Conversation Highlights: The Sunday Edition, May 5, 2019

Parenting Green: Winter Curiosity & Outdoor Play

Winter Nature Play

I am always amazed at how the kids tend to be the ones to notice the pulse of our natural world through their curiosity. It’s how discovery happens! We just have to bring them to the opportunity and they will certainly find it. — What are some of the ways your family stays connected to nature within the limits of winter?

I love the adage, ‘there is no bad weather, just bad clothing.’ especially this time of year when the winter winds and flakes can make you feel like it’s not worth the fight to get bundled. What’s your strategy for getting the kids geared up before the inner heat you’ve created sends your minds to a boiling point!? Sometimes I don’t get the process down so wisely. I feel like if our coat area was set up more like a firehouse station, we might gear up and get out…it’s always a back and forth with finding gloves, the hat, and which door the snow pants are hanging up at. Keeping myself from getting overheated helps me have more patience in that process. Luckily we have a screened in porch so I can send the bundled baby and big kids out once they have their gear on, and they can wait there until I get winterized.

It was really about the commitment the other day when the idea to go outside in the falling snow came over the living room where free play was happening. There was no pressure of schedule to follow, we didn’t have to be anywhere at any particular time. We knew that the need for physical activity was necessary and that being outside was always welcomed and enjoyed once we got there. Somehow we kept the momentum going even with the resistance voiced by the happily engaged big kids. I think that’s where the commitment came in. We had a vision, and we didn’t waver. We wanted to go for a walk in the trails at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. There were plenty of natural trails and a lookout tower that we could climb. It would be fun… Read the rest of this entry »

Who Dwells in the Pittsfield State Forest?

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Bioblitz in the Berkshires
Friday & Saturday, June 4th-5th in Pittsfield, MA

Specialist will be on-hand to explore and educate, including reptile and amphibian specialist, BCC Professor Tom Tyning. Link to schedule is below. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Celebrating the United Nation’s “Year of Biodiversity,” the Berkshire Museum is holding Berkshire County’s first BioBlitz in Pittsfield State Forest from noon on Friday, June 4th to noon on Saturday, June 5th, 2010. 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 backyard.

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 BCC Professor Tom Tyning (reptiles and amphibians), Harvard botanist Walter Kittredge (flowering plants), Berkshire Wild Mushrooms’ John Wheeler (fungi) and Sage College Professor Emeritus Nancy Slack (mosses) will be on-hand to explore 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, and anchors a number of interactive, nature-oriented programs which have been scheduled around it. For example, on Friday night, a lively “BioBlitz Drum and Campfire Jam” will take place, followed by a “Moth-Light” demonstration and an “Owl Prowl” hike. A bird walk and a “fitness hike” will be held the following morning, as well as a presentation on Asian Longhorned Beetles—an invasive insect species recently discovered in Worcester, MA.

“It’s a great opportunity for people from all walks of life to come together and learn about their own backyard,” said Berkshire Museum Natural Science Coordinator, Scott LaGreca. “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’. It provides valuable information about Pittsfield State Forest’s flora and fauna that can be used by Pittsfield State Forest staff to better manage the local resources.”

The Pittsfield State Forest is located just five miles from downtown Pittsfield. From Park Square, go west on West Street for 2.7 miles. Turn right on Churchill Street and continue for .7 miles. Turn left onto Cascade Street and continue for .3 miles. The entrance to the forest in just over a mile on your left-hand side.

All events are free and held at the Pittsfield State Forest. Friday evening programs and Saturday morning naturalist hikes are weather-permitting. For a full schedule, click here. Call Scott LaGreca at 413.443.7171, ext. 17 to sign up

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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