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Late Bloomers at the Schrader Center

SunflowerphotoThe long awaited blooming of summer’s last flowers is here; the tall and mighty sunflower! All summer long Ms. Robin heard reports from various children from this past spring’s Preschool Days program, “Four Fingers and a Thumb”, where we learned about a plant‘s life cycle, made recycled pots and planted sunflower seeds in class. Reports included how tall their plantings were, “up to here” or “bigger than me”, often coupled with gestures to show height. Then, exciting news came in – they bloomed!

Four-year-old Allison beamed as she handed me a picture of her blooming sunflower when Preschool Days classes resumed last week. She also told me proudly that she now goes to preschool and nature preschool.  Allison has been attending Preschool Days programs at the Schrader Center with her grandmother, aunt or mother since she was just 2-years-old, and before words.

There are still openings in the Fall Preschool Days program, but look for a change in the name this winter.  Starting in January, the Preschool Days program (2- to 4-year-olds with an adult”) will be called “Roots and Shoots”.  “Roots” better reflects the often multi-generational participants (grandparents, grandchildren, parents and caregivers) in the program.  And “Shoots” captures the growth and transition of our smallest nature learners from no words to an understanding and interest in the natural world around them.

The “Budding Naturalists” program for transitional kindergartners without an adult will keep its name. Both programs will retain their high quality, interactive programming and educational outdoor components.  Check out our programs online, or call the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855 to register. —By Robin Lee, Education Program Coordinator

Add Some Nature to Your Life this Summer!

It seems that what we at the Schrader Center have known all along is now being proven by a wider group of scientists and researchers…Nature Rocks! It’s true. If you add in some time spent outdoors in nature, you can lessen the amount of stress that you feel and increase cognitive skills and creativity, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and a Natural Learning Initiative study at North Carolina State University. Richard Louv, the author of “The Nature Principle: Reconnecting With Life in a Virtual Age” and “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder”, describes how it’s time to get back to nature in a recent article for the New York Times online edition. 

trail hikers

Oglebay Institute makes it easy to connect in nature with a myriad of summer camp options for adults and children of all ages. Check out OI’s website, and click on the Camps tab for information on Mountain Nature Camp, Junior Nature Camp and Nature Day Camp. Plus, we have tons of summer activities that put you right out on the trails and up close and personal with Mother Nature. We have guided nature walks, a fossil hunt, campfires, family backpacking and exploration and even astronomy! You can find a complete listing of our summer programs here:  OI_SP_rack_card.

Visit the Schrader Center this summer, and step into the outdoors with your family. We’re just a few minutes up the hill in Oglebay Park!

Earth Day Volunteering at the Schrader Center — April 20, 2013

IMG_1225Like the outdoors? Want to spend a little time helping improve the exterior grounds at the local nature center?

Schrader Center staff will host a volunteer work event in honor of Earth Day on Saturday, April 20 from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at the Schrader Center. We’ll be pulling privet, and other invasive species, planting trees and clearing walkways, cleaning up around the butterfly garden, and more! We encourage volunteers all of ages to participate for any amount of time! Volunteers should wear long sleeves, work pants and boots. Work gloves will be provided, but volunteers may bring their own. Coffee, tea and snacks will be complimentary.

Bird Walk — We’ll start the day out with a morning bird walk hosted by Brooks Bird member and Bethany College Professor of Biology, Jay Buckelew, from 9:00 -10:00 am. Meet in the lower parking lot of the Schrader Center near the trail head a few minutes before 9:00 am.

observatoryatoglebay

Astronomy Day Activities — Other activities include Oglebay Astronomy Club’s Astronomy Day program with two sessions. The daytime session will be held from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at the Speidel Observatory and includes solar viewing (weather permitting– many sunspots are currently visible), meteorite display, space science demonstrations and activities, and Speidel Observatory tours. The nighttime session will be held from 8:00 to 11:00 pm, also at the Speidel Observatory, and will include telescope astronomy (weather permitting–Jupiter is spectacular now!), night sky tour of the constellations and special Speidel Observatory tours.

Call the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855 for more information.

Sap is Flowing at the Schrader Center!

GmodrillingstationBy Erica McGrath–The sap season has begun at the Schrader Center and naturalists have been hard at work preparing for our upcoming harvest of maple syrup. During the warmer months, maple trees produce starches, which they store in their roots throughout the winter. As spring approaches the tree converts these starches to sugars which are carried to the rest of the tree in a fluid called sap. Sap flows through a portion of the outer trunk called the sapwood which is pressurized during the spring when temperatures rise above freezing during the day and drop below freezing at night. These fluctuations cause the sap to rise and allow us to safely collect sap without damaging the tree.

This sap, when collected and processed becomes the maple syrup we all enjoy. Here at the Schrader Center, we are putting the finishing touches on this year’s first batch of maple syrup. Sap was collected from our local stand of Sugar Maples (Acer saccharum) and processed by boiling the sap in a metal boiling machine called an evaporator. The evaporator boils away the water from the sap and leaves behind sticky, sweet syrup. It takes about forty gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. In the video below, naturalist Greg Park discusses the final steps of producing a batch of syrup:    To learn more about maple syrup production and its history, and to enjoy a hot pancake breakfast, be sure to come out to our Maple Sugaring Day on Saturday March 23. The event is held at Camp Russel in Oglebay Park and runs from 9am to 1pm. Admission: $7/$6 OI members. Call 304-242-6855 to book a one-hour tour.

Winter Activities for the Whole Family

seec king snakeIf you’re in need of something to do over the long months of winter, look no further!

Trek on up to the Schrader Center to participate in many of our fun, family outdoor and indoor activities over the winter! Not only do we have native snakes, turtles and fish that you can see and touch, we have an interactive video game that features a hike in Oglebay’s forest through the eyes of salamander, and even includes a boss fight with a snake! Or, you can fly over the forest on the wings of dragonfly.marcus2

On the first Saturday of the month from 12-4pm, families can discover more about the natural world by participating in our Scavenger Hunts that are free to all ages. Our children’s playroom is always open and filled with puppets, books, puzzles and games that are nature-focused. For the littlest naturalists, we offer youth programs like Preschool Days and Budding Naturalists every other Friday that teach children to act in a caring and responsible way towards their environment, themselves and others with hands-on educational activities.

ScarvesAnd, for the shoppers in the family the Holiday Art Show & Sale, featuring local artisan’s hand-crafted items in a variety of artistic styles is the best place to find one-of-a-kind holiday gifts.

If you can’t make it to the Schrader Center over the busy holidays, here are some ideas for fun, simple crafts that you can do with kids of all ages. They’re easy to do, require minimal supervision and will help get you and the kids in the holiday spirit. Be creative and remember to utilize recycled items around your house such as old ribbons or ties, twisties from bread bags, pine cones from your yard, old socks or material and metal cans.

Enjoy the winter days!

Arrows are Flying at the Schrader Center!

Archery is the art or skill of propelling arrows with a bow toward an intended target. A person who participates in archery is typically referred to as an archer or bowman, and according to Wikipedia, one who is fond of or an expert at archery can be referred to as a “toxophilite”. While archery has traditionally been the sport of  huntsmen, in modern times it has become a recreational activity enjoyed by all age groups. The Schrader Center’s resident toxophilite is none other than our own Greg Park, senior naturalist and birder extraordinaire.

There has been recent rise in the popularity of archery attributed to movies such as The Hunger Games and the success of 2012 Olympic silver medalist and American archer Brady Ellison. According to the Associated Press, NBC ranked archery as the most popular sport of any that it aired on its cable networks during the first few days of the 2012 Olympics– bigger even than basketball.

So what’s really got us going at the Schrader Center these days? You guessed it — archery! With the addition of two youth archery programs, that completely filled within the first two weeks, we’ve set up the targets and are preparing to see the feathers fly (arrow’s feathers, or course!) during the months of September and October. The programs, taught by Greg Park, are targeted to students between the ages of 9-12. Students meet on Tuesday or Wednesday from 4-5pm and are instructed in proper shooting technique, stances, form, range estimation, safety and more.

Several corporate groups visiting Oglebay Park have booked archery programs through the Schrader Center as team-building experiences for employees. Imagine being lined up beside your boss, suited up in archery gear with a bow and arrow?

We hope to be able to add additional archery courses that are available to the public in the spring 2013. Check out OI’s website for updated listings. Give us a call at the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855 for more information.

Monarch Metamorphosis

Here at the Schrader Center we get to see a lot of cycles.  The weather cycles of winter, spring, summer and fall bring with them ever-changing environmental events.  We celebrate the signs of spring with our Maple Sugaring event, seize summer with our collection of camps, say aloha to autumn with our annual R.E.A.P. program, and withstand the winter with pre-school day programming and free Saturday Scavenger Hunts.  Currently we are capturing an up-close view of one particular process – the life cycle of a monarch butterfly.

The evolution of a monarch butterfly takes about 30 days in its entirety.  The four-part process starts with an egg, and the relationship between monarchs and milkweed begins.  Depending on the temperature, it can take the egg 3 to 5 days to hatch into the second stage of the monarch’s cycle:  the caterpillar.  Monarch caterpillars constantly consume food (the milkweed plant) and produce frass (caterpillar solid waste) until they shed their exoskeleton, also called their cuticle, four times.  This shedding is once again individual to environment, and this pre-pupation can take 14-18 days.

The third part of the process is the pupa stage.  Also known as “the hanging J,” the caterpillar will spin a silk button to suspend itself,  fastened upside down.  The chrysalis will form and become firm and this “jade green jewel” dangles for about 10 days before a butterfly begins to break through.   The fourth and final factor then forms.

The butterfly emerges but its wings will not expand.  It must push hemolymph, butterfly blood, into its body for another hour or two before the wings will work.  The butterfly will then depart from its former dwelling and fly away.  You can see this entire process at the Schrader Environmental Education Center, as well as view our Monarch Rabble Butterfly Display and Memorial, and explore on your own in our butterfly garden. – By Sara Fincham, Schrader Center Customer Service Representative