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Loegering Discusses Spring Bird Migration on Grand Forks News

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jloegeri.jpgFish, Wildlife and Conservation Education Specialist, Dr. John Loegering was featured yesterday night in a Grand Forks televsion news story about spring bird migration in the Red River Valley. According to Loegering, birds migrate to Minnesota each year to find precious habitat resources to raise their young. Song and other bird species should be returning to the state over the next few weeks.

Visit the University of Minnesota Extension Fish, wildlife, and habitats site to learn more about bird natural history and attracting birds.

The 2014 Minnesota Master Naturalist Annual Conference is fast approaching. It will be held at Camp Friendship in Annandale, MN on May 16-18. This annual conference typically involves around 100 Master Naturalist volunteers and instructors, and fulfills their annual requirement for continuing natural history education.

The 2014 confernce will encompass three days of hands-on learning in conference and field sessions. Keynotes include Dr. Lee Frelich and Dr. James Francisco Bonilla. Preconference workshops will focus on tracking MN phenology, exploring pollinators, and teaching initiative-building activitires.

Visit the Annual Conference Site to learn more about and register for this event.

New Videos Explore Youth Research Based on Citizen Science

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In three new videos on the University of Minnesota Extension You Tube Channel, young researchers describe their experiences studying birds and Monarch caterpillars last summer. Sparked through their involvement in the NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science project, these youth worked with trained adult leaders and University of Minnesota science faculty to design and carry-out their own investigations.

In the first video, a youth discussed how she investigated the question "How does a constant daily temperature versus fluctuating (one day 90 degrees, one day 63 degrees) temperature affect the growth of a cecropia moth caterpillar?"

In a second video, youth describe how they designed a study to explore the question "Are more birds spending most of their time in the lagoon, sky, ground, or trees and poles?"

In the third video, youth discuss how they investigated the question "Are more birds spending most of their time in the lagoon, sky, ground, or trees and poles?"

The NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science project seeks to expand the reach of Citizen Science for youth. Typically, citizen science--or public involvement science--involves the general public in collecting data that can be analyzed and interpreted by professional scientists. Illustrated in the new video, this project carries citizen science a step further, enabling youth to design, carry out, and even report on their own research questions under the mentorship of science advisors at the University of Minnesota. By giving young researchers the freedom and responsibility to design their own projects, they gain a greater understanding and appreciation for science, and will grow to see themselves as scientists.

CLICK to learn more about Driven to Discover: Enabling Antuentic Inquiry through Citizen Science.

CLICK to watch other Citizen Science videos on the University of Minnesota Extension YouTube Channel.

Barbara JS.jpgCongratulations to Barbara Jacobs-Smith, an adult leader for the NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science project. She has been granted a sabbatical from her teaching position to volunteer at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with their Bird Sleuth curriculum. Her work will support the Cornell Lab staff through creating lessons and activities that help youth learn diversity and science process.

Ms. Jacobs-Smith has been an Extension Adult Leader for three years with Driven to Discover, collecting data and conducting science investigations with her 4th, 5th, and 6th grade Breck Birders group. Asked how her participation in Driven to Discover helped get her to the Lab, Barbara explained, "It is through my association with D2D that I was able to make the connections that allowed me to successfully contact The Cornell Lab of Ornithology." Drs. Robert Blair and Karen Oberhauser, University of Minnesota Extension specialists in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education, introduced Jacobs-Smith to staff at the Cornell Lab, and provided positive recommendations of her work. The Driven to Discover Annual Research Summit also provided Cornell staff the opportunity to see Barbara's leadership in-action. In her words, "Weeks later, my D2D research team, the Breck Birders, were presenting their project at the Ecology Fair at the University of MN. A man I did not know came up to me and asked if I was the adult leader of the Breck Birders. He introduced himself. He was Rick Bonney, Director, Program Development and Evaluation at the Cornell Lab. Bonney is credited with coining the term 'citizen science' in the 1990s and launched the eBird website in 2002. He was very impressed with the Breck Birders' project and with their presentation, which he witnessed. He told me he was aware of the invitation Jennifer Fee had extended to me to work at the Lab. He went on to say that he would very much like me to come to the Lab to work and learn. He thought that there was a lot I could do to support the work they are doing there."

Barbara credits her participation in Driven to Discover and the Minnesota Master Naturalist program as giving her the tools to help students practice authentic science. Master Naturalist provided her with specific information and a deeper understanding of the biomes in which she teaches. Driven to Discover provided her with skills and activities to engage her students in science investigation. Jacobs-Smith said, "The D2D program gave me the tools to allow my students to behave as professional scientists do. I believe it has helped move my instruction from merely telling students about science to helping them become scientists. The information is very important, but it's what children do with that information that makes the difference. It is the difference between knowing and understanding, the difference between seeing themselves as passive recipients of information or as scientists themselves."

We wish Barbara Jacobs-Smith all the best during her 2014-15 opportunity to work at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and look forward to her continued participation in University of Minnesota Extension programming. Visit the program site to learn more about Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science.

Competition for Conservation?

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According to a recent post in the Cornell Chronicle, Janis Dickinson, professor of natural resources and director of citizen science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, believes that healthy competition among citizen science volunteers may be a good thing for conservation. She is managing the new YardMap.org, a project that enables participants to add details about a specific site (e.g., their yard) to Google Maps and link to bird monitoring data in eBird.org. Users can also commit to adopting habitat conservation actions, such as adding feeders or keeping cats away from the birds. YardMap aims to help participants learn about, actually enact, and showcase more bird friendly habitat. In the words of Dickenson, "If everybody reduced their lawn size, had a greater diversity of structure and vegetation types, had berry-producing plants, and if this were done over a larger area of land, say an entire town, this could create one large patch of relatively high-quality habitat."

Sign up or learn more at the YardMap.org site. This is a great service opportunity for Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteers or Driven to Discover: Enabling Youth Inquiry through Citizen Science adult leaders. Learn more about these programs at the University of Minnesota Extension Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education website.

Oberhauser Discusses Monarch Survey in Star Tribune

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EXT_PHOTO_OBERH001.jpgFish, Wildlife and Conservation Education Specialist, Dr. Karen Oberhauser was featured in an article about recently released results of an annual survey of Monarch overwintering colonies in Mexico. The 2014 results suggest alarming decline in the population of the migratory butterflies - just 1.7 acres of overwintering colonies, down from an average trend of between 20-30 acres. Weather, climate change, and natural pests have all influenced this trend. However, Oberhauser points to habitat loss as a significant driver for this decline.

Efforts to restore and create new Monarch habitat can make a difference. Oberhauser explains in the article that restoring summer breeding habitat in Minnesota and other U.S. regions to a point where winter colonies occupy 7.5-10 acres could sustain the population.

Visit the MonarchWatch website to learn more and get supplies to create your own Monarch Waystation habitat. Visit the University of Minnesota Extension Minnesota Master Naturalist or Citizen Science websites to learn more and get involved in programs focused on natural resources conservation service.

Check Out InformalScience.org Online Access to Research

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Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education team members take seriously the application of research to design/deliver effective informal science education programs like Minnesota Master Naturalist and Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science. We are therefore pleased that the online professional network, InformalScience.org has announced a new agreement to provide members with access to the EBSCO Education Research database. This database covers thousands of journals and research articles to guide practitioners in making the most of their program design/delivery.

You have to be a member of the network to access the online research site. There is no charge to join InformalScience.org.

You can also learn more about Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education programs at the University of Minnesota Education website.

Human design for Wildlife: It's Complicated

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In an interesting post on the Nature of Cities forum, Dr. Mark Hostetler of the University of Florida describes how human design decisions influence decisions by wildlife. In short, it is much more complicated than simply preserving nature spaces or establishing wildlife migratory corridors wherever most convenient in our human landscape. Dr. Hostetler points out that effective design must begin with asking "For which wildlife species?" Different species will react differently to a given space - the space topography, relative size and position of things like trees or bushes, the proximity of more human spaces. In Dr. Hostetler's words, "There is a direct connection between the design decisions made at different scales and the distribution of wildlife species within a region!" Moreover, he points out that these decisions are only the beginning. Nearby residents should be involved in the design, but also the long-term stewardship and refinement of human-designed sites for wildlife.

The University of Minnesota Extension offers a variety of research and resources to help Minnesotan's design for wildlife. Dr. Robert Blair, Extension Specialist in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education has research in review about the value of park reserves to migrating landbirds in an urban area. Extension Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education Specialist, Dr. John Loegering operates a monitoring station to better understand how songbirds migrate through edges of prairies. Visit the Fish, Wildlife and Habitats website for information about University of Minnesota research, the natural history of Minnesota plants and animals, attracting wildlife to yards and gardens, or dealing with nuisance wildlife.

How will the Polar Vortex Affect Invasive Wildlife?

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Many of us are ready to welcome a January Thaw, after days of polar vortex deepfreeze earlier this week. But the sustained cold weather has fueled hopes for significant reduction of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer population in the coming year. Eli Sagor, University of Minnesota Extension Educator in Forestry, posted a brief article Will winter cold save us from emerald ash borer? on MyMinnesotaWoods.umn.edu. In his words, "Even if we lose a lot of EAB this winter, we will not lose them all. Many will survive, either because they are fortunate enough to be in a relatively warm spot (temperature can vary fairly widely across the landscape based on wind exposure, aspect, topographic position, and so on) or because they are more cold hardy than most. These survivors will find each other and begin to rebuild the population."

Visit MyMinnesotaWoods.umn.edu to read the full article.

As a bonus, you can also read a CoolGreenScience blog post by Matt Miller, Nature Conservancy Science Writer, about how the fridged temps may affect other wildlife across the country.

Minnesotans with backyard ice rinks may want to join a Canadian citizen science study - RinkWatch - aiming to gather climate data. According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, a team of scientists, lead by Robert McLeman at Wilfrid Laurier University are working with over 1000 volunteers to gather observations about skating conditions on backyard rinks across Canada, the United States and other countries. They aim to pool data across sites to track changes in weather over the winter season. RinkWatch volunteers can also share tips for making their rinks, and photos of their sites.

RinkWatch is a great example of how science can become a productive part of our existing traditions and outdoor activities.

Visit the RinkWatch site to learn more about the program, explore participant observations, or sign-on.

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