Nature Net’s monthly blog highlights seasonal topics and helps you feel like the expert. Each edition features tips for educators and families, and links to exciting, nature-focused websites.

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August 2017 Nature Net News – Wisconsin Mammals
August Wisconsin Mammals By best estimations there are about 72 resident mammal species in Wisconsin. Guesses on the Order with the most species? It's Rodentia with 26 species of squirrels, chipmunks, voles, and mice - plus the lemming, porcupine, beaver and pocket gopher. I recall Scott Craven, perhaps Wisconsin's most famous Wildlife Ecologist, once stating that the meadow vole is the most populous mammal in Wisconsin. I couldn't find anything to verify that but I believe him. He has, after all, ...Continue Reading
July 2017 Nature Net News – Bugs That Bug
July Bugs That Bug When I last wrote a "Bugs That Bug" post in the mid-2000s, it was West Nile Virus that had everyone concerned. First documented in Wisconsin in 2002, West Nile - an arbovirus that is transmitted by a bite of an infected mosquito - caught the media's attention and had people brushing up on best practices for avoiding mosquitoes. Now that Zika virus has joined our lexicon and our sleepless night worries, the mosquito's reputation has dipped lower than loathsome. The same ...Continue Reading
May 2017 Nature Net News – Endangered Species
May Endangered Species Have you heard about April the giraffe's live stream birth? It's likely you have, considering at last check the archived footage from the April 14th birth - shown on Animal Adventure Park's "Giraffe Cam" - had well over 14.7 million views. One might assume this level of fandom for one giraffe and her calf indicates an interest in not only April's well being but that of her wild relatives, as well. And perhaps that assumption is true given that five ...Continue Reading
April 2017 Nature Net News – Earth Day
April Earth Day It sometimes gets depressing. The current national administration is suggesting steep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (threatening not only the Climate Protection Program, but also grant programs that fund communities seeking to provide clean drinking water, clean up brownfields, protect the Great Lakes, and more). And the state budget process is taking a swipe at clean water protections, forestry education, and renewable energy credits (find out more from the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters). It's sometimes hard to keep a positive attitude. ...Continue Reading
March 2017 Nature Net News – Equinox
March Equinox Although there's currently snow on the ground and my outdoor thermometer was hovering around 20 degrees this morning, I keep saying to myself, "there's no turning back now." And indeed, spring is coming. The solar terminator will be perpendicular to the equator, the sun will cross the celestial equator, and the sun's ecliptic longitude will reach zero. And this will all happen on March 20th, despite any snow out my window. The vernal equinox, which marks the astronomical beginning of spring in ...Continue Reading
February 2017 Nature Net News – Enjoying Winter
February Enjoying Winter I have to admit, my innate preference for wintertime activities leans more toward the Danish practice of hygge (pron. hUE-gah) than to snow-spraying adventures. Hygge is loosely defined as "cozy" but really, it's deeper than that. It's the way Danish people survive the cold, dark days of winter with plenty of candlelight, piles of blankets by the fireplace, or tea and conversation with friends -- it seems each person's definition of hygge is as unique as they are. And while spending wintertime hunkered ...Continue Reading
January 2017 Nature Net News – Starry Skies
January Starry Skies With nearly 14 hours of darkness still cloaking our nights this month, it's a perfect time to take advantage of the lack of sunlight to explore the night skies. Easy to spot constellations like Orion, Cassiopeia, Pegasus, and Ursa Major/Big Dipper all track across the sky during pre-bedtime hours, and this week's night sky includes bright-shining Venus and Mars simultaneously in the southwest. As an amateur star-gazer who would like to instill a sense of wonder and delight in my own children's upward ...Continue Reading
December 2016 Nature Net News – Wisconsin Pioneers
December Wisconsin Pioneers My first summer teaching at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, there was a line like no other for the Laura Ingalls Wilder day camp. Children in bonnets, clutching their copies of "Little House in the Big Woods," couldn't wait to spend the day living like Laura. We made jam, churned butter, swept out the cabin, and hung laundry on the line. When their parents came to pick them up, they didn't want to stop scrubbing soapy rags ...Continue Reading
November 2016 Nature Net News – Paleontology
November Paleontology Remember Brontosaurus? When I was a kid, it was all about Brontosaurus, T. Rex, Stegosaurus, and Triceratops. Those were the big players in my childhood fascination with dinosaurs - and they were pretty much it. So imagine my surprise when twenty-five years later, as I delved into dino books with my kids, that not only was big, booming, Brontosaurus gone (though lately returned - more on that later), but there were hundreds of new species. Who was this Sarcosuchus ...Continue Reading
October 2016 Nature Net News – Birds Around the World
October Birds Around the World Some people just have a knack for storytelling. George Archibald is one of them. When I heard him speak last fall at the Midwest Environmental Education Conference about his love affair with cranes and his lifelong passion for crane conservation, he wove a tale filled with hilarious encounters with a Whooping crane who was pair-bonded with him; his amazing travel exploits to the demilitarized zone in Korea to work on saving precious crane habitat; and his never-ending message ...Continue Reading