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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Adding a Little More to Our 4H Tuesday

We had our regular 4H project meetings this afternoon.  We began with Wildlife and finished up with Robotics as this has become our regular routine.  However, today we had to throw in a County Council meeting just for fun!  Here is how we made it all happen:

We began the Wildlife meeting with an activity designed by the copier machine!  LOL...I had created a chart with all of the plant preferences to give to the group.  When I asked to have it copied, the light gray squares on the chart (representing the plant preference for each animal) did not copy.  Michael said instead of wasting the charts we should have the 4Hers fill it out on their own.  It was a great way to review and keep the group occupied as they were entering the classroom.

Then we discussed the final five Habitat Management Practices:

  • Thin Timber—(not just pines) control density of the forestry canopy; trees receive more sunlight, moisture and nutrients (applies to grasses, forbs, vines and shrubs as well); also provides room for crown growth and development of producing trees 
  • Retain Hardwood—(during pine harvesting) choosing to keep valuable hardwoods instead of harvesting for their market value; retain 10-20% of hardwoods; most do not produce well until older than 25 years 
  • Clear Patches in Timber—(timber stands over 5 years old) create openings to provide the sunlight needed to grow desired vegetation; enhance habitat diversity, create seasonal habitat and increase quality and quantity of vegetative growth and fruiting; openings allow best growth of grasses, forbs and legumes, as well as browse production; locate in area with two or more habitat edges; openings should be irregular (to create more edge), width 1.5 times the height of trees, and 1-5 acres; openings for every 50-100 acres of forest
  • Deaden Hardwood—(removal by chemical or mechanical means) removal of unwanted, low value hardwoods; controls some plants to favor others; results in more sunlight penetrating the forest stand and increase growth of low growing plants; creates small openings in forest stand; direct toward vines, shrubs, and low value trees (not oaks unless poor quality); similar to thinning-look at the market value-low market value or need
  • Leave Unmowed Strips—(field borders) beneficial travel corridors and feeding areas; this may include pasture set aside, idle areas, old homesteads, and fence rows; located 200 feet from tree or brush cover; often disking takes place along with this practice; strips should have breaks every 150-200 feet to allow for easy escapes
  • Construct Firebreaks/Access Roads—(prevents or controls spread of fire) purposes for these practices are different but can be interchangeable; provide wildlife food plants and expose bare ground for dusting and feeding; may provide travel routes for wildlife; should be planned to protect different land uses; usually 6 feet or wider; erosion control should be first step in planning and annual inspections are necessary

We will take a quiz over these habitat practices next week.  My plan is to have different case scenarios that will need to have a change in habitat for a focal species.

I had my final Plant ID/Preference presentation with 20 Grasses & Forbs.  Thankfully, this difficult group of plants changed a lot in the new curriculum.  I was able to explain MOST of the plants on the list and how to tell them apart (in theory).  After this part of the meeting, Jaron was set to present on the Fox Squirrel.  We were running out of time before the museum closed but it was not a long program so we thought we would be OK.  Unfortunately, when the curator started shutting down the remaining lights in the building it shut down our power source as well!  So, Jaron was a trooper and finished his presentation out behind the building!  All's well that ends well!

Homework for the group is to review the Habitat Management Techniques discussed (found in Wildlife book pages 150-172) and Fox Squirrel biological facts (pages 71-75).  Also, to practice identifying plant preferences for all the species for our quiz.

Half way through this meeting, Sean and Katy needed to be at the County Council meeting.  We were so glad Lynda offered to take them to this meeting so it did not disturb Wildlife.  The meeting was well attended by the various clubs in the county.  They discussed Gold Star banquet and other events that are coming up.  They also voted on the county spirit award and 4H Friend award.  These awards will be announced at the Gold Star banquet.

After the Wildlife meeting, I shuttled Michael, Henry, and Edward to the Robotics meeting.  Then I dropped Matt off with Lynda and picked up Sean so we could get back to the meeting.  A lot of racing around but it all worked thanks to 4H team work!

We had a smaller group at Robotics tonight.  We had three teams making a balance from the miscellaneous parts in our 'junk drawer.'  The idea was to create a balance that would easily balance weights (washers) on each side.  Once this was completed, the teams had to move the fulcrum off center and show how the weights would balance.  They learned that the number of washers multiplied by the distance from center (torque) was equal on each side of the balance.  It was a great lesson of mechanics.  I think the groups all enjoyed trying to make their balance 'work.'

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