Spring! Don’t Walk.

The Black Creek Preserve is not only great for hiking, but environmentalists also do research to learn things about the animals that live there and their environment. We went to Black Creek the other day (around Earth Day) and took a hike with our friend, Abi, the environmental educator from Scenic Hudson.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group explore a vernal pool with Scenic Hudson environmental educator, Abi.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group explore a vernal pool with Scenic Hudson environmental educator, Abi.

On our hike, we saw several vernal pools. Vernal pools are pools of water that are only around in spring (vernal means spring). Types of animals, such as frogs and salamanders, come to vernal pools in the spring to lay their eggs.  So vernal pools are an important part of many animals’ reproductive life.  In the vernal pools, we saw two small peepers, one salamander, two big toads, and a lot of salamander eggs!

When we got to the Creek where the environmentalists were studying the eels, some kids put on waterproof suits and went out into the water to help capture the eels.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group help an environmental scientist catch eels.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group help an environmental scientist catch eels.

Then, we counted and weighed the eels. The environmentalists were doing this because they wanted to know how well the eels were doing, how many there were, and to learn more about their development.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group help environmental scientists count eels.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group help environmental scientists count eels.

We learned that eels are born in the ocean.  Then they swim to the Creek where they grow up, and then they swim back to the ocean to have their own babies.

Of course, we put the eels back.  We carried them upstream in a bag and then let them go in the water.

– Zoe


A Trip Along the Hudson River

After bundling up and going outside, our Roots & Shoots group met at the Black Creek Preserve. We played as we ran around the trail, which had fun slippery leaves in some places, and was pretty in some places and even creepy in others.  We talked with the environmental educator, Abi, from Scenic Hudson about the animals that live in the preserve and their habitats. We saw fences they put up that keep deer away from plants to keep the forest healthy.  The deer would eat all the baby plants, and then there would be just one kind of plant in the entire forest (the one that the deer don’t like), and that’s not healthy for the forest. There were also vernal pools. In summer, the pool dries up. But in spring and fall, the pool fills up, and it’s a great place for animals to live and breed.  And then we got to the Hudson River, where we climbed rocks and learned about the fish that live there.  On the way back, we saw a little hole dug into the roots of a tree.  It was a fox den!

Also, there was a movie being filmed at the creek while we were there.  We saw the film crew setting up as we walked in, and on the way out, I got to watch them do a take. It was really awesome.

Thanks so much to Abi and everyone who came.  Special thanks to Jenny for taking photos!  And to Scenic Hudson for protecting this beautiful forest for everyone to enjoy!


International Day of Peace 2012

Every year, HQ encourages all the local Roots & Shoots groups to celebrate International Peace Day by flying a peace dove kite. This was the first year our group participated. We made lots of little peace dove kites and tried our hand at flying them (along with some store bought ones) at the top of Burger Hill in Rhinebeck. We also took the opportunity to talk about peace from a personal perspective and a global perspective. Check it out.


An International Picnic Hike

Zoe: Last week we went on a picnic with a few of our friends.  It was on the Rail Trail in Kingston, which has a lot of copperheads and bunnies.  But we didn’t see any.  I’m very scared of bunnies, of course!  🙂

Sabine: The path was grassy, and you know what we saw?  A waterfall!

Zoe: And there was a swamp with a couch in it!

Sabine:  And mud!

Zoe:  And then we got to an art gallery.  It was right under the thruway in a tunnel!  It was made by a bunch of artists called teenagers, and they were inspired by Keith Haring and Basquiat (ok, my mom wrote that last part).  And then we finally found our destination: the field where we would picnic and play games.

Sabine: We played dreidel for candies!

Zoe: Because my great-great grandparents came here from Russia to escape the czar who hated Jewish people.  Milo and Conrad presented London Bridge for us to play.  Did you know, it’s been around since the middle ages?

Sabine: We played the bridge falling down and hide-n-seek!

Zoe: We ate raspberry-apple kugel from our family, and scones from Milo and Conrad.  Morgan and his family brought a bunch of yummy snacks.

Sabine: I liked the whipped cream on all of it, and I licked it and bit it!

Zoe: We talked about…

Sabine: We talked about hugging mommy.

Zoe: We talked about where each person’s family came from.  Almost everyone came from Europe.  Except my mom’s family also came from Russia.

Sabine: My favorite part was pulling fingers.  That was my favorite part.  And I hold hands with them (Milo and Conrad), and then I pull their fingers again.  And then I hold hands with them.  And biting mommy.

Zoe: My favorite part was when we went through the art gallery on the way back screaming our heads off just for the heck of it.

-A Zoe-and-Sabine report courtesy of the Associated Press

Onteora Lake Fun

At Onteora Lake we met our tour guide, Nick Martin.  As we walked around the lake and in the woods, we found lots of little creatures.  We saw a chipmunk scurrying through the woods.  We saw a millipede walk across the trail.  We saw a toad hop from my hat into a fire pit!  (There was no fire at the time.).  We saw a snake periscoping in the water.  (It was like Nick was charming him!)  We saw dragonflies everywhere!  And a frog in a small brook.  And a tree that a beaver had taken down.

Nick taught us lots of fun games about listening, which helped us to be more aware of our surroundings so we could hear and find the animals.

When we were hiking in the woods, there was a little mailbox-thingy.  You’d take out a binder, and you’d write your name, address and how many people were in your group.  Then when you came back, if you came back, you would make a check-mark to show that you safely were leaving the trail.  It’s a little rescue thing so that they know who you are, and if you go missing, they can find you!

I got 8 mosquito bites.  My mom has 3.  My little sister, Sabine, has 18!  And even though he was the juiciest, Iggy doesn’t have any because my mom karate-chopped them off him while she wore him!


P.S. What was funny and good was that in our group, there were three girls the same age with their little siblings, who were all the same age, too.

Tracking; And How To Be A Good Tracker

Have you ever heard of Nick Martin? Yesterday, my Roots & Shoots group went Tracking with him. We learned how to walk like a dog (which was pretty hard, because you have to put your back foot in the same place as your front foot. But it’s not as hard as walking like a cat because you have to walk in a straight line!) and how to tell the difference between the tracks of a squirrel and a mouse. (By the way, the difference is, a  squirrel’s footprints are bigger than a mouse’s footprints. ) My faveroite part was when I learned how to play Eagle’s Eye.  It taught us how to see and hear things.

Thank you, Nick! We loved it!

-Flash Girl

P.S. Here’s a riddle from our detective journals: What’s the same size and shape as an elephant, but weighs nothing?  Write your answer in the comments!

The First Meeting of Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots

In October, we went on a hike to pick up trash.  But there was no trash!  We got to the top of a beautiful hill and played some games.  We talked about the environment and Roots & Shoots.  We also said what we were worried about and what we wanted to save.  Our friend Jo, Benny’s mom, made this movie about it…

By Flash Girl