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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!

Schrader Center Junior Naturalists Make an Interesting Discovery!

As Schrader Center Junior Naturalists, this is our fifth weak of volunteering this summer and our first blog post.  Within the last five weeks, we have found a lot of cool discoveries, and we can’t believe it has been this long!  Today, we decided to share the experience we had with a cicada we found while clearing out wood from an archery course.  While moving a log, one of our Junior Naturalists, Amelia, found a strange looking creature lurking in the ground.  After digging it out, and placing it lightly on a glove, she called over our instructor, Erica, who confirmed that it was a cicada!  After snapping a photo, we headed back to our office to find more information.  Using a new thing called the internet (you’ve probably never heard of it), we discovered that it was an “annual cicada”. These are different than the periodical cicadas. Periodical cicadas spend the first 17 years of their lives underground and emerge all at the same time in large swarms.Nymph4-29-07A

We scavenged some insect and wildlife books from around the building, and pulled out our nature journals to take notes.  We gathered tons of interesting facts!  For example, did you know that adult male cicadas only live for about a week?  Imagoes, another word for adult cicadas, look for mates by spending their time in trees and singing. When a male sings, females respond, which in turn triggers mating, and the cycle of life begins. Cicadas make their trademark mechanical buzz with an organ called a tymbal. The tymbal is made up of a thick membrane set in the chamber of the insect’s thorax. As the membrane vibrates, the sound resonates and amplifies, creating the cicada’s song. As you can see, we have a lot of fun, and make tons of new discoveries every day!

See you soon,

The Junior Naturalists

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.

Cupcakes for Volunteers!

Oglebay Falls By Jake Francis, Director of Environmental Education–One thing that sets the Ohio Valley apart from other places I have lived is the intense pride that many of us hold for our natural resources.  It might have something to do with the massive body of water that we use as a reference for almost everything, or perhaps it has something to do with the rich tradition of sportsmanship in this valley. But I believe it has a lot to do with the amazing and unique city parks that are inextricably tied to our city’s identity.

In my two years here, I have met students who are willing to slave in the heat of summer working to conserve our forests, young adults shaping our food landscape and bringing green space to our downtown, and octogenarians who have given their entire life over to the our city parks and Oglebay Institute.  And, as I was trying to write a post about our upcoming volunteer opportunities, all I could think of was how much thanks we owe to you all!

In light of that, I want to share a couple of organized volunteer days we will be having at the Schrader Center which will focus on doing some much-needed maintenance on our trail systemphoto2 and continuing our battle with invasive exotic plant species that are threatening our forests.  We will be holding workdays from 9am-3pm on February 23 and April 20.  We will have all of the tools needed and can provide work gloves, as well as some hot beverages, snacks, and congratulatory cupcakes to thank you all for everything you do.  If you can’t make those days, don’t fret. You can call me at the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855, and I’ll make sure you get a cupcake, but you’ll have to spend some time discussing birding, botany, herpetology, or the like!  I hope you can forgive this departure from my normally scientific blog posts, and that you can come see us in the next couple of months!

What: Volunteer Days at the Schrader Center

When: February 23 & April 20

Where: Schrader Center, Oglebay Park

Time: 9am-3pm

Info: 304-242-6855

 Chocolate_cupcakes

 

Last Trail Maintenance Day for 2012

Last volunteer Trail Maintenance Day for 2012 will be this Saturday, Dec. 15 from 10am-12pm at the Schrader Center. We’re continuing to focus on the removal of invasive exotic species, such as European Privet, and to clean up the trail for visitors. 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 provided. Call the Schrader Center at 304-242-6855 for more information.

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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!