Stories in the Snow, Inside Outside, Soil Tunnel, Forest Days Handbook, Project Squirrel, Workshops, School to Farm Day, Apricity
 
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["Sullivan County"]
 
January        Wildlife Tales         Issue 40
 
 
Stories in the Snow
 
Who's print is that? may be the question most often asked to outdoor educators when walking through the snow with students. But the identify of a critter is only one piece of information in a much larger story. This past month, 5th graders from Bluff Elementary and Claremont Christian Academy and 4th graders from North Charlestown Community School were taught how read prints in the snow to tell the story of animals that are active in winter.  
 
The first step was to survey the snowscape to take in the big picture. Any disturbances in the snow could be a sign that an animal moved through that space. But how do we know if it was an animal or something else? Animals usually create a path as they move from one place to another, while snow melting or falling off buildings and trees has no distinct beginning or end. Surveying the snowscape helped them to narrow down what kind of animal(s) may have moved through the space as well as how many, if they crossed paths, and if they changed speed as they moved.
 
There are four main patterns that animals move in. These are called gait patterns.
 
Walkers create a straight line like a humans, giving the appearance they are two-legged. This is because their feet are similar in size and shape and they often put their hind foot in the spot their front foot made when moving. Cats, dogs, and hooved animals belong to this group. 
 
Waddlers move both feet on one side of their body, one at a time, then shift to the other side. Their bodies are closer to the ground than walkers. The waddlers' tracks consist of both their smaller front feet and their larger hind feet. Bears, skunks, opposums (pictured above), raccoons, muskrats, and porcupines are in this group.
 
Hoppers have large hind feet that are much longer than their front feet. They land on their front feet and their large hind feet land in front of their front feet. All four feet are seen each set of tracks with the large hind feet in the front. Rabbits, squirrels and rodents belong to this group. 
 
Bounders have long narrow bodies and short legs. One front foot lands before the other and then they lift off, allowing the back feet to take their place, leaving 2 hind prints in each set. Sometimes 3 prints are left when this isn't exact. Weasels, fisher, and otter are in this group.
 
The second step was to zoom into a set of tracks and gather as much information as possible by answering the following questions. They used Lynn Levine's Mammal Tracks and Scat Life-Size Pocket Guide to determine answer(s) to question 6.
 
1. How many tracks are in the set?
2. Are the prints the same size or different?
3. Are toes or claws present?
4. Which direction was the animal going?
5. How big is the animal?
6. What kind of animal could it be? 
 
The third step was to follow the tracks in one direction or another. They split up into 2 groups. One group went backwards to find out where the animal came from and the other group proceeded forwards to see where it went. Along the way, they stopped at places where the tracks changed or they saw other animal signs (scat, pee, hair, feathers, etc). Each time collecting evidence, asking questions, and inferring what may have happened. They had to be careful to continue to follow the correct tracks, especially when other animals tracks crossed its path.
 
The final step was to come back together and share what they found out adding to the tale of one individual animal. There were so many more tales and so much left to learn from the other prints in the snow, so each pair of students were sent off with a guide to explore some of the other stories. When they came back together again, they did their best to piece together all the evidence to tell the tale of what may have happened in that place since the last snowfall. 
 
If you would like to schedule a program or field trip with us, contact Dawn.
 
More about Tracks
 
Local Resources for Place-based Education
 
Inside Outside
 
Inside-Outside: Nature-based Educators of New England formed in response to a growing interest in nature-based education. Our purpose is to develop a network of educators and educational institutions throughout New England to support, connect + partner; to confidently, safely + joyfully venture outdoors with children; and to use nature for teaching + learning.
 
Join your local chapter for their next gathering where you'll find people who want to connect with you, hear what you're doing, and offer you support in your nature-based work!
 
Upper Valley Chapter contact is Eliza at eliza.minnucci@gmail.com
 
Join Now
 
 
Bring the Soil Tunnel into your Classroom this Winter
 
This is a great hands on teaching tool to introduce or enhance a soils unit, lesson, habitat exploration, food webs, humans dependence on soil and use on parent nights. The outside depicts soil horizons, compost layers, and aquatic soil layers, while the inside depicts the underground world in a forest on one side and in a yard on the other side.
 
Reserve it Today!
 
Curriculum Spotlight
 
A Forest Days Handbook
 
Written by Eliza Minnucci with Meghan Teachout The Forest Days Handbook answers the frequently asked questions about choosing an outdoor  classroom space, developing routines, building light infrastructure, and offers narrative examples of
what a kindergarten Forest Day might look like. Accompanied by photos of students on their Forest Day, and with a foreword by David Sobel, this book gives a passionate teacher the confidence to step beyond the schoolyard.
 
Buy it
 
2020 is the Year of the Citizen Scientist!
 
Project Squirrel
 
Project Squirrel is calling citizen scientists of all ages to count the number of squirrels in their neighborhoods and report their findings.
 
The goal is to understand tree squirrel ecology. Some neighborhoods may have grey, fox, and red squirrels while a nearby town only has one species. In many places, it seems one species or another is becoming more common. Learn how to identify these three tree squirrels then report your observations about their presence or absence and some of the ecological conditions of your neighborhood.
 
Get Started
 
Upcoming Events
 
Break Out of the Classroom!
Winter Wonders
 
Build your toolkit to get your kids outside this winter! This 2-day series workshop is for elementary school teachers (K-6) and will cover winter safety, group management, ready to go activities and curriculum connections. Great for teachers that are just getting started with outdoor learning.
 
February 7 & March 6
 8:30am - 3:00pm
Saint Gaudens National Historic Site
Sullivan County Lands
 
Lunch and snacks will be provided both days. There is a non-refundable $15 registration fee. Space is limited to 20 educators. School teams are encouraged to register. 
 
Registration deadline is January 24, 2020.
 
Made possible through a Spark Grant from Parks for Every Classroom. 
 
Register Today!
 
 
Collective Science and Stewardship in the Upper Valley
 
Explore ways to engage students in authentic investigations, reflection, problem-solving, and sharing their work publicly to strengthen students’ sense of efficacy and their abilities to create healthier lives and communities.
 
Carbon Cycle and Weather
January 17 -18, 2020
Follansbee Inn, N. Sutton, NH
(accommodations provided)
 
For more information and to register, visit the event page. Qualified candidates will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, up to 15 participants per workshop.
 
Sign-up Today!
 
 
Save the Date!
3rd Annual School to Farm Day
 
Sullivan County 4th graders are invited to visit the County Farm and meet farmers, producers, and educators as they learn about agriculture and food systems through hands-on activities and demonstrations.

Monday, May 11, 2020
9:30am - 2:30pm

raindate: May 12th, 2020

The Sullivan County Natural Resources Dept, Farm Bureau, Conservation District and NH Ag in the Classroom are bringing this event to you for FREE!

Contact Dawn Dextraze if you are in need of funds for transporation to and from this event as there is money available.
 
Register Today!
 
Where will the Sullivan County Educators be this Month?
 
Bluff Elementary School - 3rd graders be visiting the Eco Ag Center.
 
Charlestown Primary School - Dawn will be teaching 4th graders about how plants and animals survive winter.
 
Claremont Christian Academy - Dawn will be teaching K-4th grades winter enrichment as well as lessons on snow science with 5th graders
 
North Charlestown Community School- Dawn will be teaching 4th graders about how plants and animals survive the winter. 
 
Carbon Cycle and Weather Workshop - Dawn will be attending this workshop.

Please contact Dawn if you would like to set-up a school visit, workshop, field trip or want to volunteer.
 
Naturalist Notes
 
Apricity
 
As you are creating your New Year's resolutions list this year, make sure to include "Get your daily dose of apricity!" 
 
Apricity is an old English word meaning the sun's warmth in winter. I enjoy basking in the apricity as I walk through the woods because it makes me feel happy in that moment, but did you know that a daily dose of sunlight is important for your health all year long?
 
Sunlight stimulates your body to produce a chemical called cholecalciferol, which is eventually transformed into Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body maintain higher levels of serotonin during the winter, preventing or reducing seasonal depression. 
 
Some scientists believe the level of serotonin produced in the winter months is linked to the amount of sunlight exposure in summer months. Now, we all know that too much direct sunlight can have harmful effects to the human body, so 15-20 minutes of morning sunlight each day is all that is recommended. Imagine that! A little bit of sunlight each day in the summer may be all it takes to keep you happier all winter long!
 
Sunlight can also reduce swelling and high blood pressure and increase brain function and help you get a better night's sleep!
 
In the winter, the sun is at a lower angle in the sky and many of the rays are reflected back into outerspace, so the sun's rays are less direct. It is still best absorbed in small doses, but when you get the chance, show a little skin and appeciate the apricity!
 
Benefits of Sunlight
 
 
Dawn Dextraze
Education and Outreach Specialist
Sullivan County Natural Resources and Conservation District
95 County Farm Rd.
Unity, NH 03743
603.504.1004
ddextraze@sullivancountynh.gov
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