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Ellen McCallie's Diary

Day 7: Properties of Gold

Photo: goldWe ended up with some gold, not as much as I would have thought. We must have been pouring the water down the sluice too quickly. Humm, how to fix that? Also, when Kevin, who owns the rights to the land, talked with us, he was surprised we weren't getting flakes of gold — we've been limited to "colors" or specks. He tested our tailings, the stuff that comes off at the bottom of the sluice and found a bit of color, so we know we aren't catching everything we could.

The idea of gold panning! Who would have ever thought? Isn't this the stuff of storybooks and lottery tickets?

Photo: trees near the riverKevin and Rob, who own the site, do a bang-up job in terms of providing tourists with a quality experience. The guys work really hard, outdoors in the cold. For example, today it rained or misted from the moment we got up until about 6 pm. We were wet all day but not cold — only because we were working hard physically. We lugged buckets of water and sand most of the day. Imagine doing this all day everyday. The life of a prospector. Yet, perhaps the majority of people on Earth still do backbreaking work every day. What are we doing to make their lives better? Do they have choices?

I think about the research Missouri Botanical Garden does all over the world, often in developing countries. We continue to make major commitments to train and educate local people wherever we work, so our work is collaborative, not extractivist. Basic plant research and conservation is critical for healthy communities. Our mission is to "discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment, in order to enrich and preserve life".

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Photo: Ellen McCallie
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