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!



Go Candidates! Our mock debate and election.

Have you been watching the presidential debates?  I have!  We’re about to decide who will be the President of the United States, and I think that’s exciting. It’s an important time because we’ll see if the leader of our country will change.  A lot of the issues that we talk about in our Roots & Shoots group are decided by the people who lead the different countries in the world.  So we decided to create our own mock presidential debate and election for our Roots & Shoots group to give kids practice for what they’ll be doing when they’re allowed to vote.

In our debate, the moderators (the hosts) called on kids to ask questions about things that were important to them.  The candidates were our parents volunteering to pretend to be the real candidates running for President right now: the Democrat President Barack Obama, the Republican Governor Mitt Romney, the Green party candidate Jill Stein and the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.  Our parents researched what those candidates would actually say about our issues.

We made a movie with the highlights from the debate (our parents got really into their roles!) and our reporter, Athena, made some really funny skits with the other kids and parents.  Watch it here:

After our debate, we watched the movie, Whale Rider, about a girl who wanted to be the next leader of her tribe, but her grandfather wouldn’t let her.  My mom thought it related to the debate because it was about leadership and what it takes to be a good leader.  When the people were picking a new tribal leader it was kind of like one big debate.  In a debate, the candidates talking about what they would do if they become president, then people see if they want to vote for that person.  In the movie, before someone was picked to become the leader, people have to make sure that you would make a good leader by seeing how they performed in certain Old Ways like special dances and fighting skills and tests of courage.  It was a really good movie.
Election day is a week from today: Tuesday, November 6th, 2012.  I think voting is a big responsibility, and I can’t wait until I’m older and I can do it.


P.S. from Hillary: Despite a wide favor in the polls for re-election of President Barack Obama, a tally of the votes cast by eligible voters (registered voters under the age of 18) after the debate showed that Green Party candidate Jill Stein won by a landslide!

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?

The Great Change

For the last two decades, there have been no women moderating the presidential debates. The moderator thinks up questions to ask the candidates who are running for President so that voters can see which one they like.  How can our country be equal if only men moderate the debates?  If only men are in charge of which questions are asked of our leaders, nobody’s speaking for a woman’s perspective .

Well, all that is changing in this year of 2012. Three sixteen-year-olds from New Jersey, Emma Alexrod, Elena Tsemberis, and Sammi Siegel, made a petition called “It’s Time for a Female Moderator.” A petition is a paper people sign to agree about something. And 100,000 people signed the girls’ petition!

So now, Mr. Lehrer has already hosted the first presidential debate on October 3rd; Candy Crowley will host the second presidential debate on October 16th; and Mr. Schieffer will host the third on October 22nd. The one Mrs. Crowley is hosting will be a lot like our Roots & Shoots mock presidential debate. People in the audience will ask questions to the candidates, the candidates will answer the questions, and the moderator will ask follow-up questions. For example, a person would ask how the candidates would take care of the environment. The candidates would say they would take care of the environment. Mrs. Crowley would ask how.

It was impressive for three 16-year-olds to make this petition and have people respond to it so well.  It really shows that young people are getting involved in important things.  And when young people do that, it shows that, even though kids can’t vote, we can still make a difference.  We now have a female moderator for this year’s presidential debate, and all because of the three girls who decided to help the women of our country.


The Blue Bird Meeting

Remember when we made those blue bird boxes last spring?  Well, now we got the chance to put it up somewhere!  The Comeau Property is a big, 77-acre piece of land that is kind of like a wildlife refuge.  Animals are protected there, including blue birds!  We offered one of the blue bird boxes we made to them, knowing it would be a good home for it.  Bob Rifenburg, the local blue bird expert, helped us picked out a good spot for it in a big, beautiful field where I like to play soccer.  Terry Antman, the woman in charge of these kind of donations,  arranged for our blue bird meeting to happen on Comeau Appreciation  Day. There were a lot of fun things happening that day.  My favorite thing was when they lit a paper lantern into the sky. A lot of people came to watch us put the bluebird box up and Bob gave a little talk on bluebirds. Check out the highlights in this video, and don’t miss the funny part at the end!


Peace Project of the Week

Guess what?  Our latest project won an award – Project of the Week, and we’re featured on the home page of HQ!  Thank you to everybody who participated!

-Zoe and Hillary

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