Nature Net’s monthly blog highlights seasonal topics and helps you feel like the expert. Each edition features tips for educators and families, and links to exciting, nature-focused websites.

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March 2019 Nature Net News – Maple Syrup
March Maple Syrup Maple syrup is one of the first topics I learned to teach as a new environmental educator. I appreciated then, as I do now, that this Sunday brunch staple reaches into the realms of science, math, history, and Wisconsin commodities. I especially loved asking students, "What do you think the sap looks like coming out of the tree?" I have to admit, as a child I likely would have guessed exactly what most of them do: "sticky, ...Continue Reading
February 2019 Nature Net News – Animal Tracking
February Animal Tracking At the Aldo Leopold Nature Center we take many snowy, guided hikes to look for animal tracks. We imagine the tracks as evidence of the lives animals live while we're not looking, a story of the land. Some stories are clear, others take a little investigation, and still others just leave us guessing. Several years ago I was out with a group of after-school students investigating these snowy stories of the animal world. We found the straightforward path ...Continue Reading
January 2019 Nature Net News – Ecotourism
January Ecotourism Last summer, when my cousin was married in Colorado, my extended family and I shared a condo in the mountains for the wedding week. Even though there were no listed instructions for recycling, I was resolute that we sort our trash and I spent more than a few minutes searching the local municipal website to learn where recyclable materials were collected. Because my family loves me - and the planet Earth - they went along with my insistence ...Continue Reading
December 2018 Nature Net News – Bird Count
December Christmas Bird Count We have a window-mounted platform bird feeder at our house that is frequented by a Mourning dove whom we've named Larry. He's a stalwart bird and we can tell him from "Mrs. Larry" because he gives us a stare-down as we walk by the window, whereas Mrs. Larry noisily flaps away, as Mourning doves are prone to do. One grey afternoon, as my son and I (and the cat, too) sat watching the feeder, we counted 9 ...Continue Reading
November 2018 Nature Net News – Medicinal Herbs
I was rearranging my bookshelves a few weeks back and was reminded, upon rediscovering a stack of singularly focused books, of my past fascination with herbs and herbal remedies. I don't remember truly curing anything with tinctures or poultices, but I do remember feeling a sense of resonance with the following sentiment from one of those books: "For thousands of years people have turned to plants for healing help, so it is rather ironic that this form of medicine should be ...Continue Reading
October 2018 Nature Net News – Whooping Cranes
October Whooping Cranes While on a stroll through my neighborhood last month, I heard the familiar call of cranes approaching from overhead. I slowed my pace but not too much since, you know, Sandhill crane sightings are no big deal these days. (Although, this wasn't always the case - they were considered near extinction in Wisconsin in the early 1900s.) But as the trumpeting duo neared and flapped into view, I could have sworn I saw black-tipped wings, the tell-tale sign of the endangered ...Continue Reading
September 2018 Nature Net News – Environmental Education
September Environmental Education I started working at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and with Nature Net in the year 2000, when the field of environmental education was "middle-aged" - that is, halfway through its existence to date - and perhaps just reaching the cusp of its full potential. It was the early 1970s when Earth Day was born and a civil movement began around the idea of caring for and protecting our natural resources. Not long after, in 1977, delegates ...Continue Reading
June/July 2018 Nature Net News – Conservation
June/July Conservation Have you ever heard the origin-story of the teddy bear? The story goes that Teddy Roosevelt had taken a break from the Oval Office in the fall of 1902 to go black bear hunting in Mississippi. On the second day of the hunt, while the president was back at camp for lunch, the dogs cornered a bear and the hunting guide - wanting the president to have the honor of killing the bear - gave the beast a knock on ...Continue Reading
May 2018 Nature Net News – Woodlands
May Woodlands Last November, after the risk of spreading oak wilt had passed, we had a huge, ailing White oak tree taken down in our yard. This old grandmother of a tree was about 100 inches in circumference and we figure was at minimum reaching the century mark. It was sad to see her go but dead limbs 80 feet up were dangerous, and we were rewarded a healthy stack of firewood. Seemingly on an unrelated note, the grass and some of ...Continue Reading
April 2018 Nature Net News – School Gardening
April School Gardening One of my favorite teachers at my children's elementary school was able to sense when the kid's energy level reached a non-productive level. Her go-to response was to head out to the school garden to weed, water, and mulch. Usually they would go for just 10 minutes - but that was enough. Marta, who was named the 2015 Formal Environmental Educator of the Year, intuitively knew the power of outdoor time, gardening, and fresh air on student's ability ...Continue Reading