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GigaPan Magazine Selects Schrader Center as Finalist

GigaPan Magazine recently selected one the Schrader Center’s GigaPan photos as a finalist in the Nearby Nature “gigablitz” from this past winter.  Check out the winning Hardwood Ridge GigaPan here!

Some of the juror’s comments about the Schrader Center’s GigaPan:  “captures nature’s resilience to human modification.” · “evidence of the continuation of plant life cycles – mosses, fungi, and insects are working to break down the logs so that other things might grow there.”

GigaPans are digital images with billions of pixels, with remarkably crisp and vivid detail, all captured in the context of a single brilliant photo. Using a series of robotic camera mounts to capture photos using almost any digital camera, GigaPan Stitch Software automatically combines hundreds of images taken into a single image.

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Lady bug…wait…Butterfly…no, wait…Lightning bug!

To begin our day we worked on saving our newly planted trees by adding blue tubes to the top of their protective coverings to stop deer from eating them. We covered up Red Oaks, American Beeches, and Sugar Maples; we didn’t have to cover up the cherries because the deer leave them alone due to the cyanide that is produced in that family of trees.

During our hike we found a lightning bug, which we were unable to identify. We used www.discoverlife.org to find out it was in the genus Photuris. The Photuris lightning bug was consuming another lightning bug likely of the genus Photinus. Female Photuris lightning bugs are able to mimic the blinking patterns of other female lightning bug species to lure in males and consume their faces (and the rest of their bodies). A quick fact is that you can tell different species of lightning bugs apart by the flashing pattern of their abdomen.

After we identified the lightning bug, we went farther down the trail. Walking down the creek, we discovered a mole… a disoriented mole… a “rolly” mole.  The mole was rolling around in the road and was almost hit by two cars.  Brave and courageous Erica walked into the street and saved the mole by putting it in her shoe and transferring it to a safer location.

Our hike ended with a visit to the waterbot located in Waddel’s Run, you can see the data we collected at www.waterbot.org, select the waterbot labeled 0015.

On our way back to the Schrader Center we discovered that our rolly mole had rolled away. ~Jr Rangers Trail Team

Nature Journaling: Fun and Functional!

I remember reading a few years ago about a girl who sent out 100 gifts. She eagerly did an experiment in which she took the time to send out 100 notebooks to see if anyone would be to reply. She included an informative explanation of her intent and proceeded to give others the gift of sharing their stories. Out of the 100 notebooks that were sent out, she received three in return. Those three responders excitedly told her where they found the notebook, why they responded and how happy they were to do so.

This story intrigued and inspired me. Personally, I have kept all of my journals from childhood as a reminder of not only my thoughts, feelings, and perspective during that particular part of my life, but because journaling is personally valuable to anyone that partakes. It’s therapeutic, it’s stress-relieving, it’s informative, and yes – it’s educational! Nature journaling can teach you not only about yourself, but how much of a life-force that nature can be and all the ways in you can connect.

Nature journaling is a creative way to combine many educational elements efficiently. It compliments science, the languages, math and art. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service currently provides a Kindergarten – 6th Grade curriculum that allows students to participate in a field activity, record their data and discoveries, and share and reflect upon their results.

John Muir, the inspiration for and first president of the Sierra Club wrote in his journals about nature. Muir’s journals provided plenty of recorded experience, of which 10 books and over 200 articles were published. The journal was Henry David Thoreau’s tool and technique for writing. His journal, 14 printed volumes, detailed descriptions of the plants and animals he encountered every day. The Sierra Club, successful writers and the Smithsonian salute this activity, and so does the Schrader Center—kids have come here to journal for years!

One of the many summer activities the Schrader Center supplies for our guests is our “nature backpacks”. Each backpack is pre-filled with specific items based on the backpack’s purpose. There is a backpack for the pond with crates to catch critters, one for the butterfly garden with nets to see how many butterflies you can snag, and more!  The common thread through all of the backpacks is that each one contains a journal for hikers to record conclusions about what they captured and for us to listen to what they learned about nature and themselves.

  • On June 27, 2009, Oglebay Lodge visitors “caught multiple Cabbage Whites, two silver-bordered Fritillary, one painted lady, one silver spotted skipper, and three bumblebees (accidentally)!”
  • On September 22, 2009, on what they entitled the “Family Expedition,” Mama, Beatrice, Agnes, Myles and Lucy saw “no signs of turtles or frogs” around the pond, but did see “a nut in the water” and “dragonflies.” They also collected “yucky leaves” in their net.
  • On July 4, 2010, Kelly, Stacy, Jordan and Tyler “caught lots of tadpoles and two mini blue gills.  We saw three deer and heard the bullfrog taunting us. We also saw several bass.”
  • On June 11, 2010 a family from Woodstuck, GA – Lucas, 4, with Mommy and Grandma – “caught one female Cabbage White.  It was hard to catch!”
  • On July 17, 2011, Lydia and Alex saw “a waterfall that cascaded over a cave, with a deer’s footprints in the dirt.”

The best page, though, was on August 24, 2009 and it proclaimed, “Today my daughters, ages six and three, and I had a fun and educational day communing with nature…the best part was watching the joy on their little faces, and watching the glorious insects go free to be captured another day.”  Signed, “Truly Yours, Nature Lover.”

To start off our summer 2012 season, Amy, Ben and Emma Wade and Chloe and Wyatt Toland arrived for an adventure on the trails at Oglebay. They took a backpack for bugs and one for butterflies. Upon their return, they not only provided hand-drawn replications of what they found along with shared their stories, they also provided us with action pictures.  Come enjoy our nature backpacks, one of many daily activities this summer at the Schrader Center!

By Sara Fincham, Customer Service Representative at the Schrader Center

The Trials & Tribulations of Teaching!

You will never believe the adventurous time we had yesterday!  The day started off gloomy and wet after a long night of cold rain. The Junior Ranger team was cut short this week; due to losing Luke, one of our most experienced rangers.  However, we still had a great time.

Ebony Jewel Wings

The first exciting thing we did today was go on a nature hike.  Some of the things we saw were male and female cardinals, walnuts, ebony jewel wings, house sparrows, and barn swallows.  Aninteresting thing about house sparrows is that they invade and steal nests from other native birds.

Cardinal

The next thing we did was have lunch. After this we led the Nature Day Camp Explorers on a geocaching expedition.  Some problems and difficulties were the heat, technical challenges, and some of the kids wanted to have their own GPS units. However, they did enjoy getting to find the clues and tear through the brush and weeds to accomplish their task. Afterward, we did basically the same activity with the Nature Day Camp Investigators. In this version, we used a map instead of a GPS.  Some challenges were that the kids were having too much fun, there was not enough introduction of the activity, and the kids may have gotten a little frustrated. In the future, we may need to have a discussion on GPS use beforehand. Finally, we celebrated with popsicles. We sure did have a great day!  ~Junior Ranger Teach Team

Killing Garlic Mustard & Dropping Eggs at the Schrader Center!

June 8, 2012 — Working at the Schrader Center is really fun! In just two days’ time we taught younger campers about the fundamentals of flight, ran a paper airplane competition, did an egg drop, hid geocaches, and helped with the weekly bioblitz (a scavenger hunt ).  We concluded our week helping with the Nature Day Camp cook out!

Luke and Brendan’s favorite part of the week was helping the Nature Day Campers with the egg drop because it made the campers’ day if their egg capsule succeeded.  On the other hand, Jared says, “Killing every last piece of Garlic Mustard in Oglebay Park is my duty to the earth itself!”

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is an invasive exotic species that wipes out other plants in its area.  Although it was a tiring week, the enjoyment of working, teaching, and seeing your friends again was really worth it! ~Jr Rangers Teach Team

Jr Rangers Help Clean Up Trails in Oglebay Park

June 4, 2012 — The adventure started with a warm morning, about 68 to 70 degrees. As we headed down the trail, we stumbled upon areas of mud covered by wooden planks. In a couple of days, the Boy Scouts will be coming to put in new stepping stones so that the visitors will be more comfortable walking the trails.

The Trail Team helped the Boy Scouts today by cleaning up trash and taking out the wooden planks. We carried lots of trash, such as bottles, cans, clay sewage pipes, and palates from the woods to the road to help clean up the park.

After the planks were gone, mud was everywhere we stepped. In order to keep the trails in good condition so visitors would be happy, we made a stone trail covering most of the mud. Now when people walk on the trail, they won’t be hiking through the squishy mud.

The Schrader Center’s Junior Ranger program includes volunteers that are part of either the Trail or Teach teams, which will focus on ecology and forest improvement, or nature interpretation and instruction, respectively. The program develops volunteers’ speaking skills, increases their knowledge of the natural world, and gives them an opportunity to make an impact in our community.

The Trail Team monitors Oglebay’s forest, restores the Oglebay Ecosystem and learns about ecology and forest management. The Teach Team guides hikes and animal programs, develops and teaches Nature Day Camp activities and learns about nature education.

National Trails Day — June 2, 2012

Celebrate National  Trails Day this Saturday by taking a hike on the nearly four miles of trails in Oglebay Park! Trails include the Habitat Discovery Loop, the Hardwood Ridge Trail, Falls Vista Trail and the A.B. Brooks Memorial Trail. With a recently installed trail head map (below), hikers of all ages and abilities can find enjoyment on the trails at Oglebay. Trail head is located behind the Schrader Center, and trails are marked with color coded signage.

National Trails Day is a celebration of trails that evolved from the report of President Ronald Reagan’s President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors. In 1987, the report recommended that all Americans be able to go out their front doors and within fifteen minutes, be on trails that wind through their cities or towns and bring them back without retracing steps. The recommendation, dubbed Trails for All Americans, became the impetus behind several public and private parties joining American Hiking Society in launching National Trails Day® in 1993.