Diana Renn

Mysteries that Matter


Meet Sarah Kollar!

Sarah Kollar is the manager of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup™ (ICC), the world’s largest single day volunteer effort for our ocean. The ICC started on a single beach in Texas in 1986 and has since mobilized millions of volunteers in more than 150 countries to remove approximately 340 million pounds of trash from beaches and waterways around the world. What makes the ICC so special is its focus on community science: in addition to collecting trash, volunteers log every item they find, helping Ocean Conservancy build the world’s largest marine debris database. By collecting this data, volunteers help scientists, policymakers, and others better understand the ocean plastic problem and help them to solve it. Sarah has loved marine ecosystems for many years, having grown up along the Great Lakes and now enjoys working with partners all over the world to make coastal -and inland- cleanups for the ICC possible.







Meet our first #RealLifeBackyardRanger, Victoria (Tori) Fox!


Tori is a restoration ecologist from the coast of the Salish Sea, Washington. She works to fight invasive plants in her community in order to save rare plants and animals from extinction. Victoria recently traveled from Washington to a distant, uninhabited atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, exploring new species of seabirds, reef fish, and tropical plants along the way. On Palmyra Atoll, Victoria and other scientists tackle fields of palm seedlings with their machetes to make space for native forest plants that seabirds prefer for nesting, such as the Pisonia grandis seedling pictured in this photo with Victoria. You can support Tori and her work by visiting the Nature Conservancy and TNC Hawaii and Palmyra.



We are officially one month away from the launch of Trouble at Turtle Pond, out from Fitzroy Books / Regal House on April 5!

This whole process of researching, writing, selling, and marketing this book has turned me into a conservationist, though I’m still learning how to be one. I don’t have a science background, so it took me awhile to learn that you don’t have to have a Ph.D or really any special training to be a conservationist. Anyone can be one! And lots of creative people can be “creative conservationists,” using their art to raise awareness of creatures that need our help.


That’s why I’m launching a series called Real Life Backyard Rangers on the blog and Instagram. It’s inspired by the Backyard Rangers in Trouble at Turtle Pond.




In Trouble at Turtle Pond, eleven-year-old Miles joins a group of self-appointed young wildlife rangers on his street, who call themselves the “Backyard Rangers.” They live adjacent to a wildlife refuge, but since they can’t always go there without parents, they focus on protecting creatures who occasionally travel outside of the bounds of the refuge and into their neighborhood . . . like nesting Blanding’s turtles, who need some help crossing roads. When they aren’t helping turtles, they run a ranger station out of a cardboard box, sell lemonade to raise money for a field biologist, and educate the public about local wildlife. Their main mission: speaking up for the creatures who cannot speak, and helping people pay attention to – and protect! – these creatures. 

The Rangers are essentially doing community science work even as they investigate a mystery involving the turtles. The more community science work they do – protecting their nests, tracking their whereabouts – the more clues they uncover. The more clues they uncover, the more they commit to their community science and, eventually, their activism. 

I got inspired to do community science work when my son’s fourth-grade class took care of Blanding’s turtle hatchlings several years ago. My son became deeply interested in them, and this became a family activity even after school ended as we joined a conservation group in tracking turtles to locate nests and protect eggs. We then fostered ten tiny turtle hatchlings in our home for a month. This experience changed our lives. My son went on to give presentations about his community science work, and went on to help other types of animals in other programs. And I wrote a book! 


Although my characters are fictitious, I wrote this book in part to make visible the very real work that conservationists do – scientists and non-scientists alike. To celebrate the sometimes invisible work that conservationists and community scientists do, I will be spotlighting a Real Life Backyard Ranger with a photo, bio, and inspiring quote. You’ll learn about these people, all kinds of animals, and organizations all over North America that are helping them. 

Here’s a sneak peak of our first Real Life Backyard Ranger, Tori Fox, who works with the Nature Conservancy. Tune in to Instagram next Thursday to learn more about Tori’s work! I hope you enjoy this series, which will post every Thursday, and please feel free to share!

Another important note: a great way to support authors with their launches is by pre-ordering the book, which you can do here. Pre-orders are super important. They help create some buzz around books so that retailers get excited about them and know to stock them in stores. So if you are in a position to pre-order, please know that every book counts, and I really do appreciate it! And if you’re not able, another thing that really helps is requesting that your local library carry the book!