Got Nature? Blog

FNR-557-W What a Waste of Food!Food waste is a major issue in developed countries. This unit is designed to teach students about food waste and ways they can help reduce it. This section contains one unit with three lesson plans that will teach students how to reduce food waste by learning more about proper food storage, best-by dates, and ugly foods. It also contains a stand-alone lesson on food packaging and composting.

To view this free complete unit see: What a Waste of Food! Lesson Plans and PowerPoint, The Education Store, Purdue Extension.

Resources:
Food Preservation Methods, Purdue Extension
Washing Fresh Vegetables to Enhance Food Safety, Purdue Extension
Food Waste Lesson Plans, Nature of Teaching

Rebecca L Busse, Graduate Research Assistant
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Rod N Williams, Engagement Faculty Fellow & Associate Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


NatureOfTeaching_FNR_Pub552Conservation biology is considered by some to be a “crisis discipline.” Decisions within the field must often be made quickly, sometimes without enough time to gather all of the data one would ideally have, and they can decide the fate of a species. This Nature of Teaching unit titled “the Scientific Process of Conservation Biology: Analyze, Design, Debate,” introduces students to the field of conservation biology and the process of conserving a species. It includes 4 lessons and 4 case studies as well as a teacher information section and list of sources.  Students will learn how to: analyze literature, graphs, and figures to discern factors threatening a species; identify different careers involved in conservation biology; learn how to edit, revise an original management plan to better comprehend the iterative process of science; and much more.

To view this free complete unit see: The Scientific Process of Conservation Biology: Analyze, Design, Debate, The Education Store, Purdue Extension.

Resources:
Health & Wellness Lesson Plans, Nature of Teaching
Wildlife Lesson Plans, Nature of Teaching
Food Waste Lesson Plans, Nature of Teaching

Briana Widner, student
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Rod N Williams, Engagement Faculty Fellow & Associate Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

 


Trees offer many functional and aesthetic benefits, but one of the most common is shade. Because of this, one of the most important aspects of tree selection and planting is placement. Improper placement of trees can diminish the value of the tree on the site. The tree can actually become a liability if it conflicts with infrastructure or just does not providing any useful function at all. It’s important to consider and energy efficient design to obtain shade where it’s needed most such as south or west facing structures.Tree Shade

In this hemisphere, the sun is in the south and the source of cold weather is in the north. Whenever possible, place openings for sunlight and radiant heat primarily on the southern exposure, then on the west and east. For energy efficiency in winter, use the low arc of the sun to capture the maximum amount of warmth through east-, west-, and south-facing windows. Windows with a northern exposure are a source of cool air from prevailing winds during the hot months. So, give the north minimum exposure and maximum natural protection in the winter.

When selecting trees for energy efficiency, don’t plant evergreen trees near the house on southern exposures. Trees may provide some shade and screening but will also block out the warming effects of the sun during winter months. When choosing trees for shade and solar gain, choose larger, deciduous-canopy trees, which provide an advantage year-round. This means shade in the summer, blocking the sun’s energy. In the winter, after leaves have dropped, the sun’s energy can pass through the tree and into the window.

Tree Shade

Figure 1. Protection from the summer sun.

Select good quality trees from a reputable source that are suitable for your location. The old adage, “you get what you pay for” goes for nursery stock as well.  Correct placement is critical for an energy-efficient design and reduced maintenance as the tree grows and matures. Be certain the mature height and spread fit the location before purchase and planting the tree. This allows the tree freedom to spread into the design space naturally without excessive pruning needed to prevent conflicts with the home. However, the tree still must be close enough to the house for the canopy to provide shade. A good rule of thumb to begin placing the tree at least 20 feet from the house. For larger shade trees, you may need to plant as far as 40 feet from the house to insure room for growth (Figure 1).

Trees provide many benefits besides shade whichincludes cleaner air and increased property values. These ecosystem services are the reason why we plant trees, besides beautifying our landscape.

The functional benefits of shading help make homes energy-efficient by creating a cooling effect during the hot summer months and by allowing passive solar gain during cold winter months. However, proper selection and placement is critical to make the tree work for your site.  Choose wisely, plant properly.

Full article from Purdue Landscape Report.

Resources:
Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, The Education Store – Purdue Extension resource center
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree (Youtube video),  Purdue Extension-FNR
Tree Installation: Process and Practices , The Education Store
Tree Planting Part 2: Planting a Tree (Youtube video), Purdue Extension-FNR
Top 5 List for Tree Selection and Planting, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on June 11th, 2018 in Alert, Got Nature for Kids, How To, Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »

If you care about wild animals, let them be wild. Most young wild animals you encounter are not orphaned. What may seem like an abandoned animal is normal behavior for most wildlife, to avoid predators. Picking up a wild animal you think is orphaned or abandoned is unnecessary and can be harmful to the animal or you.

DeerIf you find a wild animal that is truly abandoned, sick or injured, here is what you can do:

  • Leave it alone, in its natural environment. Don’t turn wildlife into pets.
  • Call a licensed wild animal rehabilitator who is trained in caring for wild animals.
  • If the animal is sick or severely injured, call a licensed veterinarian.

Resources:
Mammals of Indiana, J.O. Whitker and R.E. Mumford
Common Indiana Mammals, The Nature of Teaching, The Education Store-Purdue Extension’s resource center
Orphaned and Injured Animals, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)

MyDNR Indiana’s Outdoor News, Indiana Department of Natural Resources


Posted on June 1st, 2018 in Gardening, How To, Plants | No Comments »

Choosing fruits and vegetables at the store is fast and easy but the task of fruit and vegetable selection can also be rewarding and a learning experience. There are a number of pick-your-own farms here in Indiana that allow you the freedom of choosing from a vast selection of produce freshly-picked from or still on the tree, vine, or bush. Several of these farms also boast gift shops where freshly-made pies and cakes can be purchased. Others offer a host of additional bonuses like tours, hayrides, and picnic areas. On those days when you want to commune with nature and “live” off of the land. Visit an IN farm and pick-your-own.

There are dozens of farms listed (http://www.pickyourown.org/IN.htm) on this site but more may exist. Do some internet searching to discover the location that best suits your needs and hopefully you will enjoy a number of meals fresh from the farm this year.

This harvest calendar will help inform you about produce likely to be available at a certain time.

Harvest Calendar

Please note that dates for Spring, Summer, and Fall may be flexible as seasons are typically based on the astronomical calendar, where rigid dates are assigned to the seasons (i.e. March 20th, 2018 = Spring in Indiana) based on the position of the Earth in relation to the sun, as opposed to the meteorological calendar, where actual weather conditions dictate crop growth. The easiest way to be assured that the produce you want to pick will be in season is to call the farm before your visit and use the calendar below as a general guide.

References:
2018 Seasons Calendar
Pick-Your-Own Farms in Indiana
Indiana Harvest Calendar

Other resources:
Fruit and Vegetable Care (place keyword in the search field ), The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Purdue Landscape Report, Purdue University
Tree Doctor, The Education Store
Calendar with Upcoming Workshops, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on April 24th, 2018 in How To, Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »
ACCESS PROGRAM PROVIDING LAND EASEMENTS (APPLE)

Source: http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/9572.htm

The DNR is seeking private landowners to allow limited public gamebird hunting opportunities on their properties in exchange for financial incentives and technical assistance through a program called APPLE.

APPLE stands for Access Program Providing Land Easements. In its second year, APPLE provides hunters with an opportunity to hunt ring-necked pheasant, bobwhite quail, and American woodcock, while also providing landowners with significant benefits.

With nearly 96 percent of Indiana privately owned, public gamebird hunting opportunities are limited.

Participating landowners are eligible for incentives of up to $25 per acre. Additional financial assistance is also available for creating or improving habitat.

DNR biologists will work closely with each landowner to develop a wildlife habitat management plan. Biologists will also help landowners plan the number and timing of hunts on their land.

The DNR is targeting landowners of 20 acres or more within five focal regions across the state. For more information, including a description of the five focal regions, visit wildlife.IN.gov/9572.htm.

Hunters will be selected for the program using Indiana’s online reserved hunt draw system.

Landowners can continue to hunt all other species on their land during the duration of the APPLE hunts, and may hunt gamebirds after the APPLE hunts.

Resources:
Indiana DNR
Field Season Upon Us! Be Prepared, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR

Jason Wade, North Region Landscape Biologist
DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife
260-468-2515,  jwade@dnr.IN.gov

Erin Basiger, South Landscape Biologist
DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife
812-822-3302, ebasiger@dnr.IN.gov


Prescribed fire is a great tool to improve the food and cover for a variety of wildlife species on your property. One of the most important aspects of using prescribed fire is making sure the fire is conducted safely. This point cannot be overstated, safe use of prescribed fire is paramount. Beyond taking the appropriate training courses or seeking help from a professional, one the most important aspects of safely conducting a prescribed fire is ensuring you have adequate firebreaks.

Firebreaks can serve multiple purposes related to the safe use of prescribed fire, and can provide additional food and cover for wildlife. The main purpose of firebreaks is to stop the fire from escaping the burn unit, but they also can provide quick and easy movement around the burn unit, help reduce the amount of people required for the burn, and can make igniting the fire safer. Here are a few examples of different types of firebreaks.

Logging Road

This logging road is a good example of an exisitng road that can be used as a firebreak.

Existing roads
Existing roads, whether they are paved, gravel, dirt, or logging roads, can serve as outstanding firebreaks, plus they require very little work to prepare prior to a burn. These are also one of the cheapest options for firebreaks. If you are using gravel, dirt, or logging roads as firebreaks, you need to make sure there is not excessive vegetation or leaf litter in the road. Too much vegetation
on the firebreak could lead to an escape.

Streams, creeks, or other bodies of water
Another cheap and easy option for firebreaks is to use existing streams, river, or bodies of water. If you are using water features as a firebreak, here are some things to consider: is the stream or river wide enough to stop the fire from escaping and can people helping with the fire move easily around, across, or through the stream or river to access various part of the burn unit or to stop an escaped fire?

Crop fields
Crop fields with cool-season grains (wheat, oats, rye) or cover crops can serve as a great firebreak. Crop fields with only soybean or corn stubble should be used with caution, as fire may creep through a field with excessive stubble. For fields with crop stubble, planting the edge of the field in a cool-season crop (wheat, clover, oats, etc.), disking the edge of the field, or wetting the crop stubble are all steps that can used to improve the field as a firebreak

Leaf-Blown Firebreak

This leaf-blown firebreak was only 3-4 feet wide, but it easily stopped the fire in this situation.

Leaf-blown firebreaks
If you are burning in the woods, using a leaf blower to remove leaf litter and expose bare mineral soil is a quick and easy way to create a firebreak. These firebreaks do not need to be as wide as those in an old field or native grass stand because the flame length when burning in the woods is typically much shorter than burning in a field.

Disked firebreaks for multiple purposes
Disking or tilling to expose bare mineral soil is an extremely effective method of creating a firebreak. These breaks can also provide food and/or cover for various wildlife species if managed correctly. Disking the firebreak and then letting the firebreak remain fallow during the growing season creates outstanding cover for brooding turkeys, pheasants, and quail.

You can also plant the firebreaks after disking to create a food plot for various wildlife species. If you disk the firebreaks in the fall and plan to burn in the spring, you can plant the firebreaks with a mix of wheat and crimson clover or a mix of perennial clovers to create a great food plot for deer and turkey. You can also plant the firebreaks with millet, grain sorghum, or sunflowers after you have burned the field in the spring.

Fire creeping

If you use mowed firebreaks you run the risk of fire creeping across the firebreak and escaping, especially if there is too much thatch in the firebreak.

My absolute favorite multiple purpose firebreak is one that is disked in Aug-Sep, planted to winter wheat (40-60 lbs/ac), and then left to remain fallow after the wheat has produced seed. This firebreak effectively stops fire, provide green browse from the fall through the spring, provides seed during the early summer, and provides excellent brood cover throughout the summer and early fall. This is truly an all-in-one firebreak.

Mowed grass firebreak
Mowed grass firebreaks are not ideal, but they can be used in certain situations. If mowed firebreaks are used, you must be sure that there is not excessive thatch built up in the break. Too much thatch will allow the fire to creep across the break and potentially escape. Even on firebreaks without excessive thatch, using water to create a “wet” firebreak is recommended.

No matter which type of firebreak you choose to use, taking the time to make sure the firebreak is adequately installed and is sufficient to stop the fire from escaping will help make the burn safer and will create less headaches for you when conducting the burn.

Additional Resources:
Firebreaks for Prescribed Burning, Oklahoma State University Extension
Prescribed fire: 6 things to consider before you ignite, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR,
On-line Basic Prescribed Fire Training, Extension, USDA and NIFA
Publications Focus on Plan, Safety of Prescribed Burns, Iowa State Extension,
eFIRE, North Carolina State Extension
Renovating native warm-season grass stands for wildlife: A Land Manager’s Guide, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Calibrating a No-Till Drill for Conservation Plantings and Wildlife Food Plots, The Education Store

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Planting at the proper seeding rate is an important step to ensure a successful native warm-season grass and forb planting or a wildlife food plot. This video will discuss how to properly calibrate the seeding rate for a Truax No-Till Seed Drill. The video will also discuss a calibration method that can be used with multiple different types of seed drills.

Check out these detailed resources that are referenced in the video:
Seed Fillers and Carriers for Planting Native Warm-Season Grasses and Forbs
Pure Live Seed: Calculations and Considerations for Wildlife Food Plots

Resources:
Renovating Native Warm-Season Grass Stands for Wildlife: A Land Manager’s Guide, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Food Plots, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Food Plots for White-Tailed Deer, The Education Store

Jarred Brooke, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on March 21st, 2018 in Forestry, How To, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

Handling Harvested Game, FNR-555-WV, videoIn this new video series Handling Harvested Game: Field Dressing, wildlife biologist Bob Cordes with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife shows how to properly treat and handle deer in order to receive the best results for your venison. This video shares step by step safe handling techniques to reach your goals in providing a wholesome  source of meat for you and your family.

More resources:
Handling Harvested Game – Episode 2, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Playlist
How to Score Your White-tailed Deer, video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Age Determination in White-tailed Deer, video, The Education Store,
How to Build a Plastic Mesh Deer Exclusion Fence, The Education Store,
Bovine Tuberculosis in Wild White-tailed Deer, The Education Store,
Indiana Deer Hunting, Biology and Management, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)

Rod Williams, Associate Professor of Wildlife Science/Engagement Faculty Fellow
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


FNR-226-WSuccessfully starting a tree plantation involves several steps, ideally starting with preparation a year or more before the seedlings are planted. This updated publication with current resources titled Resources and Assistance Available for Planting Hardwood Seedlings, landowners can find valuable information about planting trees for conservation, such as resources, contact information, tools, professional advice and assistance and financial incentives.

Resources:
Ordering Seedlings from the State Forest Nursery System, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR
Instructions for Ordering Tree Seedlings – Indiana DNR Division of Forestry
Importance of Hardwood Tree Planting – The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Forest Improvement Handbook – The Education Store
Designing Hardwood Tree Plantings for Wildlife – The Education Store

Lenny D Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


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