1. PWLC News
Autumn on the Prairie
We enjoyed a dry, sunny, and warm fall in September and October. Our wetlands have now frozen over and we have a few inches of snow on the ground with temperatures more like January. Bird migration is finishing up with blackbirds, geese including "cacklers," ducks, hawks, and bald eagles making their way south. American tree sparrows and common redpolls, two winter resident species, have made the scene preceded by juncos. We are noticing more deer and muskrats this fall than in summer or even the previous years. Now when we travel off-trail we flush up the occasional meadow vole. Our late blooming flowers are all finished. How is fall progressing in your school yard, backyard, refuge, or park? As our national day of thanks approaches, what are you thankful for in nature?
Scheduling Your Class
A brief reminder that when contacting the PWLC to book your dates here, please call Terrie Eidal at 218-998-4481. You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Terrie handles all of our calendar scheduling for all groups visiting the PWLC. Thank you!
Yellow Bus Fund
At the PWLC, students have the chance to explore a prairie, sample the life of a wetland, and discover the beauty of a vanishing landscape. The Friends of the PWLC feel all schools should be able to visit the PWLC regardless of funding. Thanks to a grant they secured, the Friends provide up to 50% reimbursement for classes that cannot otherwise afford to visit. The funds pay for transportation to and from the Center for both daytime and overnight visits. For more information, contact Terrie Eidal at the PWLC at 218-998-4481.
A Better Season for Monarchs
The PWLC experienced its 5th best tagging season this past August and September since tagging started 16 years ago! A total of 170 volunteers tagged a total of 402 monarchs, 214 females and 188 males. Of the 402 monarchs tagged, 62 were reared in captivity. (Graph that data with your class.) The jury is still out on the current monarch status internationally. You can help monarchs by tagging (thanks!!!), growing milkweed and other native prairie flowers in your yard or on your land, and avoiding mowing and spraying milkweed if you can. Monarchs need it! Visit http://monarchwatch.org for more info and great ideas like becoming an monarch waystation. For more PWLC monarch data that you can use with your students, please see the background section in our 2nd grade fall lesson, http://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/2ndMonarchs.pdf.
Tips for Dressing Warm in the Cold
Tried and true tips from the PWLC and the Prairie Science Class, students and teachers who use the outdoor classroom almost every day, even in winter!
- Layer your clothing -- long johns work wonders as well as sweaters and sweat shirts over turtlenecks or long-sleeved t-shirts.
- Tuck your shirt into your pants to avoid that up-the-back drafty chill or snow.
- Mittens are warmer than gloves because your fingers can directly share body heat. Better yet, layer a thin pair of mittens under a heavy pair of mittens.
- Wear real socks. No footies, no anklets. Knee-length socks are best. Thick winter socks beat athletic socks hands-down.
- Use everything you've got - snaps, Velcro, hoods, and zip all the way to the top of the coat collar to cover your neck and chest.
- A scarf or face mask protects exposed cheeks from wind and frost nip and seals the space where the hood joins the coat collar.
- Bib overall snow pants are warmer and more effective at keeping out the cold and snow than regular snow pants.
- Look for snow pants with built in gaiters and tuck those gaiters into your boots. Fasten the boots and then pull the ends of your snow pants down over your boots to keep snow from sneaking inside.
- Once back inside, remove boots and boot liners so they can dry out before the next use (they do get sweaty).
Our visitor services manager, Matt Conner, accepted a position at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and moved there with his family in August. They are thoroughly enjoying the scenery and wildlife! While we are glad for their incredible opportunity, we also miss them as the whole family was involved with the PWLC. We wish them all the best in their new life! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of filling Matt's position - we'll update you in the winter newsletter.
Nature at Night, Thursday, December 11, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Dress for an outdoor adventure searching for the PWLC's largest mammal, the white-tailed deer. Come back inside for a Backyard Almanac on white-tails, meet the deer family tree, and make an antler head band to wear home. You can also do some holiday shopping in the Bluestem Store. The store is operated by the Friends of the PWLC, and proceeds from your purchases stay local to help support education at the PWLC. All ages are welcome, and it's free!
2015 Workshops for Educators and the Public
Mark your calendars for these upcoming, free professional development and enrichment opportunities at the PWLC. We provide clock hours certificates for any teachers who participate. For more info or to register, call 218-998-4480 or email email@example.com.
March 28 Wildlife through the Lens, 9 am - 12 noon
Capture the beauty of wildlife and nature through a camera lens. Bring your own camera or use ours. Call to register. Free.
July 10 Fireflies at Night, 10 pm - 11 pm
Learn how and why nature's fireworks light up the sky, collect them outside and examine them up close! Free.
July 20-23 Teaching in the Outdoor Classroom, see below for details.
July 24 Moths at Midnight 10 pm-11:30 pm
Discover the nocturnal life of moths & explore in the field with lights Free.
October 17 Intro to Birding, 10 am - noon
All about birds ... families welcome! Call to register. Free.
Teaching in the Outdoor Classroom, July 20-23, 2015
For all adults who work with children ... Workshop participants may teach any grade level and have the opportunity to apply their new skills each day with a small group of interested students. This workshop is not just a learning opportunity for teachers - it is held in conjunction with the Summer Explorers Biology Camp for students entering 5th and 6th grades in the fall. Working together as a team, we explore the many ways to use an outdoor classroom to enhance and strengthen a child's education. Participants receive 30 hours of clock hour instruction and workshop materials. Dormitory lodging is available for no charge. Instructors: ISD 544 Prairie Science Class teachers Mona Davis; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service educators Molly Stoddard and Dave Ellis. Registration opens in late winter at the Friends of PWLC web site, www.friendsofprairiewetlands.com. For more info, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Environmental Education Cohort
Join a dedicated group of educators focused on integrating and embedding environmental education and outdoor instruction into every day teaching practice. This group usually meets the first Saturday of each month from 9:30-12:00 noon at the Bloomington Education and Visitor Center of Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. For an updated list of session dates, locations, and themes, please go to www.fws.gov/refuge/minnesota_valley. Come prepared to spend a bit of time outdoors at each session. Note: Those who attend at least 3 sessions are eligible to receive a classroom set of Jeffers Journals for your students. To learn more about the Jeffers Foundation go to www.jeffersfoundation.org. Call Suzanne Trapp at (952) 361-4502 for more information and to register. REGISTRATION IS ENCOURAGED to ensure they have teaching materials for you. Register online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/EECohort2014-15
Phenology Calendars Available Again for 2015!
The Wisconsin Wildlife Phenology Calendar incorporates Aldo Leopold and Nina Leopold Bradley's average dates for phenological events in Wisconsin, paired with stunning wildlife photography. This year, we partnered with Wisconsin Wetlands Association to feature wetland signal species. Each month, learn a new plant or animal that can help to tell you if your wetland is healthy. Order yours from the Aldo Leopold Foundation store, http://www.aldoleopold.org/store/2015-phenology-calendar/
Words on Fire: Fire Island Wilderness Poetry Slam
Join three teen poets from New York City on an adventure to the wilderness of Fire Island National Seashore. Here, these young city dwellers discover a natural sanctuary sheltered from the fast paced frenzy of urban life. And it's only a train ride away! As Ramya, Gabe and Sergio explore this coastal wilderness with spoken word poetry, each begins to form a deeper understanding of their personal relationship to the natural world. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y1xjTP3IvY&feature=youtu.be
Brought to You by...
This seasonal environmental education (EE) e-mail is provided by the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If you know of other educators who may be interested in receiving this e-mail, we welcome you to forward this message to them or ask them to send an e-mail to email@example.com with their name, school district, grade level(s), subjects, and city/state. We also welcome your feedback at anytime. If there is something in particular that you would like us to share, please let us know.
Find us on Facebook
Check it out and "like" us! We post announcements of visiting schools, nature discoveries, student journal quotes, photos, and/or events on a daily basis. You will know you have the official page when you see the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service emblem in the profile photo.
"This sudden plash into pure wildness - baptism in Nature's warm heart - how utterly happy it made us! Nature streaming into us, wooingly teaching her wonderful glowing lessons... . Here without knowing it we were still at school; every wild lesson a love lesson... ."
John Muir, The Story of My Boyhood and Youth