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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September 2018 Nature Net News – Environmental Education
September Environmental Education I started working at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and with Nature Net in the year 2000, when the field of environmental education was "middle-aged" - that is, halfway through its existence to date - and perhaps just reaching the cusp of its full potential. It was the early 1970s when Earth Day was born and a civil movement began around the idea of caring for and protecting our natural resources. Not long after, in 1977, delegates ...Continue Reading
June/July 2018 Nature Net News – Conservation
June/July Conservation Have you ever heard the origin-story of the teddy bear? The story goes that Teddy Roosevelt had taken a break from the Oval Office in the fall of 1902 to go black bear hunting in Mississippi. On the second day of the hunt, while the president was back at camp for lunch, the dogs cornered a bear and the hunting guide - wanting the president to have the honor of killing the bear - gave the beast a knock on ...Continue Reading
May 2018 Nature Net News – Woodlands
May Woodlands Last November, after the risk of spreading oak wilt had passed, we had a huge, ailing White oak tree taken down in our yard. This old grandmother of a tree was about 100 inches in circumference and we figure was at minimum reaching the century mark. It was sad to see her go but dead limbs 80 feet up were dangerous, and we were rewarded a healthy stack of firewood. Seemingly on an unrelated note, the grass and some of ...Continue Reading
April 2018 Nature Net News – School Gardening
April School Gardening One of my favorite teachers at my children's elementary school was able to sense when the kid's energy level reached a non-productive level. Her go-to response was to head out to the school garden to weed, water, and mulch. Usually they would go for just 10 minutes - but that was enough. Marta, who was named the 2015 Formal Environmental Educator of the Year, intuitively knew the power of outdoor time, gardening, and fresh air on student's ability ...Continue Reading
March 2018 Nature Net News – Algae
March Algae We set the topics for these Nature Net News posts a year in advance. I dropped in this vivid green image and sat wondering what I wanted to share about algae. The very next day, at the UW Arboretum Winter Enrichment Lecture - a series that I regularly attend - Professor Ben Zuckerberg, who was there to present on Birds & Climate Change, started talking about algae. It's funny - and wonderful - how the universe sometimes speaks to you. Zuckerberg's bird/climate/algae ...Continue Reading
February 2018 Nature Net News – Polar Regions
February Polar Regions When BBC's Planet Earth series came out in 2006, our family was psyched. Although the entire first series is now conveniently available on Netflix, back then, watch-on-demand technology did not exist (at least not in our house). So, we marked the calendar for the days it would air, and cozied up to watch and learn about shallow seas, deserts, and polar regions. I remember telling my uncle, who has always held a place in his heart for nature and the natural world, ...Continue Reading
January 2018 Nature Net News – Meteors
January Meteors I had heard of the Perseid Meteor shower (it always happens around my dad's birthday) but have to admit I was not aware that each year roughly a dozen major meteor showers occur that are fairly easy to observe. We've missed the first one of the year (Quadrantid, which peaked on January 3rd, 2018) but I'm gearing up for the next one, Lyrids, which is active from April 16th - 25th, 2018. While major, minor, and variable meteor ...Continue Reading
December 2017 Nature Net News – Winter Landscapes
December Winter Landscapes Do you remember the excitement you felt as a child when you woke to see the first snowfall had changed the landscape overnight? As adults we tend to groan as we look out the window and contemplate shoveling, scraping off the car, and the extra twenty minutes it will take to get just about anywhere. While it may be hard for us to remember that thrill, if you interview any child under the age of fourteen, you'll find that solid precipitation well ...Continue Reading
November 2017 Nature Net News – Owls
November Owls We used to teach students about the silent flight of owls by swinging blocks of wood. The blocks were attached to a rope; one was covered in carpeting and one was not. As we swung the blocks in a fast circle, lasso-style, students could easily hear the plain block whoosh by, but the carpeted block was silent. The differing blocks demonstrated the purpose of a special feathery fringe that covers the leading edge of an owl's wing. According to KQED ...Continue Reading
October 2017 Nature Net News – Ants
October Ants As a young naturalist, someone once told me that ants are to the prairie as worms are to a garden: they move soil and nutrients around and keep the top- and sub-soil layers healthy. I've shared this analogy with many students since that time, but never really dug any deeper. Last month's blog post on prairies got me thinking about the depth of ecosystem intricacies in the prairie, and the role each species plays in creating a balance. I figured it was time to ...Continue Reading