Vernon Elementary School Students: Future Scientists of America?
We are so happy to have sponsored BEEC’s Aquatic Field Trip, where Vernon Elementary School students got the opportunity to explore a pond ecosystem and observe a variety of aquatic organisms. They studied the life cycles and food webs of these insects and amphibians, explored the ponds, and kept field notes on their findings. The students caught, identified, and shared their discoveries with the class! We think we have some brilliant scientists and biologists in the making!
Students were eagerly identifying different creatures they caught, and were excited to share their findings with their classmates.
They worked alongside each other and collaborated on how to best catch the creatures without harming them!
Peggy got an up close look at a water bug that was discovered by one of the aquatic explorers.
Students took detailed field notes on their discoveries and sightings at the pond.
Teachers and students were excited to share the bugs they found with us.
Can you spot the water snake? It was the talk of the trip!
We’d like to thank BEEC for organizing this great trip and giving kids the opportunity to get outside and learn about the environment hands on. To learn more about them and their mission, visit their website.
We have been working hard all year to stay involved in our local community. Around the Holidays, this becomes even more important to us. Earlier this week, Loryn, Peggy, Ken and Douglas visited the Holton House of Brattleboro, Vermont and helped wrapped gifts to be delivered to local senior citizens. The gift wrapping was a Brattleboro Rotary Club project and the team was joined by fellow Rotarians: Betsy Gentille, Ana Saavedra and Tami Purcell.
This is just one of several holiday projects we are happy to be taking part in this season. To learn more about the work we are doing in our local community, take a look at our Community Involvement page!
Click on the National Geographic video above to learn about the amazing 2000 mile annual migration of the Monarch butterfly.
Vermonters over 10 years old will remember the colorful Monarch butterflies that used to grace our fields and backyards every summer and fall. But unfortunately, many young children have never even seen a Monarch. What a shame! I remember when Kendall and Riley were in grammar school we used to bring their entire class to a field across from the school playground and every child would find a Monarch caterpillar to watch as it went through metamorphosis (the inset above shows Kendall with a Monarch that has just emerged from it’s chrysalis and is waiting for it’s wings to dry before it’s first flight). That was only 10 years ago and now there’s nary a Monarch to be found in all of Vermont.
Could Vermont’s state butterfly be heading toward extinction?
Recently a legal petition was filed seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies. “Monarchs are in a deadly free fall. The 90 percent drop in the monarch’s population is a loss so staggering that in human-population terms it would be like losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Milkweed: The Monarch’s Elixir of Life
“Fewer monarch butterflies are crossing North America to winter in Mexico, and the biggest culprit seems to be the disappearance of milkweed in the United States” according to Lindsay N Smith’s recent article in National Geographic. “Although illegal deforestation and severe weather have contributed to the decline, research… suggests that the overwhelming concern is U.S. farms’ large-scale use of herbicides that destroy milkweed.”
It’s hard to believe that milkweed has nearly disappeared from Vermont’s landscape in just a few short years. In the Green Mountain State, corn crops are everywhere and along the edges of those fields, we used to find lots of Monarch caterpillars feeding on milkweed. Not anymore. The Midwest has lost much of it’s milkweed too, as more land is being planted with (GMO) corn and soy to meet the world’s increasing demands for biofuels.
Monsanto and Round Up
The Monarch’s decline is being driven by the widespread use of genetically engineered crops that are made to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a uniquely potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food. The dramatic surge in Roundup use with Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in corn and soybean fields.
Those of us who eat corn or soy (or any of the foods that contain them) can’t very well blame the farmers for milkweed’s eradication. So scientists, conservationists, and butterfly enthusiasts are encouraging road crews and property owners to grow the plant in their own yards, gardens and along roadsides. Are you up for that? If you need seeds, visit us at Stonehurst and we’ll give you as many as you’d like. You can also contact the Monarch Watch Seed Bank where you can donate or request seeds. Directions for planting milkweed seed can be found at LiveMonarch.com. Vermonters can support Elizabeth Howard and her Journey North organization by reporting their sightings online. Together and with a little help from Mother Nature we can bring back the Monarchs!
Let us know your thoughts on Facebook or in the comments section below.
I’m not sure how summer slipped away so quickly, but there’s no getting around it… leaf peeping season is upon us! Thousands of visitors will soon be motoring around the Green Mountain state enjoying the brilliant colors our maple trees are dressing up in. If you’re one of those lucky leisure travelers be sure to add the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences VINS in Quechee (near Woodstock) VT to your itinerary.
I started volunteering at VINS when Kendall and Riley were in the Vernon Elementary School, so over 15 years ago. They had a wonderful program called ELF (Environmental Learning for the Future) where parents would come into their childrens’ classrooms and give hands-on training using various wildlife artifacts we managed to come up with.
Today the VINS mission is mainly focused on bird conservation: “motivating individuals and communities to care for the environment through education, research, and avian wildlife rehabilitation.” It’s a “nonprofit, member-supported, environmental education, research and avian rehabilitation organization headquartered at the VINS Nature Center in Quechee, Vermont. Open year-round, the 47-acre campus, adjacent to Quechee State Park, features 17 state-of-the-art raptor enclosures, 4 exhibit spaces, 2 classrooms, and ¾ miles of interpretive nature trails. VINS places a priority on making high-quality, compelling, and fun environmental education programs and learning opportunities accessible to more people and communities.”
At Vermont Woods Studios we support VINS through their Adopt a Raptor, citizen science and other environmental programs. If you’re interested in learning more about VINS, becoming a member or visiting their beautiful Nature Center in Quechee, VT check out their website today!
September is a big fundraising month for the Vermont chapter of Make A Wish and they’re hoping to get a little help from you. “We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.” What could be a better mission than that? The Make a Wish website shows a couple recent wishes & dreams that have come true, locally:
Aaron, a 16-year-old boy suffering from cancer who always dreamed of going to Comic Con in New York City was flown there with his family. They met celebrities at the show and attended Spiderman on Broadway
Lexi, a 15 year old girl, also suffering from cancer was flown to Spa Atlantis in the Bahamas to swim with the dolphins. “We will always have the great memories and many pictures of the Bahamas, and when she goes back to the hospital next week, she will have all her stories and pictures to show the doctors. Lexi’s trip has re-energized her for what lies ahead.”
Come and enjoy a gourmet meal at World Learning served by a team of “celebrity waiters”, including Steve “Corm” Cormier and Dave Manning, Jerry Goldberg and David Brown, Tom Nasiatka and Mary Linney, Gina Pattison and Karen Henry, Stephan Morse and Bob Woodworth, John Benouski and Steve Sweet, Diedre Baker and Laurie Blair, and Jane Baker and Kate O’Connor. Plus Corm will be Master of Ceremonies and co-host the auction. Saturday, September 20th at World Learning in Brattleboro. Beer and wine cash bar at 6pm; dinner served at 7pm. COST: $50 per person (cash or checks only). Proceeds from the dinner as well as any tips earned by the waiters will go toward granting the wishes of Vermont children with life-threatening illnesses. You will also have the opportunity to bid on gift certificates and other items to be auctioned off during the evening. For more info or to RSVP: contact Barb Harris @ 257-7803, e-mail: email@example.com
If you can’t make the dinner, there’s also the Wallace Golf Tournament at the Mount Snow Golf Course which takes place tomorrow, September 12 and the 2014 Walk for Wishes at the Shelburne Museum on Sunday, September 13. We hope to see you at one of these fun events!