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LEAF Blog

Dec 23
Captain Planet Small Grants

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Here is a great oppurtunity for schools looking for a small grant to help fund student EE projects. They give from 500 to 2500 dollars for student led projects that encourage EE education. Straight forward application. Consider it,  the link below gives and easy overview of the project and eligible projects. 

Captain Planet Grants

Dec 14
Paul Bunyon and the Winter of the Blue Snow



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This is a story that fits the season and our states history. Telling tales around a camp fire or in the cookhouse was a past that yield many great tales. So consider examining these tales as an addition to your 4th grade history class or have your students create a tale using the premise of an out of this world character like Paul.


The Bunyons Lesson Plan

Tall Tale Lesson Plans

Songs of Paul Bynon

Oct 27
Attract Bees

Pollinator Friendly Perennials, Sure To Attract Bees

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Pollinator friendly perennials are the foundation of a well-rounded pollinator garden. They help increase pollination rates of native bees and honeybees, and their foliage and flowers provide food and shelter for beneficial insects that help keep harmful plant pests under control.

In “Which Annuals And Perennials Are Good For Pollinators?,” Dave Smitley, Professor in the Department of Entomology at Michigan State University, recommends perennials that are sure to attract bees. The list includes:

  • Anise hyssop/Agastache foeniculum
  • Astilbe, false spirea/Astilbe spp.
  • Basil, sweet basil (annual)/Ocimum basilicum
  • Bee balm/Monarda spp.
  • Bellflower/Campanula spp.
  • Betony/Stachys monieri
  • Black-eyed Susan, coneflower/Rudbeckia spp.
  • Blanket flower/Gaillardia
  • Blazing star/Liatris spicata
  • Butterfly bush/Buddleja or Buddleia spp.
  • Butterfly weed/Asclepias tuberosa
  • Catmint/Nepeta spp.
  • Chrysanthemum (open types)/Chrysanthemum
  • Clematis/Clematis spp.
  • Common poppy, red poppy/Papaver rhoeas
  • Common yarrow/Achillea millefolium
  • Coral bells/Heuchera spp.
  • Cornflower/Centaurea spp.
  • Fennel/Foeniculum vulgare
  • Foxglove or beardtongues/Penstemon spp.
  • Garden speedwell/Veronica longifolia
  • Globe thistle/Echinops ritro
  • Hosta/Hosta spp.
  • Hyssop (naturalized in North America)/Hyssopus officinalis
  • Large-leaved aster/Eurybia macrophylla
  • Lavender/Lavandula
  • Lemon balm/Melissa officinalis
  • Lupine/Lupinus spp.
  • Mints/Mentha spp.
  • New England aster/Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
  • Oregano/Origanum vulgare
  • Pentas/Pentas spp.
  • Peony/Paeonia spp.
  • Pincushion flower/Scabiosa caucasica
  • Purple coneflower/Echinacea purpurea
  • Rosemary/Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Russian sage/Perovskia atriplicifolia
  • Salvia/Salvia ‘Victoria Blue,’ S. nemorosa ‘Black and Blue’
  • Sea holly/Eryngium maritimum
  • Sedum/Sedum spp.
  • Stokes aster/Stokesia laevis
  • Sunflower/Helianthus
  • Swamp milkweed/Asclepias incarnata
  • Sweet alyssum/Lobularia maritima
  • Thyme/Thymus spp.

Try planting a few of these on your school grounds or edges of your school forest, pollinators help feed the world and anything we can do to increase there numbers is good for all of us.

Jun 12
Ephemerals!

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An ephemeral plant is one marked by short life cycles. The word ephemeral means transitory or quickly fading. In regard to plants, it refers to several distinct growth strategies. The strategy of the spring ephemerals is to come out of dormancy, leaf out, bloom and seed all before the trees are in full leaf. This means they can take full advantage of the sunlight. Some common Wisconsin ephemerals are the trilliums, hepaticas, spring beauty, wood anemone, dutchmen breeches, and trout lily. Make it a great day and step into Wisconsin woodlands to discover the flowers that hide most of the seasons and find them in all their spectacular glory. 

I challenge you to start a record of the ephemerals and their bloom times in your school forest, on your school grounds, or in a local park. These records can them be compared and contrasted to past years to start students thinking about why they are different or not and what are the factors that cause bloom time.

In National Geographic’s Magazine, published July 2016 is a chart comparing Thoreau's Walden records with some taken by Boston University researcher Richard Primack, so comparing 1853 records to 2004records. Three species bloomed earlier and 24 species bloomed earlier, why? Start the process of wonder, then add details like can you find a record of the weather in these two time frames, were they the plants from the same place, did the soil change for any reason, was the land and the area surrounding it changes in any manner over time.........

Most of all let student enjoy the wonder of spring in all of its glory.





May 11
Help Wisconsin Bats!

​White nose syndrome is spreading throughout the state, in an effort to get a handle on the spread and existing bat population, consider participating in the summer bat survey. For more details click here.

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May 04
Applicants sought for Conservation Grants

The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin is calling for grant applications for its two matching small grants programs, the C.D. Besadny Conservation Grant Program and the Teachers’ Outdoors Environmental Education Grant Program.

The Besadny program awards grants to projects that involve the management and restoration of Wisconsin’s natural resources and/or focus on natural resources education and outreach.

The Teachers’ Outdoors program awards grants to projects focused on outdoor environmental education.

Both programs provide grants of up to $1,000.

“We know what a big difference our small grants program can make for organizations throughout the state,” said Ruth Oppedahl, executive director of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin. “We’re glad to support our partners and the conservation legacy that they’re helping to maintain for our state. We have no doubt that we’ll get another great batch of applicants this cycle.”

The C.D. Besadny Grant Program supports projects in Wisconsin that promote the responsible stewardship of Wisconsin’s natural resources at the local level. The program has awarded $447,000 to nearly 600 organizations in every county in Wisconsin since its inception in 1990. The program is named after former Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary and Foundation founder C.D. “Buzz” Besadny.

The Teachers’ Outdoor Environmental Education Fund provides grants for public school teachers (K-12) to undertake outdoor environmental education projects. The Teachers’ Outdoor Environmental Education Fund was established by Pete Ostlind in memory of his wife Sue Spaeth, a Wisconsin native and elementary school teacher for more than 30 years.

To apply for a grant from either program, submit a grant application electronically to grants@wisconservation.org by Sept. 1, 2016. Grants will be disbursed in October. More details are at wisconservation.org. Questions may be directed to the Foundation at 608-266-1430 or grants@wisconservation.org.

In 2015, the Foundation awarded more than $35,000 to 35 organizations through these two grant programs.​

Mar 30
Rooted in Math

​National Environmental Education Foundation just put out a downloadable booklet containing great Math connections for all levels. 

It is an easy way to find a strong math lesson that is connected to the outdoors. My favorite lesson is the Mathabitat where students

build a trophic pyramid for three ecosystems: alpine, rainforest , and river. Then complete each puzzle by dragging food web

components into the trophic pyramid and using algebra to figure out which components fit in each ecosystem. 

                                          Rooted in Math Toolkit​ 


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Mar 15
International Day of the Forest

Dovetail Partners Encourages Celebration of Forests and Water Quality on March 21st

2016 International Day of Forests - 'Celebrating Forests and Water'

International Day of Forests 2015 

(Minneapolis, MN) - Celebrate forests on March 21st, the annual International Day of Forests as promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The theme of the 2016 International Day of Forests is 'Celebrating Forests and Water', chosen to raise awareness of how forests are key to the planet's supply of freshwater, which is essential for life.

 

In 1971, at the request of the European Confederation, the FAO's member governments supported the observance of an annual World Forestry Day on March 21st. That same year, in the United States, a presidential proclamation declared World Forestry Day to be part of a week of activities and ceremonies aimed at celebrating the role of forests in everyone's life. Forty years later, 2011 was declared the International Year of Forests as a global celebration of people's action for sustainable forest management. March 21, 2013 was proclaimed the first annual International Day of Forests by the United Nations General Assembly. The goal is to continue raising awareness of the importance of all types of forests.  

 

Forests and water quality are intrinsically linked - forests act as natural water filters and are a key component of watershed management. Forested watersheds and wetlands supply roughly 75 percent of the world's accessible fresh water for domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecological needs and about one-third of the world's largest cities rely on forested watersheds for a significant percentage of their drinking water. When sustainably managed, forests contribute significantly to reducing soil erosion and risks associated with natural disasters which can disrupt the source, supply and quality of freshwater. As climate change influences the availability of the planet's freshwater resources, and global populations become increasingly urban, it is important to recognize the role that sustainably managed forests play in keeping water supplies accessible and ecologically healthy.

 

Additional information about the vital role forests play in relation to our water supply can be viewed in the following 2016 International Day of Forests video.

 

 

 

 

On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns. Actively celebrate on March 21st by planting trees, celebrating forests, and showing gratitude for the products and services they provide in your community. ​

Feb 25
5 Tips for Better Insect Photography

​Here is a link from the Xerces Society that gives a few great tips for photographing iinsect. These creatures enthrall our students and the chance to record them is always fun, but to have some know how to make those photos pop makes the experience that much better.

Click here to Link: to improve your insect photography​

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Nov 24
Phenology

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This might be a great time to start recording all the changes you are noticing in the outdoor world around you and your classroom. Great time to take a picture to compare to a picture in Feburary. 

Black Bears seem to be in dens(no sitings)

Deer Rut is almost done

Ducks and geese are still migrating

Sand hill cranes are still around but less active

Birds are almost frantic at the feeders

Pheasants are heading for the cattails for the winter

Little brown bats are still migrating but number if sughtings are low

Finally this is a great time to mark buckthorn as the leaves are still holding on so it is very easy to identify. 


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This blog is designed to connect outdoor happenings to your curriculum