Community-Based Learning at Native Plant Nursery & Wildlife Sanctuary in Berkshires

Weekend with Wildlife Highlights Symbiosis of Native Species

“The caterpillars are remarkable and seeing them up close gives you a new appreciation of the creatures who often go unnotice,” shared Project Native Intern, Lindsay Buesgens.

Dedicated to growing and teaching about native plants, as well as preserving the species who depend upon them, Project Native in Housatonic, MA, offers extensive opportunities to learn about the plants and creatures who live within the local landscape and the ways in which their existence is interconnected. Maintaining 54 acres filled with over 200 local plant species, a wildlife sanctuary, and a native butterfly house, Project Native’s impact is great.

From July 24-26, 2015, families can join Project Native in celebrating the wonders of the natural world by participating in Weekend With Wildlife, a three-day-long event featuring studies of caterpillars, birds of prey, and the many inhabitants of the lush landscape offered at Project Native’s 54-acre farm in Housatonic. Though the grounds at Project Native are filled with enough life to sustain enough wildlife-centric learning to fill hundreds of weekends, the Weekend With Wildlife will include visits from special guest presenters, within whom will come many fascinating wildlife visitors. 

Kicking off on Friday, July 24th, the Weekend With Wildlife begins with the Butterfly House Reception from 5-8pm. Visitors are invited to visit the native butterfly house to observe many of New England’s species of butterflies and moths, and to learn about the ways in which pollinators can be attracted to (and supported by) home gardens. After viewing beautiful local butterflies and moths up-close-and-personal, families can return to Project Native on Saturday, July 25th to learn about the species’ lifecycle. The first special visitor of the weekend, The Caterpillar Lab, brings caterpillar expert Sam Jaffe and hundreds of his caterpillar specimens to Project Native in order to share the fascinating specifics of each species. From 11am-4pm, visitors to Project Native will be able to watch the caterpillars eat, camouflage with surroundings, and defend themselves using ingenious and surprising adaptations like inflatable horns, squeaking mandibles, and strange smells.

Following two days of butterfly and caterpillar studies, the Weekend With Wildlife concludes with workshops on North American birds of prey, offered by Julie Anne Collier of Wingmasters. Workshops will take place at 11am and 1m on Sunday, July 26th, and will teach visitors about birds as predators, their role in the food web, and the ways in which birds of prey fit into our changing world. Live specimens will include an American Kestrel, a Pelegrine Falcon, a Great Horned Owl, a Red-Tailed Hawk, and a Barred Owl.

Families who visit Project Native for the Weekend With Wildlife can also participate in some self-directed learning while exploring the trails leading through meadow and woods habitats, as well as areas actively farmed by the project. Look in particular for wildlife while exploring, and see if you can determine the relationship that each creature has with the plants in its habitat.

Project Native is located at 342 North Plain Road in Housatonic. For more information about the Weekend With Wildlife, call 413-274-3433, or e-mail info@projectnative.org.

[Photo credit: (c) Sienna Wildfield]

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