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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Here Comes Eastern Cottontail...

and Eastern Squirrel!

Today in honor of the Easter Bunny...and all his furry friends that are seen this time of year...I thought we would talk about this bouncy critter as well as his friend the squirrel.

Eastern cottontail

General information
Eastern cottontails occur in the eastern half of the country. They prefer brushy cover inter­spersed with Stage 3. Eastern cottontails are also found in suburban areas, parks, golf cours­es and stream corridors. Eastern cottontails rep­resent prey for the majority of carnivorous pred­ators within its range. They are prolific breeders, however, as female may have seven litters per year, with 3 to 6 young per litter. This is required to perpetuate populations as 70 percent to 80 per­cent of all rabbits die each year.

Habitat requirements
Diet: forbs and grasses (Stages 2 and 3), browse, and soft mast from spring through fall; in winter, bark of shrubs and trees, as well as buds, grain and browse
Water: necessary water obtained from diet
Cover: shrub cover, brush piles, native perennial warm-season grasses and forbs (Stage 3) for loafing and escape cover; burrows are also used for denning and escape

Eastern gray squirrel

General information
The Eastern gray squirrel lives primarily in Stage 6 deciduous forests and woodlands. They also forage along the edge of crop fields, espe­cially harvested cornfields. These squirrels have adapted to parks and other urban areas where mature trees are available. Eastern gray squir­rels forage both in trees and on the ground. They den in cavities of mature trees and also build nests generally 30 feet or more above ground. Eastern gray squirrels will use nest boxes, but they are not necessary since nests are built in the absence of cavities; thus, available cavities are not a limiting factor for population growth.

Habitat requirements
Diet: a variety of hard and soft mast, miscella­neous seeds, grains, bark, buds and mush­rooms; they may also eat eggs
Water: necessary water is generally obtained through diet, but free-standing water is also used
Cover: Stage 6 forest and woodlands; suburban and urban areas with mature trees; den in tree cavities and also build nests of leaves and twigs

We also learned a lot about the different groupings for the management techniques...thank you to Ms. Renee!  I will have that for everyone next week!  

Then we went out on the trails and examined the canopy for density and the ability for light to come in through the tops of the trees.  Everything looked great for the squirrels and other wildlife.  A great time was had by all as we discovered an old bike trail with ramp to take a group picture out in the nature we all love!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Robotics Challenge

Michael had the teams challenge each other to a Robotics Duel tonight!  I was really surprised because the teams really have not had a lot of time learning how to program.  I thought the idea of the teams making up a challenge for each other would make it too difficult for them to complete the challenges.  Besides...what if they did not finish and 'the moms' were left to figure out how to help the teams (Tonight was Michael's last chance to help before leaving for Afghanistan!).

However, the teams set to work quickly and got a good start to meeting their challenges.

Team 1 was challenged to do the following task:
Pick up a ball.
Spin around 3 times.
Move forward three feet.
Drop the ball.

Team 2 was asked:
Move forward 5 feet.
Kick a ball.
Spin around five times.

So...the robots were made...very creative designs...and the programming began.  The teams have a little more to complete for next week but they are off to a great start.

I think this is why Robotics is so fun!  The different ways the 4Hers set out to solve a problem is great for problem solving skills development.  Regardless of what they might do in the future, these skills will always be helpful. an is fun to see their minds working out the problems!

Entomology Fun

We are going on the second week and I have not even had a chance to blog on this fun project for Sean! I am so glad Sean likes this project and 4H provides this opportunity for him.

The last two weeks the 4Hers have learned about:

Classification (King Phillip cried out, "For goodness sake!")

Parts of an insect (They had fun drawing insects for this part of the lesson!)

Abdomen (legs and wings attached here)

They also have learned the importance of insects to our environment.

Now they have begun the review of the orders that will be presented to them at contest.

Mantodea (Mantids)
Phasmatodea (Walking Sticks)
Ephemeroptera (Mayflies)

Odonata (Damselflies and Dragonflies)
Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, crickets, katydids)
Blattodea (Roaches)
Isoptera (Termites)

These are just a few of the ones they will need to know...a few more weeks to learn.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Somethinng's a Little Fishy

We took some time to review our fish species for the contest today.  Did you ever wonder why we were told not to say "fishes" in school?  Come to find out that it is perfectly acceptable as long as you are talking about more than one species.  So we have 10 bluegill fish, but there are 27 species of fishes in Texas.  Very interesting!

Thankfully we only need to know two of those species of fishes!

General information
The bluegill is one of the most abundant bream species. It thrives in a variety of conditions, ranging from freshwater lakes, ponds and slow moving streams, to brackish waters of coastal areas. The bluegill’s native range is the eastern U.S. from southern Canada to Florida and Texas, but they have been successfully introduced throughout the U.S.

Habitat requirements
Diet: a variety of zooplankton (microscopic animal life) during the first few months of life, progressing to insects and their larvae, eggs, earthworms, tadpoles, small minnows and crayfish
Cover: submerged rocks, woody debris and aquatic vegetation where small fish (used for food) hide
Water: basic requirements include dissolved oxygen (minimum of four parts per million); pH between 6.5 and 9.0; and water temperature should reach at least 70 F during the summer (one foot below surface in the shade)

Largemouth Bass
General information
Largemouth bass are not really bass but members of the sunfish family. Largemouth bass are an extremely popular freshwater sport fish in states where they are found. They can be found in freshwater lakes, rivers, large streams, farm ponds and brackish marshes.

Habitat requirements
Diet: young bass eat insects and other invertebrates (worms, crayfish and zooplankton); adults eat small fish such as bluegill and a variety of minnows, as well as tadpoles, crayfish and even ducklings
Cover: submerged rocks, woody debris and near aquatic vegetation where small fish (prey) hide
Water: basic requirements include dissolved oxygen (minimum of four parts per million); pH should range between 6.5 and 9.0; water temperature should reach at least 70 F during summer (one foot below surface in shade)

Wildlife management practices

Decrease Harvest: refer to wildlife management practices for specifics on fish harvest
Increase Harvest: refer to wildlife management practices for specifics on fish harvest
Manage disturbance: grazing management should maintain thick herbaceous vegetation surrounding the pond and in the watershed that drains into the pond; livestock watering facilities should be developed away from pond or allow access to only a small part of the pond
Ponds: Construction: where no suitable water source is present and/or where an existing pond needs extensive repair, especially to the dike or dam, including significant tree removal on the dike or dam
Ponds: Deepen Edges: where pond edges are not at least 2 feet deep to discourage rooted aquatic vegetation
Ponds: Fertilize/Lime: fertilize to promote phytoplankton growth when visibility is more than 18 inches below the water surface; add agricultural limestone to increase soil pH if total alkalinity is below 20 ppm
Ponds: Reduce Turbidity/Reseed Watershed: by reseeding the watershed where soil is eroding into the pond and causing muddy water
Ponds: Repair Spillway/Levee: if not functioning properly
Ponds: Restock: if the population is too far out of balance to correct via seining or fishing or if undesirable species are present
Water Control Structures: should be installed if none are present so water depth can be controlled

We also learned about pond  dynamics and balance.  I found a good understanding of the various factors that effect this balance.  It is from an Illinois source but still helpful.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Our Lego NXT sets arrived and today we were finally able to open them up!  We had a quick introduction to the NXT kit and software, and then divided into two groups.  

Each group had an NXT set and began building their initial robots.  We used the plans included in the manuals that came with the kits.  This is a good introduction because it uses the standard LEGO assembly instructions, as well as introducing each of the sensors and basic programming on the NXT itself.  

The children had a lot of fun putting them all together, but really got excited as they tested the movement system, the sound sensor and the ultrasonic sensor.  

Next week we will finish the basic robot and introduction to the sensors, and start programming on the computer.  the children are really looking forward to creating challenges for the robots to overcome.

We will also be changing the meeting time to 5PM to get an earlier start.

And Today was for the Turkeys

This seems to be our week for experts!  Today we had Mr. Dale from the NWTF talk to us about turkeys.  He was awesome, especially when he told the group personal stories from his work and play! He is all about turkeys!

This began with his work for the Forest Service as a publicist.  He documented the return of the Wild Turkey to Texas.  He talked to the group about the lumber removal in the early 1900s causing the depletion of habitat requirements for the wildlife (his interest being the turkey) and it would not be until  the early 1970s that the Forestry Service to take the initiative to replant and reintroduce the Wild Turkey.  Mr. Dale was there to take photos and videos of this event.

From the article written in our local paper (with Dale's assistance), we learned:  "...turkey numbers continued a slow spiral in the wrong direction despite the thousands of man hours and millions of dollars that were spent restoring them beginning in the 1980s.  All total, more than 8,000 wild trapped turkeys purchased from other states at a cost of $525 each were released on select "block stocking" sites in nearly 60 counties between 1987 and 1995. The project was funded by the National Wild Turkey Federation Texas Super Fund, turkey stamp and public hunting permit sales and private donations.  The theory was the wild transplants would reproduce and expand to the point of being able to withstand the limited hunting pressure of a month-long season outfitted with restrictive harvest regulations, including a one-bird bag limit.

"Beginning in 2007, the TPWD, NWTF and SFA forestry department joined forces to implement a series research projects aimed at unraveling some of the mysteries behind fizzling turkey populations and ultimately turning things around.  At the heart of the project were a series of "super stockings"...A super stocking includes 80 wild turkeys (60 hens and 20 gobblers), more than five times the number of birds utilized in the former block stocking criteria. ...The results from the research have been so encouraging that the department has elected to reopen the eastern wild turkey stocking program, this time using a habitat evaluation tool developed by the TPWD, SFA and the NWTF.  Fittingly called the "Habitat Suitability Index" (HSI), the tool will allow scientists to assess and rank potential eastern turkey super stocking sites for future stockings."

Mr. Dale also spoke about the added effect of fragmentation due to urbanization and future roadways.  He really focused on the youth holding the responsibility of the conservation of wildlife and their habitats.  He encouraged the youth to learn and stay informed for future endeavors, whether in career decisions or as responsible land owners and citizens.

I was happy to see that when he ended the meeting with the 4Hers given the opportunity to ask questions, the youth focused on the needs of the turkey in their habitats.  Mr. Dale was able to discuss some of the specific needs of the Wild Turkey with ease.  We learned that the three main obstacles for increase of the Wild Turkey population were: predators, habitat, and weather.  We are responsible for learning how to maintain and increase this population through our land management techniques.  It was easy to see that Mr. Dale was enthusiastic about turkeys when he told about his encounters with this intelligent bird.  His eyes would light up and he was at ease in his role as educator.

Mr. Dale ended the meeting by giving our group a gift!  What a nice surprise!  He gave us a educational kit which includes curriculum ideas related to the turkey.  I have always wanted one of these kits and it will be nice to have this kit available for future groups.

When Mr. Dale left, we were still able to discuss the White-tailed Deer (many of the same habitat requirements) and discuss species richness and diversity, as well as carrying capacity.  Then we broke into groups to practice a scenario.

A BIG thank you for Mr. Dale sharing with our group!

Here are the basic requirements for the Wild Turkey and White-tailed Deer:

Wild Turkey

Habitat requirements
Diet: various hard mast including acorns and beechnuts; soft mast including blackberries and black cherry; insects and other invertebrates including spiders and snails; miscellaneous seeds; leaves from forbs and grasses; grain from a variety of agricultural crops; chufa tubers
Water: obtain water from diet but will use free-standing water when available
Cover: mature forest, regenerating forest, brushy areas and old-fields with rank cover for nesting; nest is a shallow depression on the ground lined with leaves and/or grass and is usually well concealed amongst vegetation or against some object (such as a tree, log or brush); mature forest, Stages 2 and 3 forb cover, and grain fields for feeding; trees or tall shrubs for roosting

White-tailed Deer

Habitat requirements
Diet: forbs, browse, acorns, beechnuts, grains, grasses and mushrooms; in the northern parts of the range, coniferous browse is very important in winter
Water: obtain most of their water from diet but will drink free-standing water when available
Cover: dense woody vegetation as well as relatively tall early successional cover including native grasses, forbs and shrubs

We also had the group who attended the rodeo give a short presentation about their experience.  It sounds like they learned a lot from the experience and we were all thankful for the information they shared.  Several announcements were made about future events....birding introduction class...private property evaluation, and more!  I look forward to telling about them as the events occur.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Learning from the Experts

Today we were able to gather for our 4H Photography group.  This might be our last meeting for the year, so I wanted to finish strong.  We talked about careers related to photography (see list below).  Many photography-related jobs do require a degree from a college or art institute. However, many successful photographers are self-taught. Internships can provide hands-on experience, and some companies are willing to do training for some photography-related positions.

To go along with this discussion, I was able to have the editor of our local daily paper talk to the group about photojournalism.  It was great to learn about this career from someone who started out in the business at such a young age.    Mr. Andy is also from the area so it gave these budding photographers a good perspective. He told the 4Hers how he started out at 16 years old writing about his beloved sports hobby.  He would report on high school games he was attending.  This is also when he began taking pictures for his stories.

He then talked about his college career and how he was so glad to return to his hometown to work for the newspaper where he began.  He is now the editor of this local paper, but his reporting days have not ended. He still loves to go to the local games to report the scores.  He also listens to police reports and attends events in the area to report in the news.

He showed us pictures from his portfolio.  These included several sporting events, a holiday ballet, and even a special trip to New York he took with his son.  He also was kind enough to share with us some unpublished photos that will be used in upcoming articles for the paper.  He showed us how important it was to show emotion in the photos to tell a good story.  His vacation photos were used to show us how you can tell a story without words.  He told us that his ballet photos were some of the best he had taken in his career!

We spent the rest of the time asking him various questions about his career.  He was very open with us and did a great job of answering all of the questions the 4Hers had for him.  Even though he told the 4Hers it was not likely any of them would have the opportunity to join his staff in high school (as he had done), he did tell them that he took help from the local community college.  He also told them that there was always the opportunity to submit citizen photos of events (but this would need to be done promptly to be newsworthy)

It was a great experience for our group and we were very thankful for the opportunity.

We ended the meeting with the final discussion of photo-related careers.  I gave the group an assignment to choose one of the careers and try 'being' that person.  They should take a picture that would be taken in that career sometime in the next month.  I look forward to seeing the careers chosen and their related photos!

Here are some of the options they might choose:

Photographer's Assistant
You can start in this field by becoming a photographer's assistant or apprentice. An assistant may be asked to perform duties such as carrying, setting up and breaking down equipment, as well as proofing photos and submitting orders for processing.

If you crave excitement and do not mind deadlines, become a photojournalist. As a photojournalist, you may be employed by a newspaper, magazine or news agency to take photos of fires, accidents and other news and sporting events. Knowledge of digital photography is essential.

Freelance Photographer
If you want the freedom to determine your own work schedule, consider becoming a freelance photographer. You will have the potential to make more money, perhaps by selling your work through photo stock agencies or on a contract basis to news agencies.

Commercial Photography
Commercial photographers take pictures of various things, such as products, architecture and models for advertising and product development purposes. You will need additional equipment such as lighting and magnifying accessories.

Forensic Photographer
Forensic photographers obtain photographic evidence with highly specialized equipment such as ultraviolet and infrared photography and optical microscopes. They also use video equipment.

Still Photography Specialist
As a Still Photography Specialist, you will play an integral part in the Air Force communications strategy. After attending an intense 12-week training course on the intricacies of photography, you will begin your role in documenting Air Force activities. You will shoot everything from portraits to mission aerial shots. Your assignments will change often and can take you around the world, so you will face new challenges every day.

Photo Editor
Some newspapers and magazines hire photo editors who review photos for publication and make technical corrections such as adjustments in resolution, size, color and contrast using photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop.

Television, Video, and Motion Picture Camera Operators and Editors      
Workers acquire their skills through on-the-job or formal postsecondary training.  Operate television, video, or motion picture camera to photograph images or scenes for various purposes, such as TV broadcasts, advertising, video production, or motion pictures.

Photographic Process Workers and Processing Machine Operators          
A decline in employment is expected as digital photography becomes commonplace.  Most receive on-the-job training from their companies, manufacturers' representatives, and experienced workers.  Job opportunities will be best for individuals with experience using computers and digital technology.  Perform precision work involved in photographic processing, such as editing photographic negatives and prints, using photo-mechanical, chemical, or computerized methods.

Portrait Photographer
Portrait photography is a more specialized form that requires artistic flair. Most portrait photographers are largely self-employed so business skills are necessary to keep a studio running. There are no educational requirements to be called a professional photographer. The ability to take pictures that people are willing to buy is the key to success in this genre.

Industrial or Commercial Photography
Commercial or Industrial photographers work in different areas of media, such as books, catalogs or advertisements. Subjects vary from buildings to cars to landscapes. These images are usually captured on location so the ability to travel is a job requirement. Training and degree requirements vary as most positions are filled by freelancers in this occupation.

Studio Photography
Studio photographers, also known as portrait photographers, specialize in posed pictures of people. They often focus on specific types of events, such as weddings, parties or school photos. They work either in their studio or on location. Many studio photographers own their business and oversee sales and marketing, billing, hiring and supply purchases. Plus, they must be organized to keep up with scheduling and record keeping.

Commercial Photography
From buildings to couture dresses, commercial and industrial photographers take pictures of diverse subjects. Their work appears on the covers and pages of magazines and catalogs, and in corporate and consulting reports. Commercial photographers include engineering, architectural, advertising and fashion photographers. An engineering photographer, for example, captures photos of factory equipment for operating manuals. An advertising photographer clicks images of products for marketing and promotional campaigns. Architectural and landscape photographers take pictures of buildings and land, sometimes from the air in a plane or helicopter.

Other Fields
Photographers also work in a variety of lesser-known fields. Scientific photographers use microscopes to capture scientific or medical images. University photographers work for larger four-year colleges, taking portraits of students, professors, buildings or events for press releases and school publications. Fine art photographers sell their work to galleries, consumers, interior designers, community centers and other organizations. Among all photographers, fine art photographers have the most creative freedom, but because they sell work piece by piece, they need business management skills.

Fashion Photographer
Glamour Photographer
Wildlife Photographer

Throughout the time we were at the meeting, Henry took different perspective shots.  Here are some of  my favorites:

Where Does the Time Go?

I cannot believe I have missed posting several events over the last few days!

Here is the post I should have sent out two weeks ago about our WHEP meeting.  We met to talk about Black Bear and Northern Raccoon.

Black bear 

General information 
Black bears primarily use mature deciduous or mixed deciduous/coniferous forest interspersed with early successional openings containing soft mast. Young regenerating stands, shrub thickets with dense brushy cover, and riparian corridors are also used. They are generally secretive and avoid human contact; however, black bears are highly adaptable and may occur in and around human dwellings and be¬come problematic, especially if food is available. Black bears are primarily nocturnal, but may be seen anytime during the day. They hibernate in winter (even in warm climates like Florida and Louisiana) and have large home ranges (several square miles) that vary based on sex, age and/or time of year (breeding season, fall for¬aging areas, denning habitat). In general, adult male home ranges (up to 50 square miles) are much larger than female home ranges. Solitary females and females with cubs have consider¬ably smaller (15 square miles) home ranges. Black bears are omnivorous, however more than 90 percent of their diet consists of vegetative matter. Liberalizing or restricting females in the harvest influences population growth. Regulation of bear population densities is influenced by public tolerance toward bear/human conflicts, property damage, livestock and agricultural damage, and the desire to see bears.

Habitat requirements
Diet: spring food sources are typically scarce and consist of early developing plants such as skunk cabbage, squaw root, grasses and insects; occasionally, small to medium-sized mammals such as deer fawns and young livestock (calves and lambs) are preyed upon; during summer and early fall, a variety of soft mast such as blackberry, blueberry, serviceberry, black cherry and pokeweed are important; during late fall, acorns, beechnuts, hickory nuts and other hard mast, as well as field corn and soybeans, help bears prepare for hibernation; when natural foods are scarce, bears may wander near human residences and feed on bird seed, dog/cat food and other food scraps
Water: free-standing water is used for drinking; spring seeps and other shallow water sources are used to cool off and get away from biting insects; water is seldom a limiting factor since black bears have such a large home range
Cover: mature hardwood or mixed hardwood/conifer forests for foraging; brushy areas and young regenerating forest for loafing and escape; early successional openings primarily for foraging, usually for soft mast; rock crevices, excavations, hollow trees, dense mountain laurel/rhododendron thickets for hibernation

Wildlife management practices

  • Decrease Harvest: may be necessary when additional bears are desired and hunting pres¬sure may be limiting growth
  • Forest Management Techniques: forest regeneration, especially clear-cut and shelterwood methods, creates dense escape and loafing cover for bears; an abundance of soft mast (pokeweed, blackberry, huckleberry, blueberry) is usually available in recently regenerated stands; timber stand improvement practices can lead to increased hard mast production if quality trees are retained in the stand, and can stimulate groundcover, which usually increases soft mast production
  • Increase Harvest: where populations can sustain additional hunting pressure for recreation and/or where populations need to be lowered
  • Leave Grain Unharvested: strips of corn, grain sorghum/soybeans should be left standing, especially adjacent to escape cover, to provide food close to cover
  • Manage disturbance: Prescribed fire can stimulate groundcover and soft mast and maintain Stages 3 and 4 
  • Plant/Manage Food Plots: where available food may be limiting, forage and grain plots may be planted to provide additional nutrition
  • Plant Shrubs: crabapple, high-bush blueberry, hawthorn, wild plum and elderberry can be planted within forest openings where soft mast is lacking; this can also 
  • help maintain Stage 4
  • Plant Trees: apple, pear, cherry, persimmon and dogwood are suitable choices to provide additional soft mast
  • Tillage Management: eliminate tillage in the fall to provide additional waste grain during winter, especially when adjacent to Stages 4-6
  • Wildlife Damage Management Techniques: may be needed if bear-human conflicts occur in agricultural or urban settings

Northern raccoon

General information
Raccoons are very common throughout most of the U.S., except in certain parts of the Rocky Mountains, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. Raccoons are found in a variety of vegetation types but are usually most abundant near riparian areas and wetlands. They are also found in urban areas. Raccoons den in hollow trees, burrows under stumps or brushpiles, or in chimneys, at¬tics and crawl spaces of houses and buildings. They are omnivorous and eat a wide variety of foods. Raccoons can become pests in urban areas and in wetlands where waterfowl nesting is important. Raccoons have also been identified as major predators on game bird nests and young game birds. In such cases, wildlife damage management or increased harvest may be necessary.

Habitat requirements
Diet: crayfish, birds, eggs, small mammals, insects, lizards, snakes, worms, fish, carrion, grains, seeds, hard and soft mast and foods prepared for human and pet consumption
Water: require water frequently during warm seasons
Cover: riparian areas, bottomland hardwoods and along other wetlands; natural tree cavities are used for denning and daytime loafing; also dens in ground burrows under stumps, brush and junk piles, old abandoned buildings and rocky cliffs and ledges

Wildlife management practices

  • Decrease Harvest: if hunting pressure is limiting population growth where an increase is desired 
  • Establish Field Buffers: to increase usable space for prey around row crop fields
  • Forest Management Techniques: forest regeneration and timber stand improvement can stimulate soft mast production and cover for prey; relatively large snags with cavities should be retained when implementing for¬est management
  • Increase Harvest: where populations can sustain additional hunting or trapping pressure for recreation and/or where populations need to be lowered for various reasons
  • Leave Grain Unharvested: especially cornfields adjacent to bottomland hardwoods and riparian areas
  • Manage disturbance: prescribed fire is recommended to rejuvenate old decadent wetland vegetation; prescribed fire and disking can maintain Stages 2 and 3; prescribed fire, herbicide applications and chaining are recommended to revert Stage 4 and Stage 5 to Stages 2 and 3; grazing management should prevent livestock from degrading riparian areas and other wetlands; this may include development of livestock watering facilities in uplands to discourage congregation in and overuse of riparian areas
  • Plant/Manage Food Plots: annual grain food plots, especially corn 
  • Plant Shrubs: where soft mast is lacking and to provide corridors across large areas of Stages 2 and 3
  • Plant Trees: especially in riparian areas and adjacent to wetlands where few trees are present; maintain approximately 50 percent deciduous forest cover; maintain forested riparian corridors
  • Create Snags: relatively large dead trees with cavities can provide denning sites
  • Tillage Management: eliminate fall tillage of grain crop residue adjacent to cover to make waste grain available as an additional food source
  • Water Control Structures: to control water levels and provide water less than 2 feet deep and stimulate emergent vegetation and enhance habitat for prey
  • Water Developments for Wildlife: shallow impoundments can provide a water source and additional wetland habitat
  • Wildlife Damage Management: may be necessary if raccoons invade garbage cans, occupy residences or buildings, or prey upon poultry; exclusion is cost-effective; cultural modification such as using wildlife-proof trash cans is effective; trap and euthanize is most effective for problem raccoons

In between animals, we had a fun hands on activity to demonstrate the carrying capacity of Black bear in a habitat.  We then discussed a scenario related to a national park for these animals.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Youth Fair 2013

Spent the week at youth fair.  We took it slow this year and only spent one day at the fair because of other family commitments.

The day before (late into the night) the cookie show at the fair, our boys were busy in the kitchen.  Sean chose to showcase our own honey with Honey Cookies.  He actually tried several recipes before going back to his original recipe!  He stayed positive through the time and the cookies did not go to waste.  Even those that were not so good were crumbled into a new flour mix to make a coffee cake fro breakfast!  I hate to see a cookie (even a bad one) go to waste!

Edward chose a technically challenging recipe for his age.  As he told me, "This is not your drop and bake cookie recipe!"  He made Checkerboard Cookies, and he had to make two dough mixes and form strips that were put together with 'milk glue' to create the desired look.  There were several steps to his cookie and he had a lot of wait time in between steps.  He spent most of the day in the kitchen, but had a lot of fun.  However, I think he might go back to drop cookies next year!  LOL!

Edward did learn an important lesson in cookie baking (actually in cookie mixing).  He put the dry ingredients together and then added the wet ingredients.  He quickly learned this makes a crumbly mess!  However, little Brendan took advantage of the situation to make his own creation.  He was able to make a big sheet cookie with chocolate chips sprinkled over the top.  Bad part for Mom...he then thought he was showing cookies at the fair!  Oh...I spent most of the day trying to explain that he would not be old enough until NEXT year!!!  He thought I meant next time we went to the fair and was so upset when her forgot his cookie!  So cute and so ready to be BIG!  Proud of him for spending good time in the kitchen with his brothers!

Henry waited patiently throughout the day...watching his other brothers bake.  He waited until they were all in bed and came out to make his Wooden Spoon Cookies.  He wanted the cookies to be as fresh as possible and he needed the kitchen to be clear of everyone else so he could concentrate.  He had to bake a thin layer of cookie on a pan and then take them out and roll the cookie while it was still hot onto a wooden spoon.  He actually learned after several attempts to give the cookies about 30 seconds of cool time before rolling made a nicer cookie, but even with that cool time his fingers were burnt by the time he had his dozen cookies for show!  He persevered and got the cookies done at midnight!  Worn out he fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow!

While the boys were showing their cookies, I had the opportunity to sit with  some of the other 4H moms.  We talked about our commitment to the program and how much work was put in behind the scenes.  It is all worth it to see the 4Hers succeed.

I learned a lot about livestock.  I know it is a great program for the youth who are interested, but I am so glad our boys are NOT interested in this aspect of 4H.  It takes a lot of work and time, but most of all those large animals would scare me to death.  The stories told about training the bulls to 'behave' for thank you!  LOL!  Our children chose well...sticking with showing food and art is a much tamer prospect!

Henry also turned in a photo of a pumpkin patch he took last fall.  It was a good picture but was very grainy when it was blown up into an 8x10.  Maybe he can try a story board arrangement next year.

I wish I could have been there for all of our youth, but here are a few pictures from our time at the fair.

Congratulations to the following for their achievements at the Youth Fair!

Ana - Best of Show - drawing
Kevin - Best of SHow - picture
Edward - 3rd place - cookies
Henry - Red Ribbon - cookies, White Ribbon - Photo
Sean - Blue Ribbon -  cookies
James - 2nd place - photo
Brianna - Blue - yeast rolls, 3rd - scarf
Kaleigh - 2nd place - cookies (with our other 4H friend, Erin, who had Best of Show cookies!)

So proud of all our talented group of 4Hers!  They did a great job!  I look forward to adding the others who completed projects at the fair!  I am sure I am missing some of the other talented work from our youth!