Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Conservation-minded tooth fairies...

I could not wait to write this post. I have a great tale for you that actually occured during our Octber 15th and 16th Great School Escapes. It goes something like this.

Participant: "I've lost 2 teeth in the past 2 days."
Staff member: "Do you have a tooth fairy?"
Participant: "Yes"
Staff member: "Did he or she come?"
Participant: "Not yet. I lost the first tooth yesterday and the second one this morning, so she's saving her energy and coming for both of them tonight."
Staff member: "Really. What do you mean by she's saving her energy?"
Participant: "You know, instead of coming once for each tooth she's only coming one time for both teeth. She's using less gas in her car that way."

Okay, I just thought that was the best answer ever.

Getting back to business, all 3 of Saturday's programs went very well. Girl Scout day was a success with 40 girls earning badges. Make a Difference Day also went well, but I'll let Hayes tell you more about that. The HeadStart on science fair also went really well.

As a staff we are super excited about Fright Night on the Trail this Friday from 5-7pm. Alysse has written a great lesson plan and we'll be learning all about owls, bats, spiders, and worms. Science song-writer, Mark Wesson, will also be back to serenade us in some nature songs. All ages are welcome, so RSVP soon for a great night of Halloween fun!

Don't forget about Nature F.A.D. (a program for fathers/father figures and daughters) on Saturday, November 7th. We also still have a few slots left in our November 30th Great School Escape. As always for more info on our programs, check out our website at www.cnr.colostate.edu/elc.

Have another great week!

Make a Difference Day

Some of you may have heard of, or even have been involved in, the United Way's 2009 "Make a Difference Day," a national day of volunteer service during which groups of volunteers pair up with local agencies to participate in projects aimed at development of the community. This past weekend, the Environmental Learning Center was fortunate enough to be a part of MAD Day 2009, when we hosted three groups of volunteers from the Fort Collins community. Members of Timberline Church, The Meeting Place, and Mountain View Community Church, as well as a handful of students from the CSU Key Service Community awoke extra early Saturday morning in the cold and dark to help finalize our organic garden for winter. The day consisted of hand tilling soil, mixing loads of our home grown compost, and covering garden beds with mulch in order to protect from the cold winter months.
The turnout for MAD day 2009 was great, and our volunteers completed the project much quicker than expected. On the whole, the day was full of fun and hard work, and I'm glad the ELC could participate in a program facilitating so much community interaction and service learning.
Our next opportunity for service at the ELC will be this Saturday, October 31st, or HALLOWEEN in other words! From 10am to 1pm volunteers will be reconstructing and maintaining the infamous trail system at the Nature Center, and improving the naturalness of our public grounds. I hope we will see just as many bright smiling faces in the cold and dark, ready to work for a few short hours in the morning. Also don't forget our Halloween Fright Night this Friday from 5pm to 7pm. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In the thick of it.

Well, folks, we are three days into this glorious week. Three programs down (2 of which were all day affairs) and 7 more to go! Yep, you heard that right, 7 more to go! In fact, just this morning, George, Priscilla, and I were teaching a great group of 1st graders about plants. What a fun way to start my day!

This weekend we have Girl Scout Day for Brownie and Junior scouts. We'll be learning all about the elements. We also have Make a Difference Day, a city-wide day of service. Folks will be coming out to help us continue winterization of our garden and remove some pesky invasive plants. And, finally, we will have a table at Headstart on Science, a program for headstart families in Fort Collins.

Looking ahead a bit, we are gearing up for Halloween Fright Night on the Trail, taking place on Friday, October 30 from 5-7pm. We're going to learn all about owls, bats, and other critters that have become popular symbols of halloween. Participants are encouraged to wear their costumes (we sure will be), and we'll be handing out candy (of course).

Okay, I feel like this blog post has been a little dry. Let's end with a joke. Why did the lichens break off their relationship? It was on the rocks.

Ah ha ha. Until next week!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Snow and Mink Sightings!

Unfortunately several programs were cancelled last week due to the cold weather and snow. I'm a big fan of the seasons, but I can't say I'm ready for snow...especially during our busiest month! The wet weather put a damper on Cub Scout day, but don't worry all you merit-badge seekers, we're working on a reschedule date!

Luckily the skies are drier this week and our programs are all scheduled to go off as planned. Our Great School Escapes take place on Thursday and Friday. I am super excited about them as Brittany, Fumie, and Carolyn jam-packed them full of unique activities and a lot of outdoor romping time. I am even getting out of the office to help out on Thursday...woo-hoo!

Though this weekend is program-less (giving our staff a bit of time to breath), we have a lot of cool events coming up. Girl Scout Day takes place a week from Saturday on the 24th. Our Halloween Fright Night on the Trail happens on the 30th and our monthly Service Saturday is going to be held on the 31st (perhaps we'll see some witches using their magic to rid the ELC of the invasive Russian Olive tree).

We have some exciting critter sightings to report. Three different people have spotted mink at the ELC within the past two weeks. One of the sightings was reported by our very own program staff member, Ally Eden. According to Ally the mink ran along side her, stopped, stared her in the eyes, jumped into the river, and ran away. "How was she sure it was a mink and not a muskrat?" you ask. Well, it had a fluffy tail! Again I am super jealous and think it is time for me to start spending more time out there again instead of in front of this computer.

Have a great week everybody and don't forget to get outside with your family and friends this weekend. It's supposed to be very nice!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Yellow Jackets and Boy Scouts

Yes! As mentioned below, the Environmental Learning Center recently became under attack by a rabid swarm of yellow jackets. Crazy! The hive in question was RIGHT next to the trail entrance, and sought after following a series of stings reported by patrons and staff members. The account that follows has in no way been fabricated and the terror of the hornets was deathly(hardly). It began with a search for the nest of the beasts by, yours truly, and the bee slaying bombardier Dr. Brett L. Bruyere. Together we constructed makeshift yellow jacket-proof suits, pulling all the stops to prevent further infliction by the hoards of buzzing jackets, in an attempt to locate their source. Next we precariously attempted to mitigate the stinging swarm with our very own what-do-we-have-on-hand homemade insecticide; a clever combination of sand, dirt, and a vinegar soaked rag. After burying the nest, it was discovered that the yellow jackets, in a style comparable to Houdini, survived being buried alive and were none the happier about their mud bath vinegar shower. Next an attempt was made with fire and water, when George Foster(G-Fo) aided the good doctor Brett Lawrence Bruyere(B-Law-B) in first burning the nest in a frenzied affair and then dousing it under a torrential flood. Still, however, G-Fo and the BLawB failed in removing the enemy, and only strengthened their thirst for vengeance. In the end a professional yellow jacket-trapping device was used, and I assure you dear readers, the Y-jacks are no more. Amazingly it took being buried, burned, and flooded for them o finally buzz off, oh yeah and some vinegar.

In other news, this weekend’s program, “Owl Long Will it Take” went off without a hitch and was a huge success! Families traveled back in time to experience history firsthand when they visited various points along the path of Fort Collins unique cultural past. Native American traditions blended with Civil War era battle camps to produce an event that proved to truly be one for the ages. Big thanks to everyone who was involved!

Always be prepared, as they say in the Scouts. This Saturday, October 10th is Cub Scout Day at the Environmental Learning Center, so mark your calendar for a day full of merit badge earning and environmental learning from 10a.m. to 3p.m. Cubs, Bears, and Webelos are invited, as is anyone interested in Scouting around the nature center. Hope to see you there!