October 2023 – Wild Mushrooms
Fall rains have arrived and that means it's wild mushroom season! In this months Nature Net News we delve into the world of fungus--both above and below ground. Learn about the largest living organism on Earth, the best time to look for wild mushrooms, and how to cook wild mushrooms. The Hunt One sunny afternoon this week, some coworkers and I took our planning meeting on the road, or rather, on the trail. While we discussed what the next week ...Continue Reading
July 2023 – Summer Insects
It's summertime.  And here in Wisconsin, that means sunshine, blooming flowers, and...insects. This month we're revisiting some of our favorite Nature Net News posts about animals in the class Insecta. Did you know bumble bees make honey? And that firefly larvae are desirable garden predators? Find the full length articles linked below or use these quick synopses to pick up some fun facts for your next insect encounter.   Cicadas From August 2015 Cicadas are not in the locust family as some ...Continue Reading
June 2023 – Pacific Garbage Patch
When I was in my early twenties, I spent a semester on a NOLS expedition in Kenya. One day, as we walked the tide pools along the Indian Ocean, we came across a sloshing pool filled with flotsam and jetsam and other human-made debris. The plastic bits, like some strange breed of sea glass, had been tumbled and smoothed by the tides. Some items were recognizable - a flip flop sandal, a baby’s pacifier - others were rounded into colorful, ...Continue Reading
May 2023 – Urban Gardening
Have you ever heard of the “Gangsta Gardener”? I’m guessing it’s likely, given that his 2013 TED Talk has been viewed over 4 million times. (You can increase that number by watching for yourself below.) When Ron Finley converted the strip of land between his house and the street into a vegetable garden, the city of Los Angeles put out a warrant for his arrest. Urban gardening on city-owned land was not legal. But Finley and his friends at LA ...Continue Reading
March 2023 – The Anthropocene
You’re probably familiar with the Jurassic or even the Cambrian time spans, but have you heard of the Anthropocene? The geologic time scale divides earth’s history into eons (hundreds of millions to billions of years), eras (hundreds of millions of years), periods (tens of millions of years), and epochs (several million years). Each division in time is indicative of significant historical events that are evidenced through fossil records and geologic formations. Study.com simplifies this to say “scientists use fossils, rock layers, ...Continue Reading
February 2023 – Wind Power & The Great Lakes
I listened with interest earlier this month about President Biden’s renewable energy goals. Offshore wind farms are cropping up on the US coasts, but I couldn’t help but wonder “what about the Great Lakes? America's Freshwater Coast?” Biden plans to increase funding for alternative energy programs to reach net-zero energy emissions by 2050. This includes a goal of producing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. The most completed US offshore wind project to date is the Block Island ...Continue Reading
January 2023 – Urban Canids
I once saw a fox in the backyard of my near-west Madison home. It sat along a stone retaining wall with its cozy tail wrapped around its feet. Light snowflakes swirled as it quietly gazed across the yard. We keep backyard chickens so we were certainly a little nervous. But more, we were awed. It was an amazing experience to see “real” wildlife up so close. Turns out, my “urban” fox encounter was not so rare. Foxes claim several Madison ...Continue Reading
December 2022 – Earthshot
Sometimes, being an environmentalist can be downright depressing. A quick scroll through the news generally elicits a somber list of stories about climate change, biodiversity loss, habitat destruction, pollution, and the list goes on. But lo, hidden among the tabloid news earlier this month was some good news, a ray of hope - five of them, actually. I heard the Royals (Prince William and Kate Middleton) were visiting Boston (and that there were gossip-inducing “hiccups,” and of course front row ...Continue Reading
November 2022 – Turkeys
After many years of trekking through the UW Arboretum, I've noticed a fairly recent increase in turkey encounters. Flocks - or rafters - of turkeys can be spotted wandering Longenecker Garden's curated edges, or ambling across Monroe Street near Spring Trail Pond (a location I grew up calling "the duck pond"). Had I walked these routes 150 years ago, there would have been no turkeys. They were extirpated from Wisconsin for nearly a hundred years starting in the late 1800s.  ...Continue Reading
October 2022 – COP 27
A quick survey around the office revealed that even among us environmental educators, COP 27 is a bit of a mystery. We know it is a meaningful climate action forum that’s occurring next month but what does COP even stand for and what exactly will be happening? None among us could answer for sure. A little research was required…  COP stands for Conference of the Parties, with “parties” being the 196 countries or territories that make up the supreme decision-making ...Continue Reading