Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ah...the calm before the storm...err, I mean program madness!

This past weekend was as busy as most fall weekends around the ELC. On Friday we had 4 different programs going on! On Saturday we joined other informal science educators at the Northern Colorado Birding Fair where we had kiddos and adults exploring bird beak adaptations! We also had our monthly Service Saturday, but I'll let Hayes, the service guru, tell you all about that.

In contrast, this week has been relatively calm...but as referenced in the post's title, this is that eerie calm before the storm! We have programs scheduled on nearly every day of October. Unlike the spooky calm green skies before a real storm, however, our staff are cheerfully planning these upcoming programs. When this storm hits there will only be floods of fun and lightning flashes of learning!

Get your feet wet in all this program madness starting this Friday at our Full Moon Program. Mark Wesson will be leading us in songs about nature and science around the campfire. On Saturday we have another program for families - Owl Long Will it Take?

In other news, our October Great School Escapes are full! We are also busily planning our Halloween Fright Night (mark your calendars for the evening of October 30).

Last Friday I helped facilitate a teacher training and happened to find a black widow spider while on my lunch break. I was super psyched and slightly creeped out. You know that feeling when you catch something weird in a jar and you are almost scared to touch the jar? Luckily my curiosity was too high to allow my fear to get the best of me. That sucker was really cool!

Last Thursday the ELC staff got together for our first staff bonding of the year. We played a great game about gold miners. We got to romp around our property and find 'gold' while avoiding 'robbers' - so much fun. We did, however, have two people injured - with yellow jacket stings. The injured were honorary staff member, Kaija Stafford (my 17 month old daughter) and new program staff member, Gemara (who was stung not once, but six times). All are fine, but the same can't be said for the yellow jacket nest. Yes, we love all living creatures, but we can't have yellow jackets hanging around the entrance to our trails, so Brett and Hayes took it upon themselves to remove the suckers...I'll let Hayes tell you about Operation Yellow Jacket and I'll make sure he shows you the picture of he and Brett in their Operation Yellow Jacket uniforms (its a really good one, I promise).

Hope to see you on Friday and Saturday!

Monday, September 21, 2009

What a Weekend!!!

This weekend started off with our staff preparing for the 10th annual Sustainable Living Fair here in Fort Collins. The CSU Environmental Learning Center was well represented on both Saturday and Sunday by staff members Tommy "The Taskmaster" Rokita, the "Very Vivacious" Veronica Kinn, Alysse "I'll Be There!" Brice, Hayes "Have you seen my ELC shirt?" Seubert, Carolyn "Woman in Control" Wilson, and Fumie the "Furiously Fastidious" Hiromitsu. These fine ELC-ers made it their mission to bring the noise to the community in terms of our awesome upcoming fall programs. Parents and children alike were enamoured by our science/wildlife display as well as our mad cognitive/emotional poster board skills, while various random visitors inquired about our Mink, which became a reoccuring confirmation throughout the day. It might also be pertinent to note that our furs on display were donated by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and that these animals were NOT tortured and murdered helplessly just so we could gaze upon their beautiful pelts, as one rather obtuse gentlemen was convinced. Regardless, the Sustainability Fair was a lot of fun and a huge help in outreach to the community.

Also this weekend, our Nature Center got a makeover thanks to the help of Collin "The Craftsman" Jacobsen, who constructed entirely new shelves on which to organize our millions of educational tools and tid-bits(a much needed improvement at the ELC). Collin has also been working on shoring up loose boards on the suspension bridge, replacing split-rail fence posts, and basically fixing whatever is made of wood using his excellent carpentry skills. The ELC garden also got some overdue attention on Friday, when volunteers helped harvest some of the final vegetables of the season, adding to our total harvest of 850+ pounds(YEAH!). Work went into winterproofing the garden for the upcoming months and preparing our compost pile for and even better season next spring. We also came across the largest caterpillar I've ever seen, which I was informed, was actually a Tomato Hornworm, a common garden pest that defoliates garden plants including Tomatoes, Potatoes, Eggplants and Peppers. Check it out!

In other news, the very first Great School Escape of this fall is happening NOW, Monday September 21st at the Nature Center. Today's program involves "Using Good Sense," and provides kids an opportunity for fun and learning using all five senses. Remember parents, when school is canceled its ELC to the rescue! Our next scheduled escape is scheduled for October 15th and 16th, Thursday and Friday so sign up soon.

This Saturday September 26th is also our first Service Saturday of this fall! The last Saturday of every month is reserved for volunteer help at the Nature Center, so come out and lend a hand from 10am to 2pm with varous projects and improvements at the ELC. Hope to see you There!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Great School Escapes, Snapping Turtles and Tons of New Staff!

Happy Tuesday everyone! Our Fall programs are in full swing. Using Good Sense, our first Great School Escape of the semester takes place next Monday and is completely full! We're going to have a great time exploring the 5 senses that we share with other animals and other senses that some animals have that we don't. Our October 15, October 16, and November 30 Great School Escapes only have a few spots left. So, sign those kiddos up now!

In other news, a snapping turtle was spotted on our trails last week. When I heard this I was so jealous. I have worked here for six years now and have never seen a turtle on our property - beaver, muskrats, deer, coyote, and the ever-elusive stray cat family, but never a turtle! It's time to hit the trails by the river and put my turtle-detecting skills to work!

Parents, you may have noticed some new faces at the ELC lately. We have eleven new staff members on board this year! More than half of our previous staff graduated in the spring, so Brett and I had to go on a hiring spree. Rosemary, Alysse, Ally, Carolyn, Emily, Priscilla, Gemara, and Veronica have joined our program staff. Collin and Sean have joined our maintenance/volunteer management staff. In addition, graduate student, Kate, is our new Diversity Outreach Coordinator. These new folks will be learning the ropes from our returning staff members - George, Hayes, Tommy, Brittany, Joanna, and Fumie. As always, the ELC has attracted the best and the brightest in our college (and even a few from some other colleges on campus).

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

We're blogging!

Hi ELC fans! We've started a blog so parents, volunteers or anyone who is just curious can be kept more regularly up to date on what's going on at the ELC. Parents can check on the latest program registration information; volunteers can see what opportunities are coming up for donating their time; and anyone who's interested can get a better idea of what's going on in the day-to-day world at our organization!

The bloggers for this our Nicole Stafford, our program director; and Hayes Seubert, our volunteer and service coordinator. Nicole has been around for awhile; she started at the ELC almost seven years ago as one of environmental educators. Hayes, on the other hand, has been around just a few months and has learned the ropes!

Nicole: We're now entrenched in our Fall program season after a successful summer of day camps and gardening. Great School Escapes are scheduled for all four Poudre School District in-service and parent conference days, and registration is in full swing. If you want to register your child, do it soon! The slots are filling up, and the first date is just two weeks away on September 21.

We also have our second Picnic on the Poudre event this Saturday (Sept 12) from 11am-3pm at Magpie Meander Natural Area. We'll have activities, food, supplies, and programs led in Spanish as well. Join us! The price couldn't be better (free!).

Hayes: Our garden has produced nearly 800 pounds (the equivalent of one gorilla) of organically grown produce for the Food Bank of Larimer County. Volunteers, we need you to help us harvest the last of it before the first frost; there are more tomatoes and zucunni to come. We had our first-ever "Garden Happy Hour" this past Friday and came up with a few more boxes worth of produce, followed by some true happy hour appetizers and relaxation. The next one is Friday, September 18 from 4-6pm. Join us!! Overall, our focus the next month will be on late-season harvesting and then closing up the garden for the season.

Enjoy the three day weekend. More blogging to come!