The following are the archived main articles from the 2012 issues Heartland Outdoor School’s newsletter, Nature Notes:
New Arrival at the Nature Center
Our nature center has just obtained a new animal that our students can learn about and enjoy, a savannah monitor lizard named “Ramses.” These lizards are found in central to northern Africa and are believed to have originated near Egypt. The name “monitor” is derived from folklore about the Nile monitor, which locals believed “monitored” the river for approaching crocodiles (it is more likely they were feeding on the croc eggs). The monitor’s primary diet in the wild is insects. They can also be very voracious eaters. A healthy monitor is active, inquisitive, highly intelligent, and very clever at escaping its enclosure as a means to pass the time. Despite the frequent sale of monitor lizards they are not recommend for pets, as misinformation on their proper care has resulted in an average survival rate of one year in the pet trade. Within the specialized care of our nature center, however, Ramses can be expected to live anywhere from 12-20 years and grow to a length of 3-4 feet. He will be joining a host of other creatures within our nature center to be studied and enjoyed by countless school students for many years to come.
New Classes for Grades K-2
Wow, this winter is just flying by! Our program staff members at Heartland have been working hard writing some new curriculum during our off season. The curriculum focus this winter has been writing classes for our younger students in kindergarten through second grade. We have some really exciting classes to share this year!
Whether it’s learning about mammals, getting wet stompin’ through the creek, looking under logs, or quietly listening for a creature in the woods, our new classes offer a variety of topics for the younger generation. In Wild Ohio, our mammals class, you’ll get to see and touch real animal skins and then get to hold some real live mammals! Creek Critters, our aquatics class, will take you down to Alum Creek to discover all of the wonderful creatures living in our stream. You could find a beautiful Rainbow Darter or elusive Water Scorpion. Don’t worry, it’s not a real scorpion, but it can sting you if you aren’t careful! We also have a new class called Sounds of Nature. You’ll get to sing songs about nature and listen quietly to hear what’s around you. You never know, you may just hear a coyote in the distance or the beautiful song of a tree frog calling out to its friends.
Our new set of classes will help to instill a love for nature in the younger students. Be sure to request a copy of the curriculum guide if you wish to see a list of the new classes. We hope to see you at Heartland soon. Have a great Spring!
When driving into the property of Heartland Conference Retreat Center, you will find yourself surrounded by a beautiful prairie habitat. In the fall of 2010, this prairie area, along with a wetland area centered in the prairie, was created and is now home to a variety of plants and wildlife. During the creation of this habitat, bird houses and bat boxes were added to attract wildlife to the area. This past winter, we erected an additional 12 new bluebird boxes in the prairie habitat with the hopes of seeing an increase in the already diverse bird populations at Heartland. While these boxes are specifically designed with bluebirds in mind, other species such as chickadees and swallows utilize these nesting areas, so keep an eye out for many types of birds around the nest boxes. In addition to the 12 bluebird boxes that were already set up, we hope to add nest boxes for owls, kestrels, and wood ducks, along with more bluebird boxes.
To aid in viewing this diverse wildlife population, we have built a Prairie Tower overlooking the wetland, prairie, and surrounding woodlands. This tower is eight feet off the ground with a platform size of 15 by 15 feet. This tower is a perfect spot for anyone hoping to observe some of our magnificent wildlife at Heartland. You may get the opportunity to see swallows flying over the prairie eating emergent insects from the scrape. Or perhaps you will see adult birds going in and out of the nest boxes to feed their chicks. You may hear a gentle breeze rolling over the tall grasses or a symphony of crickets and frogs rising up from below you. There is so much to be observed from the Prairie Tower. Come on up and see what you can discover!
Drought Tolerant Plants
Wow, it’s been hot and dry this summer! If you’re like me, you may have noticed that some of the plants don’t look as good this year. They’re not growing as tall, but they still have some beautiful flowers on them! Many of the wildflowers native to Ohio are tolerant of drought conditions. Native means that the flowers were already here when America was colonized. This year has been an unusual year because we don’t often have droughts in Ohio. We typically get one inch of rain each week. When we have consistent rain, the flowers grow tall and are covered with blooms. Most of the wildflowers are found in open prairies, areas dominated by flowers and grasses. You won’t find very many trees growing on these sites! If the sites aren’t mowed or burned every 5-10 years, woody vegetation will begin to grow and take over.
Wildflower gardens can be a very fun way to invite nature to your home. They are easy to design and care for as well. Some drought-tolerant wildflowers native to Ohio include: Purple Coneflower, Black-Eyed Susan, Bee Balm, Blazingstar, Goldenrod, and New England Aster. This group of plants will provide color and flowers in your wildflower garden from late spring through fall. Now you can go out and plant a wonderful garden full of beautiful wildflowers and enjoy all the birds and butterflies that will be attracteded to your back yard!
New for Fall 2012!
Coming to Heartland this fall are two new and exciting classes for our students: Mad Scientist and CSI.
Mad Scientist uses exciting and spectacular experiments to explore the scientific method. The students will be presented with a fun science question, encouraged to create a hypothesis, and then put their theories to the test in a fun and memorable experiences of the laws of physics.
CSI gives the students the chance to become investigators of animal behavior. The students will get to go to a “crime scene” with all sorts of animal sign which they will then use as clues to decipher what went on there. This is an innovative way to teach students to hone their observation skills and their appreciation for the evidences of animals all around us.
These new and exciting offerings from Heartland outdoor school will provide even more opportunities for your students to learn in a fun and engaging environment. Remember to ask about these and many other classes as you plan your visit to Heartland.
Heartland’s Winter Curriculum
In the Midwest, we are blessed by living in an area that experiences a changing of the seasons. Each season has different characteristics and activities that can be experienced at no other time of year. In the fall, people can enjoy the changing leaves and eat pumpkin pie. Spring offers beautiful flowers and new life. Summer has sunshine and swimming pools. Finally, winter has Heartlands’ new Winter Curriculum! During the winter kids will be able to encounter the great outdoors on a whole new level, from our aviator’s class to exploring various ecosystems, kids will be able to see animals more easily and learn how and why plants and animals change with the coming of each new season. Additionally, kids will have the opportunity to experience our new afternoon activities and evening programs including: winter olympics, broom ball, discovery hikes, sledding, snow forts, and much more. We are also offering 10% off of our normal rates for schools signing up between January 15th and March 15th. Come discover the unique opportunities offered by Heartland’s winter curriculum!
For more information please feel free to contact us at:
Phone: 740.747.0220 ext. 107