Got Nature? Blog

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Have you taken an Indiana Master Naturalist course and want to learn more about engaging youth with nature? The Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Purdue Extension are partnering to offer seven separate trainings this summer to gain experience and the necessary tools to host their own Nature of Teaching Workshops to better engage youth with nature. This will include sessions on health and wellness, food waste, and wildlife engagement
Cost: $10 (take-home kit included)

Contact: Laurynn Thieme at

Sessions (Each workshop will be held from 1-5 PM):
Friday, May 21 Purdue ExtensionLake County 2293 North Main Street Crown Point, IN 46307
Saturday, May 22 Environmental Resources Center- PFW 2101 E Coliseum Blvd. Fort Wayne, IN 46805
Tuesday, June 1 Purdue ExtensionHarrison County 247 Atwood Street Corydon, IN 47112
Wednesday, June 30 John S. Wright Forestry Center 1007 N 725 W, West Lafayette, IN 47906
Sunday, July 11 Munsee Woods 5701 S 475 E Selma, IN 47383
Friday, July 30 Karst Farm Park 2450 South Endwright Road Bloomington, IN 47403
Saturday, July 31 Mesker Park Zoo 1545 Mesker Park Drive Evansville, IN 47720

For more information, please view the The Nature of Teaching & Indiana Master Naturalist Training Flyer (pdf).

Purdue Nature of Teaching
Purdue Nature of Teaching YouTube channel
Transporting Food Waste, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Resourceful Animal Relationships, The Education Store
Benefits of Connecting with Nature, The Education Store

Laurynn Thieme, Extension Educator & Nature of Teaching Program Coordinator
Purdue Extension – Delaware County

Rod Williams, Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

In this edition of ID That Tree, Purdue extension forester Lenny Farlee explains how to identify shellbark hickory without the help from its leaves. He also shares about how to distinguish this native Indiana species from its close cousin, the shagbark hickory.

If you have any questions regarding wildlife, trees, forest management, wood products, natural resource planning or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Hickory and Pecan Species, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Shellbark Hickory, Native Trees of Indiana River Walk, Purdue Fort Wayne
Shagbark Hickory, The Purdue Arboretum Explorer
FNR- Hardwood Shagbark Hickory, The Purdue Arboretum Explorer
ID That Tree Fall Color Edition: Shagbark Hickory, Video, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
ID That Tree, Playlist, Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube Channel
A Woodland Management Moment, Playlist, Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube Channel
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store

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

Most of us have probably heard or seen a lot about pollinators in the media recently. The reason why is that pollinators are really, really important. We simply can’t live without them. Researchers estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat is made possible by pollinators. More than 100 food crops in the U.S. depend on pollinators, including almost all fruit and grain crops.

There are many different types of pollinators including native bees, butterflies and moths, beetles, flies, wasps, and of course hummingbirds. But perhaps one of the more interesting pollinators is the Monarch. Millions of Monarchs congregate in a relative small area in Mexico each winter. In March they start their journey north which has occurred over several generations. Unfortunately, the number of Monarchs counted in overwintering colonies has declined over the past 25 years.

Monarch butterfly

In response, many states including Indiana have developed a state Monarch Conservation Plan. With input from many stakeholders over several years, the Indiana Monarch Conservation Plan was released in December 2020. One goal of the plan was to create an online resource that would act as a clearinghouse for Indiana monarch and pollinator conservation data, research, best management practices (BMPs), and events. I invite you to visit the Indiana Monarch and Pollinator Conservation Hub at

You might be asking yourself, ‘Why is a wildlife specialist writing about pollinators?’ It turns out that quality habitat for wildlife is often quality habitat for pollinators. The diversity of wildflowers and structure that native grasslands, trees and shrubs benefit them all. Trees such as eastern redbud and Ohio buckeye provide early nectar sources. Native grasslands that have a diverse mixture of wildflowers provide food, bare ground, and structure desirable for a wide variety of pollinators.

Protecting Pollinators: Why Should We Care About Pollinators?, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Ask The Expert: What’s Buzzing or Not Buzzing About Pollinators , Purdue Extension – Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
Purdue Pollinator Protection publication series, Purdue Extension Entomology
Indiana Monarch & Pollinator Conservation Hub, Indiana Wildlife Federation
Monarch Watch, University of Kansas
100 Plants to Feed the Monarch/Other Resources Available, Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation

Brian MacGowan, Wildlife Extension Specialist & Extension Coordinator
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Posted on May 6th, 2021 in How To, Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »

blackVultureBannerPurdue Forestry and Natural Resources News & Stories: Vultures have a role to play as nature’s garbagemen, cleaning up animal carcasses, but what happens when a species goes from scavenging to harassing and even preying on livestock?

Pat Zollner, professor of wildlife science, along with PhD student Marian Wahl and their partners with the USDA Wildlife Services program are investigating black vultures in Indiana in order to better understand vulture ecology as well as to develop methods to mitigate future harm to Indiana livestock.

“Black vultures are relatively new to Indiana, they have been gradually moving in from the south, and right now there are a lot of unknowns that we need to figure out in order to make sound management decisions,” Wahl said. “Some of the pressing questions that we have are how many black vultures do we have here in Indiana, where are the birds located, how and where is conflict occurring, and how effective are different approaches to managing black vulture problems.

The aim of the research is two-fold. First, they are looking to see what causes some black vultures to become aggressive predators of livestock, instead of simply scavengers. Second, they are looking to learn signs that can determine whether an animal has been killed by vultures or simply scavenged, an important piece of evidence for livestock producers filing claims to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s indemnity program hoping to recover compensation for their losses.

In order to achieve its goals, the research team is requesting the assistance of livestock producers through an online survey and also with the donation of calves believed to have been killed by black vultures. The qualtrics online survey is available now and will take only 15-20 minutes to complete. The survey is anonymous and data collected with be presented only in summary form and not via individual responses.

For full article >>>

Qualtrics Online Survey
Contact Purdue FNR With Any Livestock Loss Due to Vultures
Black Vulture Research, Perry County News & March Edition of Beef Monthly
Black Vulture Ecology and Human-Wildlife Conflicts
Livestock, Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center

Pat Zollner, Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources

Marion Wahl, Graduate Research Assistant
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources

Posted on May 2nd, 2021 in How To, Wildlife | No Comments »

DeerMyDNR Newsletter, Indiana Department of Forestry and Natural Resources (IDNR): As Hoosiers venture outdoors to enjoy the warm weather, people will encounter more wildlife. This also increases the likelihood you will come across a wild animal that may need help. If an animal shows any of the following signs and can’t effectively move or run away, it may be time to call a permitted wildlife rehabilitator:

• Bleeding or clear signs of injuries such as bruises, cuts, punctures, or broken bones
• Looks thin, weak, cold or soaking wet
• Signs of diarrhea
• Flies, fly eggs, maggots, ticks, lice, or fleas have infested the animal

Please note that the Indiana DNR does not provide services for injured or orphaned wildlife. DNR relies on permitted wildlife rehabilitators to assist with these situations.

Orphaned & Injured Animals, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IN DNR)
Permitted Wildlife Rehabilitator List, IDNR
Injured Wildlife and What to Do, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Wild Animals Are Greeting New Arrivals Across the State, MyDNR, Got Nature? Blog
Help Us Keep Wildlife Wild, Got Nature? Blog
Wildlife, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel

Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)

Purdue Landscape Report: J. Sterling Morton had a strong enthusiasm for trees and advocated intensely for individuals and civic groups to plant them. Once he became secretary of the Nebraska Territory, he further spread his message of the value of trees and Morton first proposed a tree planting holiday to be called “Arbor Day” at a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture.

The celebration date was set for April 10, 1872. Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for the largest number of properly planted trees on that day. It was estimated that more than 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.

Many other states also passed legislation to observe Arbor Day each year. By 1920, more than 45 states and territories were celebrating Arbor Day. The tree planting tradition became prominent in schools across the nation in 1882, with students were learning about the importance of trees as well as receiving a tree to plant in their own yard. They continue to do so today in many states.


Celebrate arbor day by planting a tree!


Trees make a difference in our lives, every day.

Currently, Arbor Day is celebrated in all 50 states. The most common date for the state observance is the last Friday in April — National Arbor Day — but a number of state Arbor Days are at other times to coincide with the best tree planting weather, from January and February in the south to May in the far north.

Find out when people in your state gather together to plant and celebrate trees.

So, just why do we celebrate trees?  They are essential to our health and quality of life. Trees provide many benefits, called ecosystem services, that impact nearly every aspect of our daily life. Trees improve air and water quality, reduce heating and cooling costs, improve health outcomes, increase business, and so much more. Simply stated, we need trees.

How do we determine the value of those benefits trees provide where we live? Research and technology have made it much easier to quantify those ecosystem services.  The value of your tree and the ecosystem services it provides can be found by visiting this web page.  It’s fun and easy to find out just what your tree contributes to the urban forest.


Find out what your tree is worth in benefits.


Trees provide ecosystem services including shade.

Join us in paying tribute to our trees which make up our urban forests by selecting and planting a tree where you live or taking part in a community tree planting. Learn how to choose and plant a tree properly to help improve the longevity and hopefully it will be providing those benefits in the future for your grandchildren and beyond. Trees can be a living legacy to great environmental stewardship.  Plant trees not just for the future, but with a future. Some additional resources are available below:

For the best advice on tree planting and care, seek out a tree care professional with the experience and expertise to care for your trees. Search for a tree care provider in your area. Also, consider hiring an ISA Certified Arborist which can be found here.

Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Resources and Assistance Available for Planting Hardwood Seedlings, The Education Store
Tree Support Systems, The Education Store
Tree Planting Part 1: Choosing A Tree, Video, Purdue Extension YouTube channel
Tree Planting Part 2: Planting Your Tree, Purdue Extension Video
Planting Problems: Trees Planted Too Deep, Video, Purdue Extension –  Forestry and Natural Resources
Tree Selection for Landscape, Purdue Extension – FNR Video
Tree Installation for the Landscape, Purdue Extension – FNR Video
Tree Pruning for the Landscape, Purdue Extension – FNR Video

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

Posted on May 1st, 2021 in Forestry, How To, Plants, Urban Forestry | No Comments »

Purdue Landscape Report: The hard freeze April 20th & 21st had many homeowners concerned about their perennial and annual plants in their landscape.  For the vast majority of perennial plants, there aren’t many issues long-term of concern.  Some foliage and flowers have significant damage, but the plants will recover, and possibly release new vegetative buds in severe cases.  The plants that suffered the most damage, and in some cases death, are the annuals planted by impatient landscapers and gardeners.  Planting annuals prior to the frost-free date (May 10th in central Indiana) will more than likely cause a replant to occur.


Figure 1. Cold temperatures and cold on April 21-22 caused stress on many plants that have broken buds.

In addition to the potential stress from the temperatures, many trees received broken limbs due the combined weight of the leaves/flowers and snow load.


Figure 2. A Japanese Zelkova in full leaf with a heavy snow load.

If you maintain a client’s fruit trees (i.e. apples), there may be a significant impact on fruit production.  The Purdue Meigs Horticultural Research Farm, located about eight miles south of the West Lafayette campus, recorded a low temperature of 22o F on April 21st.  Dr. Peter Hirst, pomologist, indicated that at the current stage of flowering a temperature of 25o F might result in a 90% bud kill.  Since there was a significant snowfall, the hope is that there was some moderation in temperatures.


Figure 3. Apple flowers on April 22 in West Lafayette. Photo by Tristand Tucker.


Figure 5. Apple flowers on April 22 in West Lafayette. Photo by Tristand Tucker.


Figure 4. Apple flowers on April 22 in West Lafayette. Photo by Tristand Tucker.

Plants that have been stressed due to cold temperatures should be closely monitored over the growing season.  Don’t prune ‘dead’ portions until you allow more buds to break.  Chances are the early foliage was dropped and new leaves will soon emerge.  Be sure to provide adequate moisture to assist in recovery.  Currently about half of the state is in the beginning stages of drought, so be sure to provide irrigation now if your area is dry.  Always remember that too much water can be just as detrimental as too little water.

The Indianapolis Star published an article on the extreme low temperatures.

Purdue Landscape Report
Tree Installation for the Landscape, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Effects of Cold Weather on Horticultural Plants in Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Winterize Your Trees, The Education Store
What do Trees Do in the Winter? , Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources

Kyle Daniel, Nursery & Landscape Outreach Specialist
Purdue Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

Posted on April 30th, 2021 in How To, Publication, Wildlife | No Comments »

FNR-616-CoverMany landowners are interested in enhancing their property for wildlife. An important first step in that process is creating a plan. As the adage goes, “failing to plan, is planning to fail.” Just as you would have a blueprint if you were building a house or a map if you were starting a road trip, the same is true when you are managing habitat for wildlife on your land.

Landowners can tailor a wildlife habitat management plan to their own personal goals for their property. Maybe a hunter wants to increase the population of upland birds on their property, or a bird-watcher would like to improve the overall diversity of songbirds in their woodlands. Management plans help turn these goals into reality.

This 12 page publication titled Creating a Wildlife Habitat Management Plan for Landowners is packed with photos, resources and suggestions to help meet your goals.

View other wildlife habitat management publications and video resources as you place keywords in the search field located on The Education Store website.

A Template for Your Wildlife Habitat Management Plan, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Managing Your Woods for White-Tailed Deer, The Education Store
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel
A Woodland Management Moment, Purdue Extension – FNR playlist
Wildlife Habitat Hint, Purdue Extension – FNR playlist
Ask an Expert: Wildlife Food Plots, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel

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

Tree Bark Damage

Photo from publication FNR-492-W

Question: I am actually a Master Gardner in Hamilton County and I need help with a tree bark damage question. We have a beautiful dogwood tree that is about 18’ tall and 6” in diameter. By accident my husband backed into the tree with his truck while unloading mulch – he did not see it! Now there is severe damage to the bark at the bumper height – about 3” wide and 14” long. All the way down the bark is gone.

What are the chances the tree will survive? What if anything should I do at this point?

My husband wanted to cover it with painter’s tape to protect it but I know that is not good for the tree. Please let me know your suggestions as I do hope to save the tree if possible.

Answer: Well, that is certainly an unfortunate accident for the tree! There may be a rescue treatment worth trying that research has shown promise in sealing the wound. The ability for the tree to seal and close off wounds is based on species, age and energy resources. Additionally, follow these instructions…

  1. Keep the tree healthy; mulch and supplemental watering during drought conditions.
  2. Trace the wound with a wood file and sharp knife, removing any loose bark to a clean wound.
  3. Take black plastic and attach it to the tree wound, just past the wound edge, using small, ¼” staples from a staple gun.
  4. Attach the plastic so that it forms a seal which will help to maintain a moist environment for parenchyma cells to do their work at compartmentalizing and creating wound wood on the perimeter of the damaged area.
  5. The plastic may need to be checked periodically to be sure it is attached well until removal.
  6. Leave the wound covered for about 12 months, then remove carefully.

This will not guarantee recovery, but research has indicated it does facilitate healing more quickly in many species. Continue to monitor for health and recovery.

Good luck!

Tree Wound and Healing, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Equipment Damage to Trees, Got Nature? Blog
Tree Defect Identification, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Tree Pruning Essentials, Publication & Video, The Education Store
Tree Pruning: What Do Trees Think?, The Education Store
Mechanical Damage to Trees: Mowing and Maintenance Equipment, The Education Store
Tree Planting Part 1: Choosing a Tree, Video, Purdue Extension Channel
Tree Planting Part 2: Planting Your Tree, Purdue Extension Video

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

Posted on April 21st, 2021 in Forestry, Gardening, How To | No Comments »

Purdue Landscape Report: PART 1 – The Importance of “Physical” Soil Testing
In my 40 years of teaching and consulting, one of the biggest and most frustrating problems I continually encounter is when so called “landscape professionals” and homeowners continue to apply annual soil fertilizers, lime, and other soil amendments without ever conducting a professional soils test.

Before planting long-lived trees, shrubs, flowering perennials and lawns, it is absolutely essential to have your soil tested for its physical, chemical, and biological properties. To have a beautiful landscape, an awesome lawn, or a very productive vegetable garden, we need to do soil tests because the health and vigor of everything we grow is directly dependent on the soil we are growing our plant’s roots in.


Figure 2: It is important to recognize the amount of sand, silt and clay in your landscape soils.


Figure1: A soil probe can be useful for soil testing and checking for moisture in the soil.

As an analogy, when you go to a family doctor or physician, why will they usually require a professional blood test from you?  They want to “show you the numbers” of your cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, sodium, potassium, and a whole array of other very important blood tests. Again, if they prescribe you to take medications, but they are not helping and can actually hinder your health, lawsuits can definitely occur. I tell my students, before anything is applied on a client’s property, “show me the numbers”!

Although many intelligent homeowners and landscapers may have initially done a chemical soil test, many have never done a soil texture, soil compaction, and/or soil drainage test on their property or their clients. Why do we need to do these “physical” soil tests?  Think about it. For root growth, its not just about nutrient deficiencies, toxicities, or soil acidity problems, its about life giving oxygen in the root zone. Without oxygen, the entire ecosystem below ground will suffer. This is why I recommend you to determine your soil texture, (sand, silt, and clay %’s). Professional soils labs can determine your soil’s texture and that is very important, not only for knowing how much and when to water, but to determine what kind of fertilizers will work best for your soil. Many sandy soils are nutrient deficient because they have little negatively charged organic matter or clay to hold onto the positively charged nutrient fertilizers (cations). Excess rain and watering will leach many of the quick-release fertilizers, especially nitrate and potassium out of the root zone. This is why I recommend slow-release fertilizers on most soils so your plant’s roots will have available nutrients for a much longer time.

For full article >>>

Soil Sampling Guidelines, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Soil Testing for Lawns, The Education Store
Consumer Horticulture: Collecting Soil Samples for Testing, The Education Store
Certified Soil Testing Laboratories, Purdue Extension – Master Gardener Program
Example soil test form

Chris Carlson, Associate Professor
Kent State University Arboriculture & Urban Forestry

Got Nature?