Monthly Archives: December 2015

Natural History of the Berkshires-A Field Course for Teachers and Adults

natural history specimensIf you would like to learn about the natural history of Berkshire County, this is the course for you. We will be exploring the natural world of birds, bugs, mushrooms, lichens, reptiles, amphibians, algae and so much more. There will be experts and naturalists along the way to show us how we can tell if a bird has a nest of eggs or how a little beetle larva can devour a bull frog. And we will be checking out some specimens that are not natural to the Berkshires–the invasives.

yellow warblerSponsoring Organizations: MCLA, Cornell University, Dr. Augie’s Science Programs

Course Location: Pittsfield/Lanesborough

Schedule: July 5-8, 2016

Time: 8am to 5pm

Cost: $250 for 4 days, $125 for 2 days

Target Audience:
Youth and adults over the age of 16 and science educators who teach 6-12th grades or the general public.

You can participate for 4 days or 2 days. I promise all days will be fun and exciting learning experience.

Instructor: Lisa Provencher, M.S. Entomology. B.S. Environmental Science, co-instructors, Scott LaGreca Ph. D. Botany, John Wheeler, Berkshire Mycology Society.

aquaticsThroughout this course we will meet with scientists and local naturalists as we explore and learn about the natural world in which we live. The course will include several ways everyone can contribute to science including programs such as: Citizen Science, biodiversity days and the fast and furious bioblitz.

When given the opportunity to observe nature deeply, people of all ages often develop an in-depth understanding of the importance of environmental and ecological issues that impact their lives and the lives of those who will live on this earth after us. The purpose of this course is to cultivate a community of well informed, educated, and concerned teachers, who will foster within their students a passion for the natural world.

The curriculum will afford educators and all who attend the opportunity to learn about the natural history of local plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and archaea through inquiry and observation. These topics can also be integrated with math, history, language arts and social studies. Given the current concern with global climate change. We must recognize that all living things, not just humans, represent part of the existing biodiversity. It is crucial that we, as informed citizens of this planet, are able to recognize and identify living organisms and understand that they almost certainly hold solution to biodiversity loss and the key to global sustainability.

Natural History class application form

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Posted by on December 31, 2015 in Adult education, backyard science, Berkshire BioBlitz, events


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Mating Dance

slug slimePart 2:
Two slugs mean business. As we all know from watching David Attenborough, slugs are hermaphrodites. The trails on the glass, sides and even top of the terrarium, this morning give a clue that there might have been some elaborate mating dance going on last night–and some actually mating.

If these two did mate, there may be a clutch of up to 30 eggs and then…a new terrarium will be in order.

To see mating slugs check this out. Its not Attenborough, but its pretty amazing. I know we all feel sorry for the third slug.

To learn about weird slug behavior check out this Slate article on slugs.

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Posted by on December 15, 2015 in backyard science, terrarium


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Not Quite Gorillas in the Mist

slug trailsPart 1:

The terrarium has some recently discovered local residents. There have been interesting track patterns on the glass in the morning. The origin of these trails has been a mystery until recently. Approaching the terrarium at night with a light has revealed two kinds of glass artists. The common earthworm and a pale sickly looking slug.

slug in the mistKnowing worms like to eat rotting leaves, adding a handful of pretty fall leaves was a easy task and as a bonus it looked nice. The next morning, the leaves were moved to the back of the terrarium by some resident that preferred them in a pile stuffed below the backdrop. Lovely.

The slug, who was eating a pretty ‘yet to be identified’ leafy plant, was offered some arugula. The arugula was untouched, and the leafy plant lost another leaf. The next night I added a piece of green leaf lettuce. That did the trick! not just one slug appeared to eat it, but two.
slug food

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Posted by on December 15, 2015 in backyard science, terrarium