Category Archives: Young Naturalists Club

Meet the New Interns!

By Annalie Mallon and Trudyann Buckley

What’s happening nature lovers?! Enjoying this crisp January air? In the midst of learning how to teach all of the fall programs here at DNS along with the recent holiday craziness, we have completely forgotten to introduce ourselves 😳😱. Our names are Trudyann Buckley and Annalie Mallon and we are the education interns for the 2015-2016 year!  We are so happy that you have stumbled upon the kids nature blog – a great place for you to stay up to date on current things happening at DNS and to check out what kids like you have been doing at some of our sites!

Trudyann (left) and Annalie (right) teaching an Animals in Winter Outreach at a local school!

Since we have already been working here for the past few months, we thought we would give you a quick introduction with some fun facts about us and what we love most about working for the Delaware Nature Society.

Fact numero uno: We both have a passion for the outdoor world! What are some of the types of things we enjoy doing outside and where are some of our favorite spots to explore?

  • Annalie is a big ocean fanatic. When she is not daydreaming about living on a Caribbean island and SCUBA diving with fish everyday she enjoys hiking, camping, kayaking, and fishing! 🐠🐠 Below is a picture of her favorite camping spot on the St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands, New York.

camping

  • Trudyann likes to make the most of the seasons. She loves skim and boogie boarding on the New Jersey coast in the summer. In the winter, she hits the slopes on her snowboard in the Pocono Mountains. Below is a picture of the view on top of one of her favorite trails. She also loves hiking, ice skating, and swimming in lakes! slopes

Fact #2: The herp room animals are some of our best friends! We spend tons of time caring for, feeding, and teaching with these awesome reptiles and amphibians. Which ones are our favorites? (shh we’re allowed to have favorites, just don’t tell them!)

  • Trudyann thinks our spotted turtle is awesome! It’s pretty shy, but it’s very friendly. It has only three legs, but it doesn’t seem bothered. Also, its balancing game is on point! spotted turtle
  • Annalie’s favorite herp room friend is the Diamondback Terrapin because he has the coolest diamond shell pattern and polka dotted body, AND he is an excellent swimmer who gets to live by the beach! He has also been used as a symbol for one of her favorite bands (extra points if anyone can guess who!).

terrapin

Female Praying Mantis

#3: What are our favorite programs to teach??

  • Annalie enjoys teaching insect safari because we get to explore three different habitats around Ashland and search for some super cool insects! We found this pretty lady (right) sitting on top of the butterfly house one day and brought her to some of our school outreaches. She even laid an egg case which hatched in the herp room – we had hundreds of baby praying mantises!
  • Trudyann has a wonderful time teaching Stream Ecology. The lesson shows kids how fun science can be! We get to test stream chemistry and look for critters. Then we find out why one effects the other. She especially loves finding Crayfish in the stream–so cool!

#4: What is the most exciting/our favorite thing that we have done so far while working for the Delaware Nature Society?

  • To train for our Native Birds lesson, Trudyann loved looking after a borrowed pet Mallard duck all morning. The duck explored our office space, and then she sat right next to our desks and started to fall asleep!20160112_224436
  • Annalie thought shucking corn on the farm was quite a fun little mission. At the beginning of December, a whole group of teacher naturalists and volunteers got together at Coverdale Farm Preserve to pull off and collect all of the dried ears of corn in the corn field! We loaded up whole trashcans full to be used for school programs!

#5: What are you looking forward to doing before your internship is over at the end of August?!

  • “Apart from waiting for it to snow so that we can FINALLY use sledding hill for what it was named for, I am super psyched about summer camp!! I can’t wait to go on some awesome adventures with all of you kids!” – Annalie
  • “I’m looking forward to seeing all the flowers and trees at the Nature Center bloom in the Spring! I hear the meadow is going to be beautiful, so Nature Photography, Insect Safari, and Exploring Ecosystems will be extra fun to teach!” -Trudyann

Are you a Delaware Nature Society member between the ages of 9 and 12 and love nature like us?? Come on over to the Ashland Nature Center and join the Young Naturalist Club, a group of  nature lovers, bug collectors, snake finders, and explorers! We’ll be spending our time outdoors hiking and exploring streams, woods, fields and wetlands in search of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Make new friends that are interested in the outdoors, like you. Time will be spent at Ashland Nature Center and natural areas and preserves in the area.

Meets the last Sunday of the month at Ashland Nature Center unless otherwise noted, 9 – noon

Ages 9-12, members only: $60

3511 Barley Mill Road Hockessin, DE 19707 (302) 239-2334

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Gone Fishin’

The Young Naturalists have been busy exploring nature this spring! Once again, our Young Naturalists leader and favorite guest author, Kristen, wrote about what they’ve been up to.  Check it out!

The Young Naturalists Club went fishing at Coverdale Farm Preserve on Sunday, May 19th.  Despite the overcast clouds threatening rain, we grabbed our fishing poles and worms determined to catch some big Blue Gill! 

The Delaware Nature Society’s volunteer “Dream Team” completed this new dock at the pond this spring. Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

The fish were unaware of the gloomy skies and were happily biting the earth worms from our hooks!

Sara baits her hook in hopes to catch a fish! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

Joey really enjoyed his time fishing! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

Kari, Sara, and Connor all caught a Blue Gill! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

 

As we were catching fish at the pond, we were serenaded by amphibians, specifically American Bullfrogs and Green Frogs. We saw a lot of Bull Frog tadpoles in the water and were lucky enough to catch two Green Frogs! Connor also caught a Red-spotted Newt in his net. Eastern Towhees were calling in the trees and Red-winged Blackbirds cackled near the waters edge.  A mother Canada Goose was warming her nest while the father kept a close eye on us.

This Green Frog seemed to enjoyed hanging out on the dock with the Young Naturalists! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

As the day ended, we hiked up the steep hill and spent some time looking at the piglets, calves and lambs at the farm! It was a great way to end this season of the Young Naturalists Club and we are looking forward to the fall session!

Thanks for sharing Kristen, we look forward to hearing about your fall adventures! If you’re interested in joining the Young Naturalists Club on their adventures, sign up now! Members can register online at www.delawarenaturesociety.org or you may call us at (302) 239 – 2334.

Young Naturalists Jump Into Spring

The Young Naturalists are wasting no time springing into the warm weather exploring Ashland in search of animal activity. Our Young Naturalists leader and favorite guest author, Kristen, wrote about what they saw. Check it out!

The Young Naturalists Club met on Saturday evening, March 23rd to explore Ashland at night!  We had our hopes set high that we would find a lot of spring amphibians and bats, but the cool weather kept most of them in hiding.

The Young Naturalists exploring the marsh at Ashland Nature Center. Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

As we waited for the sun to go down and for the amphibians to come out, we hiked along the trails at Ashland in search for crepuscular animals like White-tailed deer, rabbits and foxes, who are active around dawn and dusk.  We spotted 6 White-tailed deer eating in the floodplain.  As we hiked to the top of Sledding Hill, the sun was setting and we turned our eyes to the dark sky to look for stars. We saw Orion and his dog Canis Major with the bright star Sirius ablaze.  We also spotted Jupiter which was in the constellation Taurus. (Not sure what these stars look like? Check out the “How ‘Sirius’ Are You About Astronomy?” post from January to see some pictures!)

As we made our way down Sledding Hill towards the marsh we tried to call in Eastern screech owls.  We were able to hear two calling from the pine forest and as we listened carefully, we thought one was coming close…but we didn’t get to spot it!

When we made it to the marsh, we were lucky enough to find some Wood frog eggs and hear a few Spring peepers in a rousing chorus. The most exciting part of the night at the marsh was catching 3 Red-spotted newts!

This Young Naturalist shows off one of the Red-spotted newts the group found in the marsh. Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

We rounded out our fun evening by building a campfire in the Nature Center and roasting some delicious s’mores!

 

Thanks for sharing Kristen, that’s awesome you found 3 Red-spotted newts! The Young Naturalists have many more fun adventures planned for this spring, check it out!

Sunday, April 28th from 1-4 pm –  Head off-site to look for cool rocks and minerals! Location is to be determined, most likely the location will be Iron Hill or Woodlawn Trustees Preserve. [Note: Time and date change from original schedule.]

Sunday, May 19th, 1-4pm – It’s time to go fishing at Coverdale Farm Preserve! Directions will be provided before the outing.

If you’re interested in joining the Young Naturalists Club on their adventures, sign up now! Members can register online at www.delawarenaturesociety.org or you may call us at (302) 239 – 2334.

Winter Never Tasted So Sweet

February is in full swing, and that means it’s Maple Sugaring season at the Delaware Nature Society. This is the time we have a number of families, school students, and even Young Naturalists that come to Ashland Nature Center to learn about the exciting process of turning maple sap into maple syrup!

The Young Naturalists love maple sugaring…do you!? Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

Have you ever wondered where the syrup you put on your pancakes comes from? You need maple trees and the right weather that allows sap to flow.  Sap only flows during freeze-thaw cycles, when overnight temperatures dip below freezing and the days are sunny and warm, with temperatures between 40-50 degrees.

So what exactly is sap and how does it flow? Sap is actually sugar water. Most people (myself included until I taught this program) thought all sap was very thick and sticky like syrup. While some tree sap does have a thick consistency, like pine sap, maple sap is 97% water. How is that possible? Trees make sugar in their leaves during the summer and then store it in their roots in the fall. During warmer winter days, the roots begin to thaw and water moves from the soil into the roots and flows up the tree through “pipes” called xylem vessels. As the water moves through these “pipes” it picks up the sap as it moves upwards.

 

So how do we extract the sap from the tree? The first step to making maple syrup is tapping the maple tree. You must drill a upward-angled hole about 1 1/2 inches deep into the tree, just enough to tap into the xylem “pipes”.

This Young Naturalists drills a practice hole into a dead Red Maple. We only tap alive trees because sap only flows in trees that are alive. Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

A metal spile is then inserted into the hole in the tree and the sap flows out of the spile on warm and sunny winter days. We always taste the sap as it’s flowing out of the tree!

Have you ever tasted the sap directly from a maple tree? Photo by John Wessels.

We collect the sap in big blue bags. Every couple of days we collect the sap and then use it for our programs.

Do you see how full the blue bag is? It was really heavy! Photo by John Wessels.

Now, the sap that we collect directly from the tree is not what we put on our pancakes. If we did that, our pancakes would be really soggy and taste pretty awful. The sap must be boiled so the water evaporates and the sugar is concentrated. We boil just enough to let everyone in the program sample the syrup because it takes a very long time. We would need to boil 40-60 gallons of sap to make enough maple syrup to put on our pancakes!

We have to concentrate the sugar in the sap to make maple syrup. Do you see the steam coming off the pan? That’s the water from the sap evaporating into the air! Photo by John Wessels.

 

Phew! After all that work we finally made maple syrup, but I haven’t even told you the best part! The best part about the maple sugaring season is eating a lot of pancakes! After we spend some time outside learning about the process of maple sugaring, we head back into the nature center to make some breakfast. It’s fun comparing the tastes of the maple syrup to the pancake syrup (like Mrs. Butterworths or Aunt Jemima). Those syrups are made from corn syrup. Next time you eat pancakes, try to compare the two different syrups. You will definitely taste the difference!

Young Naturalists Go Winter Birding!

The Young Naturalists Club wasted no time kicking off 2013 with an awesome outdoorsy adventure! Our Young Naturalists leader and favorite guest author, Kristen, wrote about their experience last weekend. Check out what she had to say about it!

On Sunday, January 27th the Young Naturalist Club took a trip to Tri-State Bird Rescue.  We were lucky enough to arrive just in time to see a Bald Eagle being freed!  We learned that it had arrived at Tri-State in a very sleepy state, and that tests revealed he had ingested chemicals that are used to put animals to sleep.  He was lucky to have been sent to Tri-State, because within a week he was healthy and being set free!

Check out....

It was incredible seeing a Bald Eagle so close! Look how big and powerful his wingspan is! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

 

After getting to see the release of the Bald Eagle, we went inside and Tri-State’s Volunteer & Office Manager, Julie, taught us about what Tri-State Bird Rescue does and took us on a tour of the facility. Outside, there were several bird feeders and we caught a glimpse of Carolina Chickadees, Cardinals and a Downy Woodpecker. 

The Young...

Young Naturalists taking a look at the facility and bird feeders at Tri-State Bird Rescue. Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

We also got to meet Ishta, the resident Peregrine Falcon at Tri-State.  On our way back inside, we saw a Black Vulture sitting on top of the building and learned that a pair of vultures tend to nest there.  After our tour, we took a hike along the birding trail at Middle Run Natural Area and saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker!

Thanks for sharing about your exciting day Kristen! I’m so jealous the Young Naturalists got to see a Bald Eagle take flight right in front of you. That must have been amazing! The Young Naturalists have many more fun adventures planned for their next meetings too, check it out!

Sunday, February 17th  1-4pm – Come make your own maple syrup from the maple tree sap at Ashland Nature Center. Then, taste test different “syrups” and make pancakes. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

Saturday, March 23rd  6-9pm – Learn about the bats and amphibians that call Ashland Nature Center home and go for a hike to find some of them! Afterwards, build a campfire and roast marshmallows while looking for bats flying overhead! [Note: Time and date change from original schedule.]

Sunday, April 28th from 1-4 pm –  Head off-site to look for cool rocks and minerals! Location is to be determined, most likely the location will be Iron Hill or Woodlawn Trustees Preserve. [Note: Time and date change from original schedule.]

Sunday, May 19th, 1-4pm – It’s time to go fishing at Coverdale Farm Preserve! Directions will be provided before the outing.

If you’re interested in joining the Young Naturalists Club on their adventures, sign up now! Members can register online at www.delawarenaturesociety.org or you may call us at (302) 239 – 2334.

Young Naturalists Club Identify Signs of Winter Animals!

Extra, extra, read all about it! The Young Naturalists had a great time outside last weekend! Our returning guest author and Young Naturalists leader, Kristen, wanted to share what they did with you!

The Young Naturalists Club met on Sunday, December 16th to learn how to identify signs of animals that stay at Ashland Nature Center over the winter. We learned how to identify deer, rabbits, fox, raccoon, and skunks by their scat, tracks and fur! 

These Young Naturalists studying the tracks and other animal evidence they may see on the trail!

These Young Naturalists are studying the tracks and other animal evidence they may see on the trail! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

 

We set out on a hike to try to find signs of these animals.  Along our way, we stopped to build a campfire and roasted marshmallows. We found deer and raccoon tracks along the creek side. 

Roasting marshmallows over a campfire at Wildflower Brook.

Young Naturalists roasting marshmallows over a campfire at Wildflower Brook, they look delicious! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

Looking in the soft mud along the side of the creek is a great place to find animal tracks!

The soft mud along the side of the creek is a great place to find animal tracks! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

 

After we had our fill of warm, sugary marshmallows – we hiked up Sledding Hill to find more deer tracks and scat, as well as fox scat.

Fields, like the one along Sledding Hill, is a great place to find animal scat!

Fields, like the one along Sledding Hill, is a great place to find animal scat! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

As we walked along the Red Clay Creek floodplain, we found raccoon scat and tracks – and even some signs of rabbits gnawing at the base of a tree! 

After our long hike, we warmed up inside with some hot chocolate and made a special ornament using our own hand print!

 

Thanks for sharing Kristen! I think it’s super cool you guys found so many different kinds of tracks and scat!

Last weekend was the last Young Naturalists Club for the year, stay tuned to hear about what the Young Naturalists will be up to when the warmer weather returns! If you’re interested in joining the Young Naturalists Club on their adventures, sign up now! Members can register online at delawarenaturesociety.org or you may call us at (302) 239 – 2334.

 

This is our last blog post of 2012! Anna, myself, and the entire Delaware Nature Society staff wish you a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!

Young Naturalists Club Learns About The Lenape!

Hey there! The Young Naturalists Club had another great adventure a couple weeks ago!  The Young Naturalists leader and our returning guest author, Kristen Sensabaugh, wrote about their experience. Check it out!

On Sunday, November 25th the Young Naturalists club met at Ashland Nature Center to learn about the Lenni-Lenape Native Americans that lived in Delaware!  We started our adventure by walking along the flood plain to learn how the Lenape would have used the different plants, like cattails – and animals, like painted turtles, that live in the marsh.  We stopped along the banks of the Red Clay Creek and talked about how they would have used a weir to catch fish!

This fishing weir in the Red Clay Creek is just like one the Lenape would have built when they lived on this land. This photo was snapped in the summer time when the water wasn’t too cold to stand in!

We hiked to the replica longhouse and got to touch artifacts like a drum & bow and arrow.  We also touched deer fur, deer hide and compared them to hides of other animals like the beaver and rabbit. We talked about how the different furs would have been used.

After our hike we warmed up inside and designed our own clay pots! We played Lenape games while our pots dried!

Thanks for sharing Kristen, that sounded like a great day!  Teaching about the Native Americans has been a long standing tradition at the Delaware Nature Society. Here are some pictures from our archives!

Students get to dress in Native American clothing and spend time learning about the Lenape culture in the longhouse!

These are some Lenape artifacts! The Young Naturalists made clay pots similar to these!

This summer camp spent time in the old Lenape Longhouses at Ashland Nature Center. This one is long gone, but we have two more longhouses that kids play and learn in year round!

 

The Young Naturalists have one more adventure planned for this year:

Sunday, December 16th 1-4pm – They will be learning about and searching for signs of animals in the winter!

When the warm weather return’s the Young Naturalists will be out trying to catch reptiles, amphibians, and fish!

If you’re interested in joining the Young Naturalists Club on their adventures, sign up now! Members can register online at delawarenaturesociety.org or you may call us at (302) 239 – 2334.

Young Naturalists Club Goes Owl Banding!

Hey kids! The Young Naturalists Club, a group of 9-12 year old nature lovers, went on a really cool field trip a few weeks ago! One of their fearless leaders Kristen Sensabaugh wrote about their experience, check out what they had to say about it!

On Saturday, October 27th the Young Naturalists Club took a trip to the Rushton Woods Bird Banding Station at Rushton Farms in Malvern, PA in hopes to see a Northern Saw-Whet Owl!  The bird banding station has been open since 2009 and is run by the Willistown Conservation Trust. Blake Goll and Doris McGovern taught our group that banding birds, placing a numbered plastic band around the bird’s foot, provides a way for scientists to learn more about the life span, population growth and behavior of bird species.

Choosing a band for the owl! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

The  Northern Saw-Whet Owl was once thought to be endangered, but through closer study that has been found to be untrue.  Right now, the Saw-Whet owls are migrating from Canada and so far 80 have stopped at Rushton Woods this year to refuel so they can continue their journey further south. The owls are drawn in to an area with mist nets by a loud Saw-Whet Owl call playing through large speakers.

We took our first trip out to the nets at 7:45pm and went back to the building empty handed, but with high hopes that an owl would be caught the next time out.  Blake took our group on a night hike and to the “scratch and sniff” garden of organic herbs at the farm while we waited for the next trip to the nets.  We headed back out to the nets at 8:45pm and found an owl in the net!  Blake took the bird back to the banding station where we got to see the bird banded, weighed (the owl weighed 100 grams, so that told us it was a female because the males weigh less – approximately 65-85 grams) as well as see other measurements, like the length of the beak and color of the feathers!

We determined the age of the owl by the feathers! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

 

After all the data was collected, we were taught how to hold the owl safely and we each took a turn!

One of the Young Naturalists, Gabe, holds the Saw-Whet Owl! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

Another Young Naturalist, Joey, holds the Saw-Whet Owl! Photo by Kristen Sensabaugh.

 

Didn’t this trip sound super awesome!? Thanks for sharing Kristen! The Young Naturalists have fun adventures planned for their next meetings too, check it out!

Sunday, November 25th 1-4pm – They will be learning about how the Lenni Lenape lived on the land that is now Ashland Nature Center!

Sunday, December 16th 1-4pm – They will be learning about and searching for signs of animals in the winter!

When the warm weather return’s the Young Naturalists will be out trying to catch reptiles, amphibians, and fish!

If you’re interested in joining the Young Naturalists Club on their adventures, sign up now! Members can register online at delawarenaturesociety.org or you may call us at (302) 239 – 2334.