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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!

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Spring Seed Sowing Topic of Public Garden Lecture Series

Pink_petuniasIt’s the time of year when gardeners are eager to get back to the soil. Wheeling Park High School’s Floriculture Instructor, Don Headley, will give a hands-on demonstration of starting seeds for the upcoming gardening season Monday, Feb. 25 at the  Ohio County Master Gardeners’ February Public Garden Lecture Series held at the Schrader Environmental Center at 7:00 pm. All lectures are free and open to the public.Tomatoseedlings

Mr. Headley will show different ways to get seeds to germinate, whether on a windowsill or in a greenhouse, and he is even experimenting with something called a “seed sock.” (No, it’s not footwear–it’s made of woven agricultural fabric.) Mr. Headley is also planning to bring various types of vegetable and flower seeds and will address the differences between hybrid and heirloom varieties, as well as explain how to time your seed-starting so your plants are ready to be transplanted into the garden at the right time and how to protect the seedlings from frost if you happen to jump the gun a bit.

220px-CabbageMr. Headley says his students already have cabbage, tomato, pepper and petunia plants popping above the soil in the greenhouse at Wheeling Park High School. He’s been teaching at WPHS for 22 years, both floriculture and auto body collision repair. He’s hinted that he may have a free gift for everyone attending the lecture–something to take home and put on a windowsill…

For more information about the Public Garden Lecture Series, please call the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855.

Family Nature Camp Offers Something for Everyone

Bring your family and join in the fun with the opportunity to camp together at Oglebay Institute’s Mountain Nature Camp on the weekend of Aug. 24-26, 2012.  As a mother and nature educator, I am looking forward to this opportunity to join other families at OI’s Mountain Nature Camp near Terra Alta, Preston County, WV for a weekend of camping and outdoor play.

Schrader Environmental Education Center naturalist, Greg Park, will be on hand as well as nature educators and other families for a weekend of outdoor fun in a comfortable, safe environment. The Family Camp weekend will offer programming suitable for beginner outdoors people and seasoned naturalists alike.

Facilities include a bathhouse and a small lodge with a dining room and lounge. Campers arrive Friday evening for check-in, set-up, dinner and campfire. Saturday will include a wide range of activities for beginners and experienced outdoors people including nature instruction, hiking, fishing, canoeing, camping gear demonstration, outdoor creative play and campfire. One additional activity will be provided Sunday morning before check-out. Each family will leave with a small gift to help them play outside!

Cost is $75 for each parent with a child and $25 for each additional child. Oglebay Institute members pay $65 for parent with a child and $20 each additional child. Call the Schrader Center at  304-242-6855 to register.

This camp rounds out the host of the Schrader Environmental Center’s camping and nature education programs including Nature Day Camp (https://sites.google.com/site/seecndc/), Junior Nature Camp (www.juniornaturecamp.org ) and Mountain Nature Camp (www.mountainnaturecamp.org ).

Natasha Diamond has a B.S. in Wildlife Resources and a Master’s in Public Administration. Her love for wildlife, the outdoors and for helping children and families experience them, has led her to her most recent projects; program director for Oglebay Institute’s Junior Nature Camp and Mudpie Magic, an outdoor play and learning group for children and families in the Morgantown area. She also serves as full-time adventure guide for her two children, ages 6 and 3. www.wildplacesopenspaces.wordpress.com

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

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.

Hammerhead worms (Bipalium adventitium) Along Hardwood Ridge Trail in Oglebay Park

By Jake Francis, Director of Environmental Education – Recently, while catching my wits on the forest floor after a fall, I noticed an interesting invertebrate moving through the decaying leaves. This organism is closely related to the aquatic planaria that many of our Nature Day Campers and School Groups would recognize by its ‘crossed eyes’ and it ability to regenerate from both ends if cut in half. This turbellarian, known commonly as the hammerhead worm, is in the same order (2 taxanomic levels higher than genus) as the common freshwater planarian in our streams, and shares its ability to regenerate after an injury.

The hammerhead worm (Bipalium adventitium) preys primarily on earthworms,which they locate using chemical sensors along the front of their enlarged head. To eat the worms they exude their pharynx (located in the middle of its body), digests the worm, then absorb the nutritious liquid. Here is a link to a hammerhead worm digesting an earthworm showing the pharynx (large white appendage), but be warned the image of digestion is not for the faint of heart! 

This species of flatworm is introduced from Asia, and some scientists believe they pose a threat to north american earthworm populations. For more reading on this interesting beast check out some scientific articles at:

Feeding Behavior of a Terrestrial Turbellarian Bipalium adventitium

Reproductive ecology and evolution in the invasive terrestrial planarian Bipalium adventitium across North America

Observations on Feeding Behavior by the Terrestrial Flatworm Bipalium adventitium (Platyhelminthes: Tricladida: Terricola) from Illinois

Schrader Center to Provide Hands-on Activities at The Lorax Debut

Schrader Center staff will be on hand this Saturday at Marquee Cinemas at the Highlands for the opening of the new animated feature film The Lorax about a character who “speaks for the trees.” Staffers will be in the lobby of Marquee Cinemas from noon – 5 p.m. Saturday, March 3 presenting activities that include live native animals, artistic leaf rubbing, an Age the Trees counting rings contest and more. There will also be giveaways and prize drawings including one for a free week of Oglebay Institute Nature Day Camp! Activities are free and open to the public.

“The Schrader Center embraces the film’s nature-friendly message and has partnered with Marquee Cinemas at The Highlands to provide educational, eco-centered games, activities and displays for children to enjoy before and after screenings on Saturday,” said Schrader Center director Eriks Janelsins.

A portion of The Lorax ticket sales will benefit the Schrader Environmental Education Center. Visit Marquee Cinemas website for showtimes and prices. And, when you “leaf” the movie, don’t forget to discover the forest!