Self-described naturalist and plant-lover Joel Tuhy has been giving free presentations about native Utah wildflowers for the past 11 years – each year there’s a different theme and something new to learn.
Using an old 1981 Nikon film camera, Tuhy has taken approximately 2,000 photographs, sometimes scrambling in precarious places to capture rare plant species.
“The challenge every year is selecting from my huge batch of pictures and thinking of a theme I can use that ties it all together,” Tuhy said.
Tuhy chooses about 200 slides and weaves them into a relevant narrative for his presentations whose themes include colors, habitats and seasons. Last year’s talk was called “Wildflowers of 12 Moons.”
This year’s lecture is titled “Wildflowers that are Planimals” – plants that are named for animals, or whose names reference an animal. The free presentation will be held on Thursday, April 7, at 6 p.m. at the Moab Information Center, which is located at the corner of Main and Center streets.
“Joel has a talent for being able to reach a broad audience, talking about nature in a way everyone can relate to,” The Nature Conservancy Canyonlands Regional Director Sue Bellagamba said.
Bellagamba is such a fan that she’s attended all of his presentations over the years – even twice on some occasions, when he repeated talks in Salt Lake City and at a private showing for a group of friends.
“Joel has a great dry sense of humor and he knows how to tell a story and keep you on the edge of your seat,” Bellagamba said. “People always come away learning something new about a plant species in the Moab area. Besides the fact, there are also gorgeous photos.”
Former Brigham Young University herbarium director Steve Welsh named a plant after Tuhy in 1984, after the naturalist collected a batch of the flowers on a field trip to the La Sal Mountains. Tuhy was the first to document the purple flowering plant dubbed “Tuhy’s Breadroot.” It was deemed a variety of an existing species, Tuhy said.
As conservation science director for the Utah Chapter of The Nature Conservancy’s Moab Project Office, Tuhy provides scientific support to staff members for their conservation projects. He also volunteers his time giving free wildflower presentations to the community.
Moab Information Center manager Sharon Kienzle has attended the last five of Tuhy’s presentations, and she recommends coming early, as his presentations are among the MIC’s most popular events.
“Whether you’re a botanist or (a layperson) there’s something for everyone,” Bellagamba said.
The Museum of Moab and Canyonlands Natural History Association are sponsoring the wildflower presentation at the MIC.
The center is a multi-agency facility run by the Canyonlands Natural History Association, a nonprofit organization that supports national parks and public lands in southeastern Utah. It partners with the Bureau of Land Management, Grand County, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.
Free April 7 lecture at MIC focuses on unique wildflowers
“Joel has a great dry sense of humor and he knows how to tell a story and keep you on the edge of your seat … People always come away learning something new about a plant species in the Moab area.”
When: Thursday, April 7, at 6 p.m.
Where: Moab Information Center, corner of Center and Main streets
For more information, call 435-259-6003.