January 2020 – Urban Trees
When my kids were little, we had a paper map of all the trees growing around the Wisconsin capitol square. As I remember, it was produced by the Madison Children's Museum. I did a quick search online and couldn't find it - a paper version of anything these days is simply a relic. But hope was not lost! This past year, at an Environmental Education Conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Nicole Filizetti from the LEAF Program (read more ...Continue Reading
November/December 2019 Nature Net News – Hunting
Growing up in an urban area and without a robust hunting tradition among my family members, I didn't realize until later in life just how strong the hunting culture is throughout most of Wisconsin. My aunt and uncle were both school teachers in Lake Mills (pop. 5,000). They tell me that deer hunting season rendered the classrooms half empty as families took to the fields starting in mid-November. I also didn't realize people could legally hunt black bears. Until I ...Continue Reading
October 2019 Nature Net News – Constellations
October Constellations   Now that the sun sets around 7pm (and with daylight saving ending soon) there's plenty of time for pre-bedtime star-gazing with your kids. And, with the new moon (Oct 27, 2019) and a couple clear nights in the forecast (before the snow!), now is a perfect opportunity to brush up on fall constellations in view in the Northern hemisphere. A few of my favorites are viewable around 7pm this time of year: Draco the Dragon, Cygnus the ...Continue Reading
September 2019 Nature Net News – Climate Conferences
September Climate Conferences You would be hard pressed to turn on the news this week and not see a story about Greta Thunberg and her appearance at the United Nations Climate Action Summit. And so it was, when my middle-school son breezed by my home-office, that I was watching a clip of the 16-year-old activist speaking to an audience of roughly 250,000 protesters in New York city. "Wait, what was that?" he asked. I hit replay and we watched it ...Continue Reading
August 2019 Nature Net News – Composting
July/August Composting Long before memes were cool, and back when chain emails were definitely a thing, I remember being forwarded a massive group message that poked fun at how humans handle yard waste and compost. It took a bit of searching, and it seems no one knows the true origin, but I found a version of the allegory and it goes as follows: God to Saint Francis: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is ...Continue Reading
June 2019 Nature Net News – National Parks
June National Parks A couple of springs ago, my family trekked down to spend a week in a cabin in the Smoky Mountains. We hiked various trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and marveled at the crowds and at how many unique languages we heard spoken by fellow hikers and vista-viewers. I should have known better, but I didn't believe my dad when he said the Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited of the 61 National Parks. We ...Continue Reading
May 2019 Nature Net News – Camping
May Camping My youth was filled with camping experiences. Whether it was visiting the Grand Tetons and other state and national parks in the 80's with my parents in their custom-built Ford van, or joining the church youth group's pilgrimage to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness each summer, or my one-month backpacking trek up (and back down) Mount Kenya with the National Outdoor Leadership School, you could say I had the opportunity to experience multiple forms of camping, and soak in at least ...Continue Reading
April 2019 Nature Net News – Earth Day & Gaylord Nelson
April Earth Day & Gaylord Nelson I've written a few times about Earth Day (in 2017 and 2016) and thus, have written small bits about the "founding father" of this world-wide event, Gaylord Nelson. I had not, however, done much digging into the policies and legislation Nelson worked to pass as Governor and then as US Senator in the 1960s and 70s. As I did so this month, I was surprised to note the similarity between his ideas and those of today's New ...Continue Reading
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