figured out how to create controlled fires.

There's always a huge risk that we might accidentally burn things we don't want to burn, so people who do burn — such as ranchers — have to know exactly what they're doing. Many guides exist to help ranchers, such as "Burn Your Prairie Safely (And Have Fun, Too!)."

Nature is blazing! And it's totally for a good cause. Image via Angie Babbit/Flickr.

In the case of Kansas's Flint Hills prairies, the fires are for the good of nature.

The method is called a "prescribed burn." Ranchers in east Kansas carry them out for several reasons:

  1. To get rid of invasive species. Fires maintain the species diversity of native plants.
  2. To get rid of weeds and plant growth that could lead to wildfires. Planned fires where you burn what you want to burn are always better than unplanned fires where things you don't want to burn end up burned to a crisp.
  3. To restore soil nutrients. According to the Illinois State Museum, "Nitrogen-fixing legumes have increased growth after fires, which helps restore nitrogen back into the soil. A fall burn adds vital nutrients to the soil, creating a dark exposed surface. This surface warms more quickly in the spring to help speed germination."


Kansas' Kirwin Prairie months after a prescribed burn. Image via USFWS Mountain-Prairie/Flickr.

While there are legitimate concerns that the fires might cause carbon dioxide emissions, the prescribed fires ultimately prevent larger wildfires from occurring and allow for native plants and trees to continue growing — trees that can store the carbon.

It's kind of beautiful how in sync the folks are with nature, right?


Prairie Rebirth 6/20: Rolling hills turn black as the lines of fire billow smoke in the late afternoon. The spring burn in the Flint Hills releases carbon stored in the plants from last years growth, carbon that will be captured again as the grasses grow again throughout the summer. For the atmosphere this carbon cycle is a wash, unlike burning fossil fuels which releases stored carbon. #FlintHillsSaga #nature @natgeocreative #kansas
A photo posted by Jim Richardson (@jimrichardsonng) on

Our lives don't have to be humanity versus environment. We can mutually benefit from each other.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via The Walt Disney Company / Flickr

One of the ways to tell if you're in a healthy relationship is whether you and your partner are free to talk about other people you find attractive. For many couples, bringing up such a sensitive topic can cause some major jealousy.

Of course, there's a healthy way to approach such a potentially dangerous topic.

Telling your partner you find someone else attractive shouldn't be about making them feel jealous. It's probably also best that if you're attracted to a coworker, friend, or their sibling, that you keep it to yourself.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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