About Jackson Helms

Having adventures or saving the world may seem impossible.  It is easy to forget, trapped in our homes, that anything ever written, anything we see online or on TV, was inspired by something that existed somewhere or sometime.  Leaving our ruts is difficult, scary or impractical, but always rewarding.  The world is still here, but it is changing.

I’m a former Marine turned biologist and conservationist.  I’ve spent the last decade studying cultures, landscapes and organisms.  I prefer to use the word explore in the most casual sense, to encourage observation and discovery in even the most mundane situations.  My explorations started as an Arabic linguist in the Marines, continued through phases of travel and self-discovery, and include my current forays into ecology and myrmecology—the study of ants.  This blog is an attempt to share the story of my transition to a career in science.

M2M follows my trajectory from combat Marine...

The content of my posts varies.  I may write about my deployments to Iraq as a Marine or long homeless rambles abroad; describe my research or publications; detail pains and misfortunes of biological fieldwork; or describe trips ranging from small private expeditions to large collaborations with conservation organizations to dramatic adventures.  No matter the content, I follow the guiding themes of place, nature, people and discovery.

...to scientist (photo by Alex Wild)

I want to make a difference.  But I’m unsure of myself and the steps I take.  If you enjoy experiencing places and landscapes, seek motivation for your own discoveries, want to sympathize with a fellow veteran, researcher or wanderer, or if you just know me and wonder what I’m up to, please follow along.  I hope you enjoy it!



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  2. Truly inspiring. These posts motivate me to continue in my own conservation efforts. I feel pretty lucky that you are my family. I can pick you're brain about all this and you cant do anything about it :p I am going to promote this blog to friends of mine that want to make a difference somehow, but feel stuck in a rut. I would love to explore around the world! but there really is SO much to discover and learn in you're own backyard! Just last week while working in my jungle (garden) I unearthed a femur and jaw bone of a canid species. Not domestic dog. Possibly coyote. All you have to do is look :) the closest I have been to Iraq is my peers feeling quite certain I am Chaldean, I am not, by the way. Anyway, I am highly intrigued and cant wait to read more! proud of you!

  3. Jackson, I loved your post on fire ants and purple martins. At 69 years old and newly retired from 43 plus years in public health (which followed ~2 years as a draftee in 1969-1971) I am immersing myself in the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. I love learning in old age even though I won't have that much time to share it forward. Thank you for what you have done and especially what you are doing! aubrey wiggins - www.frombluebirdstoturtles.blospot.com

    1. Thanks so much, Aubrey! It's always good to hear from another veteran naturalist. I'm glad you liked the fire ant post. It was an exciting and unpredictable project. I checked out your blog this morning. Great photos and natural history notes!

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