We learned many things today with Ranger Kate and Ranger Lisa. One of those things was the specialty of Phenology. Phenology is the study of periodic events in biological life cycles and how these events are influenced by seasonal and annual variations in climate. They are especially interested in this study because of the implications of Climate Change at Acadia. For example: the extreme dry weather this year caused the leaves to drop a few weeks early. This act impacted the birds looking for nesting places before they flew south. Everything is connected. John Muir once said, " “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
We learned about the "warbler"- these small colorful birds (and the favorite of Ranger Lisa) love Acadia because of the diverse forests and wetlands. They especially love the many insects they can find. If you listen closely during our virtual field trip, you may hear a few pips and cheeps. We also talked about the white-tailed deer who escape their predators by hiding, running quickly, and moving quietly. Not too quickly though, as we saw several on our drive today. We heard about the tide pools where you can catch a rock, spider, or green crab. You can also find periwinkles, mussels, and sea slugs. We had a unique opportunity to see the peregrine falcon. That was pretty lucky as they can dive as fast as 200 miles per hour as they kill their prey and have a midday snack.
All in all- we learned that many people loved this area so much that they donated the land and fought hard for its protection. They were determined that everyone should see this beautiful place so they worked until it became Acadia National Park in 1929. We hope that you all have an opportunity to visit here in the near future. There are many exciting things awaiting you!
"The rocky ledge runs far into the sea,
And on its outer point, some miles away,
The Lighthouse lifts its massive masonry,
A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day.
Even at this distance I can see the tides,
Upheaving, break unheard along its base,
A speechless wrath, that rises and subsides
In the white lip and tremor of the face..."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was said to have penned this famous poem after spending many nights at the Portland Head Light with the keeper. The light station sits on the primary shipping channel into Portland Harbor. It was finished in 1791 and is the oldest lighthouse in the state of Maine. The station still looks the same except for the rebuilding of the whistle house in 1975 which was badly damaged during a storm. The Portland Head Light is 80 feet above the ground and 101 feet above the water. We definitely can see why it was an inspiration for Longfellow and many others.
On Thursday we spent the day with Jennifer Epstein, an educational National Parks Ranger at the National Mall. Jen has been a ranger there since the late 1990s. She is a true historian. She knows so much about the memorials and monuments and she has beautiful, personal stories to tell. One of those stories was told yesterday.
FDR: As you may know, it takes a while for monuments to be built- from conception to completion. There are a lot of politics involved in this process. The 7 1/2 acres of the FDR memorial was not without conflict. There are 4 rooms that make up the FDR memorial- one for each term he served. When it came to the idea for one of his statues- there was some controversy. Would they create the statue of him standing or sitting in a wheelchair? During his presidential residency he made it very clear that he did not want photos taken of him in the wheelchair. It was reported that he thought that would show weakness. So when it came time for the statute to be built- his wishes were brought up again. Many folks voiced their opinions; including the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). It was suggested that the inclusion of the wheelchair would inspire those with mobility challenges. In the end, the statue was created with the wheelchair.
On the day of the dedication, Jen was asked to be the greeter. A young lady got out of her car and asked Jen if her hair looked okay. (Jen says that since she wears a hat all day, her opinion probably wasn't valid but she politely said- you look great) The lady was thrilled and told Jen that she was meeting Al Gore that day because she was his invited guest. Her son was in a wheelchair and she was so happy that they chose to use the wheelchair in the statue. It helped her son SEE those who looked like him. It was a great story and added much to the FDR tour.
MLK: I guess one of the most amazing things about the MLK Memorial is that his legs are not featured in the statue. For a man who spent much of his time walking- you would think we would see his legs. The idea of the missing legs is that his work was not finished. He was only 39 when he died and it's up to us to continue his work. How profound! He was also the first to receive a memorial on the National Mall that was not a president or military statue.
LINCOLN: This memorial is majestic in beauty and scale. When it was being built, the sculptor was working on much of the design at his home in Massachusetts. His first statue was only about 10 feet tall when they brought it to DC. Considering the scale of the memorial, he had to scrap that plan and start again. It ended up being almost twice that tall at 19 feet. Another interesting story about the Lincoln Memorial is that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on those very steps to speak some of the same words that Abraham Lincoln shared in the Gettysburg Address.
Our Virtual Field Trips will talk about the accomplishments of each man and encourage each of you to be inspired to do good!
Well we are on our way! Left out this morning at 9:00 am from North Carolina. Our itinerary is mapped out but we have room for some fun surprises too. Our goal for this trip is to visit some new parks, meet up with rangers at parks that we have previously visited, and add some new adventures for Marvin and Hank. We are most excited for our two newest additions; Cape Cod National Seashore and Delaware First. Our hope is to add a new blog post on each day that we film but if we have some cool things to share, we will add more. For now- our Honda Pilot is packed in serious JENGA style and we are on our way. We are pleased to have Steve's parents on this trip with us. See you in DC!
We are excited to introduce you to Marvin the Moose and Hucklebeary Bear! They will be joining our "Expeditions In Education" Team in just a few weeks. They are onboarding right now but will be up to speed with all things relating to the National Parks Expedition Challenge soon. We will tell you a little about each of them and how they will be supporting the non-profit.
Marvin the Moose comes to us from right outside Bozeman, Montana. He was born inside of Yellowstone National Park but his parents moved to Bozeman for the good food and music. He is one of 3 brothers and loves to eat twigs, bark, roots and the shoots of woody plants. He just finished up his internship at "Moose R Us" and is ready to join the team. His experience in the wild will help him as he tells the stories of the National Parks. We know that Moose are solitary animals and move independently but he has agreed to widen his horizons and work with us. He will tell you that although he has been domesticated and is very friendly, that is not true of other Moose. Leave them alone when you see them. Enjoy them from a distance because the males have wide antlers that can measure up to 2 meters in width, from tip to tip. Welcome Marvin!!
HuckleBeary Bear comes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. His mother and father were killed a year ago and Hucklebeary has no other family to take care of him. He is about 5 feet long from nose to tail. He likes to eat herbs, grasses, honey, nuts, fruit, berries and seeds. He also eats fish, small mammals, insects, dead animals and garbage. Huck (as he likes to be called) comes from a long line of nappers. He likes to take several naps a day. He is considered to be a highly efficient hibernator. He can sleep for months without eating, drinking, or pooping. We think he will make a great addition to our team also.
Their job will be to tell stories as they see them happening in the parks. We are thrilled that they are willing to join us. They will start out writing for our blog but if everything works out with their managers, we hope to have a book in the works, soon. We all have a lot of learning to do as we become friends. Stay tuned for The Adventures of Marvin and Huck.
It's Fall Ya'll! Taking a nice walk in the evening with the cool crisp air is one of my favorite things to do. I love seeing the beautiful color on the trees and the nature that has fallen on the ground. Recently my friend, Laura, from Alaska shared a post about creating Acorn People and it intrigued me. What if we used those acorns to tell stories? So this weekend, I am collecting as many acorns, caps, pinecones, and sticks as I can find to create my own National Park Stories. I will use these natural resources to design little vignettes for each National Park. I will photograph it and then share it with students so they can write stories about it.
You can do this too! Think about having your students collect the resources and create their family. They can choose their favorite scene from a book and retell the story with acorns. They can recreate events from history using what they find on the ground. How about reimagining Fairy Tales with acorn people?
Share your designs on Social Media @dacia92 and #ExpeditionsInEducation
We all need a little good news because things have been quite nutty lately.
Well- I have to go....nature is calling. (Wait! Not exactly what I meant!)
I have always wanted to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial. I knew that it would be sad but I wanted to pay my respects to the place where 40 heroes gave their life to save thousands. I also knew that we wanted this to be part of our National Parks Expedition Challenge. We didn't plan on this experience being so poignant. Ranger Gregory compassionately told the story of those heroes and shared that we all need to do better. We have to live our lives as though there is no tomorrow and do everything we can to help others. We hope that you take time to watch the interview. We did not include a typical STEM Challenge for this National Park but we do encourage you to love others. (Video can be found on National Parks Expedition Challenge Tab)
Shenandoah was Virginia’s first national park and was dedicated on July 3, 1936. We rode up and down Skyline Drive to admire the amazing beauty of Shenandoah National Park. We saw panoramic views from overlooks scattered all over the drive which stretches for 105 miles. Beyond Skyline Drive you can find another Shenandoah, where bears roam the hollows and brook trout play in the streams. We saw beautiful wildflowers and saw quartz and other rocks which lined the forests.
Ranger Elsie shared that you can find many things to do while in Shenandoah. Biking, hiking, swimming, fishing, birdwatching, camping, picnicking, and more. We were on a mission to find the elusive Shenandoah Salamander which lives in the higher elevations of Shenandoah NP. This salamander is endangered because the red back salamander are encroaching in on its territory. You see, the Shenandoah Salamander are endemic to the park and are being run out. We are asking our students for help. What can you propose to help with this problem? How can we continue the lifespan of the endemic Shenandoah Salamanders? Share your ideas on Social Media and tag #natparkchallenge @dacia92 @npseducation The park rangers need your help!
Traveling along, Dacia & Steve
The John Slyder farm is located on the western side of Big Round Top. John had moved from Maryland and bought the 75 acre farm in 1849. By the 1860’s it included a two story stone house, barn, blacksmith and carpenter shops, an orchard of peach and pear trees, thirty acres of timber and eighteen acres of meadow. This family, which included John, Katherine, and 5 children (two were grown and had moved away) were busy farming the land, doing chores, and being a family. On July 2, 1863 their world was turned upside down as the Battle of Gettysburg descended upon them. The crops and orchards were trampled and destroyed and the farm buildings became a Confederate field hospital, with the family’s possessions looted or spoiled. Two months later, they sold the farm and moved to Ohio.
Decisions: What would you have done? Would you have taken your family and moved when you found out that the war was moving close to you? What about when you came back after the battle? Would you have started over after seeing the devastation to your farm? They had built their lives there and now had to make decisions on what to do next. Everything that they had, they worked for themselves.
STEM Challenge: What did you eat for dinner this week? Think about where this food came from. Your STEM Challenge is to design a farm that would allow you to have those same foods every night. For example: If you had ice-cream and hamburgers, you would need to design a farm that would raise cattle for the milk and the meat. How would you get the sugar? Would you need to raise sugar cane? Would you grow something else and barter for it? What about the bread? What crop would you raise to make that bread? How many acres would you need? What types of buildings would be on the farm? You can use an online sketching software to draw out your plans or use paper/pencil. Remember- everything that you ate for dinner must be accounted for when you design your farm.
Reflection: Be thankful for what you have. Work hard for what you need. Help those who have nothing.
Our National Parks Expedition Challenge video will be up soon! I hope you enjoy the stories that are told at the Slyder Farm.
Traveling Along, Dacia & Steve
The Eisenhower National Historic Site is the home and farm of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It is located adjacent to the Gettysburg Battlefield. The President was very fond of family, friends, and farming. Although the house and barns were closed while we were there, we read that the farm had been renovated in the early 1950s and served as a weekend getaway for the President and a meeting place for world leaders. The Eisenhowers retired to the farm in 1961 and gifted the property to the federal government in 1967. The farm was designated as a National Historic Site in 1969.
While on the farm, President Eisenhower spent much time working the land and raising cattle. He once said, "I will leave the place better than I found it". Using a system of crop rotation and contour plowing, he slowly improved the productivity of the land. To prevent soil erosion and water run-off, fields were plowed perpendicular to the slope of the land. Soil materials were carefully monitored and crops were were rotated to rejuvenate the soil. Your STEM Challenge is to find an area of land around your home or in your community that you could turn into a flower or vegetable garden. Research the soil and climate, and decide what type of plants would grow best in that area. Create your garden and share what you plant with those who may need it the most. Share your garden on Social Media at #NatParkChallenge @dacia92, and #ExpeditionsInEducation
Traveling Along, Dacia & Steve