Wildlife Rescuers!

Last week our Roots & Shoots group went to a Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. There were lots of awesome birds. I counted them. There were four bard owls, one barn owl, two screech owls, one black vulture, a seagull, a morning dove and a swan. There were a couple of ravens, a small hawk and five other red-tailed hawks, along with two great horned owls. In all, there were twenty birds!

Each animal had its own, amazing story and hardly any animals had the same. One red-tailed hawk had lived as a pet in someone’s living room for two years. You can watch the movie we made to hear a couple of the stories.

I was always sad when I heard that an animal couldn’t be returned into the wild. All these animals belong in nature and when an animal can’t survive it is sad. Luckily, they have Ellen to care for them!

Thank you, Ellen, for taking care of birds, big and small, and for showing us the birds. I also want to thank everybody who came for your cooperation, interest and donation.


Note from Hillary:

Our visit to Ravensbeard was also a fundraiser where each family contributed a little bit and together we were able to donate almost $50 to the center and Ellen for her great work!

Be sure to check out Ellen’s website to learn more about simple things you can do to help wildlife as well as how you can help wildlife in trouble.  You can be a rescuer, too!

Also, contact Ellen for your own group’s educational program or for your child’s next birthday party!

R&S with Ellen


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!


More About Bees!

Here are some of the interesting tidbits we had to cut out of the last bee film (so it wasn’t too much in one sitting) for those of you hungry for more info. In this film, Cindy talks more about using the smoker, her special recipe for bee tea, shows us what bees make and answers kids’ questions about the particulars of queen bees, bee stings and bears! Oh, my!

The Care and Feeding (and Saving) of Bees

The other day, our Roots & Shoots group went to visit the property of an R&S friend, Cindy Joao. Cindy keeps hives of honeybees on her property and helps them prosper. In turn, the honeybees help Cindy and her neighbors pollinate their food. During our visit, we got to see the bees, the things they make, and talk to Cindy. We talked about bees, about bee-keeping and about how the bees are in trouble and need our help.

The visit gave us all a little more to think about when it comes to bees, and a glimpse into perhaps a different relationship we can have with them. This is the hand-out that Cindy gave to us from her bee-keeping teacher, Chris Harp, which tells you how to create a bee sanctuary in your backyard.

And this is the documentary a lot of us watched in preparation for our bee-u-tiful visit.

For younger kids, we recommend watching this short movie instead, to get the jist of the issue.

You can learn a lot from bees. But you may only have until the year 2035. Then the bees could be gone. How old will you be?

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.

We’re Famous!

We’re super-excited to announce that our recent Ecosystem Studies project has been selected by Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots to receive the Project of the Week award!  We got this snazzy certificate to display:

Project of the Week Certificate[1](2)

Plus, our movie about ecosystems, ZoeTV Episode 1, is now being featured on the Roots & Shoots website as the Project of the Week!  Check it out!

October 14, 2011
The Hudson Valley Home School R&S (NY) group was interested in learning more about ecosystems and environmentalism so they contacted two local environmental education organizations about their kids’ programs. They participated in special programs that illustrated two different ecosystems, and how weather events affect them. After becoming “ecosystem experts”, they put the information together as an educational program on their group’s blog.

Thanks again to everyone who participated!  We hope to see you all again soon!

Love the world!

-Hillary and Zoe

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