Shedding Light on Vermont Forests
Book cover Illustration by Vermont artist Kathleen Kolb. View additional artwork by Kathleen at http://www.kathleenkolb.com

Sustainable Forestry Exhibit Lights Up BMAC

The Brattleboro Museum and Art Center BMAC is currently hosting an innovative new exhibit, showcasing the beauty and value of Vermont’s sustainable working forest.  Local painter, Kathleen Kolb shares her  view of the Green Mountain state’s forest industry through various works of art she’s been creating over the past couple decades.  Kathleen’s artwork is enhanced by poetry and prose contributed by Guilford artist, Verandah Porche.  Verandah interviewed loggers, and their family members.  The resulting stories are rich with emotion expressing the bond these Vermonters have with the forest.

BMAC Schedule of Events

The forestry exhibit started October 2, 2015 and it will run until January 3, 2016.  This Thursday the museum (October 22, Thursday, 7 p.m) is hosting a panel discussion: Turning Local Wood Into Local Good.  I will be joining other representatives of forestry-related businesses in Vermont to discuss the importance of sustainable forests products to Vermont’s economy.   Please stop by and join us for a lively discussion!

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

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!

DSC04593Students were eagerly identifying different creatures they caught, and were excited to share their findings with their classmates. 

 

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DSC04632They worked alongside each other and collaborated on how to best catch the creatures without harming them!

 

 

DSC04657Peggy got an up close look at a water bug that was discovered by one of the aquatic explorers. 

 

 

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DSC04651Students took detailed field notes on their discoveries and sightings at the pond. 

 

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DSC04675Teachers and students were excited to share the bugs they found with us. 

 

DSC04689Can 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

 

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Gift Wrapping and Community Involvement

Gift Wrapping and Community Involvement

 Gift Wrapping and Community Involvement

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!

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Monarch Butterflies in Vermont

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

Plant Milkweed for the Monarchs
Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed and it is the only plant on which the butterflies will lay their eggs. But over the last several years, milkweed has been eradicated by the increased use of herbicides on genetically modified corn and soybean crops (GMO’s).  This is the only field of milkweed I could find in Vernon today.

“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.

Sean, Douglas, Loryn and Michelle are preparing milkweed seeds to be donated to the seedbank at Monarch Watch.
Sean, Douglas, Loryn and Michelle are preparing milkweed seeds to be donated to the seedbank at Monarch Watch.

Plant Milkweed

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.

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Vermont Institute of Natural Science VINS
Before your visit to VINS, check out their calendar of events so you can schedule a critter feeding or raptor show.

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.

Vermont Institute of Natural Science VINS. Helping nature stay  in balance.
In addition to live raptor shows, raptor habitats, nature trails and playgrounds, you’ll find many interesting exhibits like this one on helping nature stay in balance.

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.

Vermont Institute of Natural Science VINS. Wendy runs the beautiful and interesting gift shop at Vermont Institute of Natural Science VINS.
Wendy runs the beautiful and interesting gift shop at Vermont Institute of Natural Science VINS.

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.”

Vermont Institute of Natural Science VINS. Helping nature stay  in balance. How big is an eagle's nest?
Ken and I visited VINS last weekend. For Ken it was a good excuse to get out on his Harley but he also found some cool trails to hike, including this one with a life-size replica of an eagle’s nest.

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!

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.