Annual Event: Berkshire Bioblitz

Annual Event Support Interests in Ecology, Zoology, Biology, and More!

Calling all amateur biologists: Mid-September is the time for the annual Berkshire Bioblitz! During a 24 hour period, teams of participants accompanied by an expert scientist will explore Springside Park, the largest municipal park in Pittsfield, MA, and see how many species they can find from a list. This is a great way to learn about local biology and get hands-on experience assisting with real scientific research. You’ll be amazed how much wildlife there is right under your nose. All ages welcome. Springside Park Conservancy. 413-499-7505. 58 Oak Hill Road. Pittsfield, MA.

Want to host your very own bioblitz? Resources for blitz-planning are available on the National Geographic website – the organization has provided everything from instructions for early planning to a suggested materials list!  A bioblitz can offer students a unique hands-on learning experience that will make them more aware of the amount of biodiversity in their neighborhood and will teach them to identify new species. Communities will benefit from the events as well – neighbors can gain a greater awareness of what’s in their backyards, and perhaps even become better connected to the natural world that surrounds them! For Western MA teachers, educators, and parents who are interested in learning more about using the outdoors as a living classroom, check out the Berkshire Museums Living Landscapes curriculum. Living Landscapes focuses on natural science but also includes connections to math, language arts, and visual arts, and is a terrific local resource.

Elms College Bioblitz Encourages Citizen Scientists

Biodiversity in Your Neighborhood

Elms College is throwing a Bioblitz on Saturday, April 30, 9am-3pm at Chicopee Memorial State Park. Teachers, students, parents and friends of all ages are invited to team up with scientists to identify as many of the park’s living creatures as possible in a single day. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet people working in scientific fields and ask them questions about science in general or about their careers specifically. Participation can get community members interested in the biodiversity of their local lands, and as a result make them more invested in conservation efforts. Documenting of local species can give scientists clues for further research. You never know what you’re going to find until you look! Please register online at the Elms College website. 570 Burnett Road, Chicopee, MA. (FREE)

In the past twenty years, childhood in the United States has moved indoors. The average American child spends about thirty minutes of their day in unstructured, outdoor play, and more than seven hours in front of a screen (see this report for more information). Most people intuitively understand the connection between time spent in nature and positive well-being. Fresh air and exercise keep our bodies in shape and our minds focused. But did you know that time spent outdoors in childhood also is correlated with better distance vision? If you and your child pair your time spent outdoors with species identification, this may sharpen your visual skills even further as you try to spot birds, plants, insects, and mammals which may be small, or may dart away at the sight of you. This kind of activity also teaches patience and focus.

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Nature-Based Education Supported via Berkshire BioBlitz

6th Annual Berkshire BioBlitz

Families are invited to be citizen scientists in the Berkshires, June 19th & 20th at the Berkshire Bioblitz! From their participation in the bioblitz, kids will learn to identify plant and animal species that they see often, and learn about the role that each species plays within the local ecosystem. Participate in a mammal tracking workshop, Owl Prowl and Moth-Light demo. Great for budding naturalists!

In celebration of local biodiversity, Berkshire County’s annual BioBlitz will be held at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary on Holmes Road in Pittsfield starting at 12noon on Friday, June 19, and ending at 12noon on Saturday, June 20. This year’s free event is hosted by Mass Audubon’s Berkshire Sanctuaries at their Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary and co-sponsored by Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Dr. Augie’s Science Education Programs and the Berkshire 4-H. Canoe Meadows is home to a wide variety of plants and trees as well as turtles, ospreys, otters, and owls. Gentle, flat trails wind through the sanctuary’s scenic woods, fields, and wetlands, and along the edge of the Housatonic River.

The BioBlitz is an opportunity for biologists, naturalists and environmentalists to work in collaboration with the general public to gather in a given area and—in a 24-hour period— complete a formal survey of all living species while seeing first-hand the importance of a healthy, active ecosystem in their own community. Approximately 20 specialists will be on hand to explore, identify and educate, including local mushroom specialist John Wheeler of the Berkshire Mycological Society, Scott LaGreca, lichen specialist, Cornell University, and author of Insects of New England and New York, Tom Murray. Read the rest of this entry »

Watershed Blitz: Support the Conservation Efforts of the Westfield River

Nature Hike Offers Community Based Crash Course on Environmental Science

It’s easy to see how the turkey tail mushroom got its name. These are just a sample of the biodiversity you’ll discover in the Westfield River watershed during the Westfield River Committee’s Watershed Blitz on Sept 27!

What do green frogs, turkey tail mushrooms, and poison ivy all have in common? They’re all things that can be found in and around the Westfield River – and they’re all things that volunteers will likely encounter at the Westfield River Committee’s Watershed Blitz! Held on Saturday, September 27, 2014,  from 9am-2:30pm, the event is being held in order to honor the 20 years of conservation that the committee has accomplished. More importantly, however, the event will gather important information about the Westfield River watershed’s biodiversity general health.

Participation in the event doesn’t necessarily require extensive knowledge of local plant and animal species, but it does require certain physical abilities. Volunteers should be prepared to hike 1.5 to 2 miles of the river corridor – territory that is challenging, but can make for a great adventure. Alongside nature-loving volunteers will be experts on all kinds of biology and environmental science topics – everything from salamanders to culverts! Armed with the knowledge of experts and some good field guides, participants will be able to help discover and identify all sorts of species to whom the Westfield’s banks are a happy home. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Plan a Bioblitz

Organize a Bioblitz in Your Community!

For Western MA teachers, educators, and parents who are interested in learning more about using the outdoors as a living classroom, check out the Berkshire Museums Living Landscapes curriculum. Living Landscapes focuses on natural science but also includes connections to math, language arts, and visual arts, and is a terrific local resource.

Are your kids curious about all of the many different plants and animals that they find while exploring outside?  Have you ever been curious about the amount of biodiversity in your community?  Would your students benefit from a hands-on species identification project?  Do a bioblitz!

A bioblitz is a community event designed to quickly compile information on biodiversity in a relatively small area.  Community members of all ages participate in the events alongside trained naturalists and scientists to find and identify as many species of plants and animals as possible in, generally, a period of 24 hours.  A shorter bioblitz (one the length of a school day or even just an afternoon) can be organized, though – if a smaller area of land is explored, a classroom of students or even just a few families together can work their way through the identification process.

Resources for blitz-planning are available on the National Geographic website – the organization has provided everything from instructions for early planning to a suggested materials list!  A bioblitz can offer students a unique hands-on learning experience that will make them more aware of the amount of biodiversity in their neighborhood and will teach them to identify new species. Communities will benefit from the events as well – neighbors can gain a greater awareness of what’s in their backyards, and perhaps even become better connected to the natural world that surrounds them!

[Photo credit: (ccl) Katja Schulz]

Berkshire Bioblitz Invites Families to Participate as Citizen Scientists

Berkshire Bioblitz
Burbank Park in Pittsfield
Sept 22-23, 2012

Families are invited to be citizen scientists in the Berkshires, Sept 22nd & 23rd at the Berkshire Bioblitz! From their participation in the bioblitz, kids will learn to identify plant and animal species that they see often, and learn about the role that each species plays within the local ecosystem. Great for budding naturalists! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

When learning about biodiversity, students are often shown far away landscapes – such as jungles and deserts – as examples of places with unique sets of plants, animals, and interesting terrain.  The fields, forests, lakes, and streams of Western Massachusetts, however, are bursting with a wide variety of trees, grasses, flowers, insects, birds, fish, and mammals of all sizes!

The annual Berkshire Bioblitz, a community event centered around discovering and identifying the numerous species present locally, will take place in Pittsfield’s Burbank Park on September 22nd and 23rd.  The event includes workshops and nature walks, along with a group effort to scour the park to find and identify as many different species as possible.  At last year’s blitz, over 450 different species of lichens, fungi, mammals, mosses, plants, insects and more were found (including two species of bees never before formally identified in Massachusetts!).

Participating in the bioblitz is a way for families to engage with their surroundings as citizen scientists, and to learn to identify the many different species found locally (perhaps even in your backyard!).  There will be trained biologists and naturalists on hand at the event to help participants identify what they have found, and families can also utilize field guides to pair their findings with photos, drawings, and descriptions (great practice for kids learning to use research materials).  For more information, visit www.berkshirebioblitz.org.

Citizen Scientists Invited to 2nd Annual BioBlitz in Berkshire County

2nd  Annual BioBlitz in Berkshire County: Scientists and Neighbors Working Together to Survey Local Biodiversity

“This is a great opportunity for people from all walks of life to get back to nature and to learn about the amazing lives of plants and animals in their own backyards.” said Lisa Provencher, entomology curator assistant at the NY State Museum, and founder of Dr. Augie’s Science Education Programs. “It’s a powerful tool we can use to get people away from their television sets and computer monitors, and spend time outside—providing an antidote to what some educators have dubbed ‘nature-deficit disorder’.” Further, LaGreca added, “It provides valuable information about Mt. Greylock’s flora and fauna that can be used by DCR staff to better manage the Mt. Greylock Reservation’s resources.” (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

In celebration of local biodiversity, Berkshire Museum is holding Berkshire County’s second annual BioBlitz at Mt. Greylock Reservation in Lanesborough, MA on Friday, June 10 to noon on Saturday, June 11. It is co-sponsored by, Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Dr. Augie’s Science Education Programs, MCLA STEM Pipeline and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation (DCR) and Recreation. The weekend event will allow scientists and local residents to document the extensive variety of life in their immediate area and see first-hand the diversity and importance of the clean and active ecosystems in their own community.

The BioBlitz is an opportunity for biologists, naturalists, and environmentalists to gather in a given area and in a 24-hour period complete a formal survey of all living species. Specialists such as Charley Eiseman (co-author of Field Guide to Invertebrate Tracks and Signs), Cornell’s botanist Scott LaGreca (lichens), Berkshire Wild Mushrooms’ John Wheeler (fungi) and NY State Museum’s Lisa Provencher (insects) will be on-hand to explore, identify and educate. The public is welcome to attend to watch the scientists work, and even participate in sorting specimens.

The biological survey is the “core” of the Berkshire BioBlitz, with a variety of family-friendly, interactive, nature-oriented programs taking place during the 24 hour event. Family programs will start Friday night (6/10) when there will be a “Meet the Scientists Session” at Bascom Lodge. As darkness falls, folks will be invited to participate in the “BioBlitz Drum and Campfire Jam” and to make their own take-home natural lanterns. Later, there will be a “Moth-Light” demonstration, an “Owl Prowl” hike and firefly count.

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What’s Living in Forest Park?

Bioblitz in the Pioneer Valley
Saturday, June 5th in Springfield, MA

What’s Living in Forest Park? Forty seventh-grade students and a dozen local experts/scientists will try to answer that question on Saturday, June 5th, 2010 in a first-ever attempt at a bioblitz in Springfield’s beautiful Forest Park.

What is a Bioblitz? A bioblitz is a 24 hour event to find, identify, and record as many species as possible, from microbe to mammal, at a given location. Bioblitzes provide valuable information to park managers and get kids excited about science and the natural world.

During the weekend students will head out on various themed nature walks to explore, investigate, and record what is found. About a dozen local area experts have been recruited to lead these walks. For example, John Foster, of the New England Naturalist Training Center will lead an ecology exploration walk, and Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney, authors of Tracks & Signs of Insects and Other Invertebrates, will help students identify insects and more in the park.

According to Ms. Cesan, science teacher at Duggan Middle School, the United Nations Program for the Environment has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity to draw attention to the rapid loss of biodiversity the planet is experiencing. The Forest Park Bioblitz is a small, local action that we can undertake to increase awareness and appreciation for the biodiversity in our own backyard. In addition, the event applies and reinforces several state science standards that students have been working on this school year. Students are creating a booklet about the ecosystems in Forest Park and the data collected during the event will be included.

The event will not be all work and no play as kayaking lessons, a zoo tour, and campfire s’mores are also scheduled. Joining students around the campfire will be their entire team of teachers. Students and teachers are excited about this event. Consider coming to the park on Saturday and visiting our “base camp” near the grandstands to view student work and check in on our data as students collect and report it. The event runs 8am-3pm on Saturday June 5th.

For more information contact Duggan Middle School Science Teacher, Kerry Cesan at cesank@sps.springfield.ma.us.

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