Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spreading the Seed

Everyone I meet soon learns of My Farm Dream. Through numerous dialogs I have gained knowledge, insight, and connection. Many have recommended different places to explore. By coming to Eagle Bluff I have begun my pilgrimage. Each new place I learn about is a new opportunity to build upon and shape the dream. Here are some of the places I have heard about. Feel free to add to the list through comments:

Green Chimneys A teacher from Hastings Middle School who specializes is special needs and recreational therapy directed me to Green Chimneys. I have learned that many organizations that have succeeded with the farm school model focus primarily on students with "emotional, behavioral, social and learning challenges." Everyone needs this kind of education to grow strong roots in their community and their lives. Brewster, NY

Frost Valley Frost Valley (FV) stands out in the environmental education field as a powerhouse. Operated by the YMCA, FV is Eagle Bluff on steriods. While we employ about 25 staff, they have hundreds. Not only does FV run all the same programs as Eagle Bluff, it also has a farm school and countless other ed. courses for people of all ages. Two of my co-workers have friends working there, though I am sure I would have learned of it soon enough. It is high on my pilgrimage "must-sees". Claryville, NY

Journey's End One of my beautiful spirited friends here is Sarina. She is a joy. Each summer Sarina has ventured to Pennslyvania to work at Journey's End, or as she lovingly refers to it; "farm camp". With "cows, calves, pigs, chickens, goats, rabbits, [and] donkeys" students experience all of nature with "room to play and explore the creeks, woods, hayfield, [and] fern patch."
Sterling, PA

Pond Hill Farm I volunteered at Pond Hill for a couple of days this summer when I wasn't in the bike shop. Pond Hill is a wonderful place to take young-ones to get a taste of farm life for a day. It has a plethora of activities to view and do right when visitors arrive, from the squash launcher to petting the pigs to feeding the chickens. Pond Hill is unique to this list because it is a private entity owned and run by Farmer Jimmy and his family. Harbor Springs, MI

Dodge Nature Center One of the first school groups at Eagle Bluff strongly encouraged me to visit Dodge. At MNA this past weekend not only did I meet some of its employees, but they offered up their parking lot as a place for my car while I fly home for Thanksgiving. I intend to visit them on Monday morning, learn the ropes, get a ride to the airport, and take a cab back to my car on Saturday. Naturalists make really great friends. West St. Paul, MN

All my best,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

MNA Adventure

First snow followed by my first Naturalist's conference and more snow. I had a fantastic experience meeting new stewards of the environment from all across Minnesota. I was especially excited to meet people from Dodge Nature Center (an educational farm in the Twin Cities) and Wolf Ridge ELC (Eagle Bluff's "father").

My favorite session taught about hydromorphology, the study of how rivers move and change. We have impacted the way water travels extensively causing many rivers to be unstable. Some signs of a healthy, stable river are lots of riparian vegetation along its banks to prevent erosion, an accessible floodplain, and pools for fish to live (see image below).
Signs of an unstable river are heavy erosion, limited floodplain (water has no place to flood, causing further erosion), and limited riparian vegetation (see images below). To build roads, develop farm land, and construct our communities we have straightened and leveled our waterways causing habitat loss. What I love so much about Central New York is that we still have winding rivers and creeks to play in and explore.
 Check out for an awesome tutorial.