loader image

Wildlife Package

an investigation of Ashokan’s wildlife and ecology

Exploring diverse wildlife habitats, students will discover what animals live amongst us on land and in the water. With hands-on investigations of indicator species in local freshwater systems they will learn the fundamentals of aquatic ecology. We’ll also explore the world of pollinators and the vital role they play in food production and biodiversity.

Classes & Activities:

– Animal Tracks & Traces
– Pond & Stream Investigations
– Power of Pollinators
– Cathedral Gorge Hike
– You Pick! (Recommendations: Explore & Draw Nature Journaling, Forest Ecology II: Ecosystems Exploration)

Evening Program choices: Night Walk, Birds of Prey, Campfire with S’Mores

What you get:

It’s Trout Fishing Time!

With the season just opening on April 1st, here’s a bit of backstory on this historic pastime, thanks to “Trout Fishing in the Catskills.” It’s a beautiful, knowledge packed book by avid fly fisherman and Catskill neighbor Ed Van Put (Skyhorse Publications, New York, NY). Fishing in the clean clear water of Catskill streams and rivers became a very popular activity in the early part of the 19th century, as city dwellers discovered the clean air, beautiful scenery, and relaxing pace of country life. The Esopus Creek starts at Slide Mountain, flows through the Ashokan Center, turns north, flows through Kingston and enters the Hudson River at Saugerties. It was and still is a favorite destination for anglers. The fishing craze of the 1800’s was partly inspired by the beautiful and alluring paintings done by Hudson River School Artists like Worthington Whittredge, Sanford Gifford, Jervis McEntee, and Asher Durand. They and many other well known Hudson River School artists were avid fishermen, and Whittredge, Gifford and McEntee often got together for fishing trips to the Catskills often making notes and sketches of their expeditions! There were many publications of the day extolling the joys of trout fishing,such as “Angling in America,” “Sporting Scenes and Sundry Sketches,” and “American Angler’s Guide.” They featured poems, articles and stories touting the virtues of being in nature and tossing a hook and line into pristine, babbling mountain streams. The advent of train service along Esopus Creek made the sport more accessible and by the 1860’s letters and articles expressing concern for the possible extinction of native trout in the Catskills began to appear in magazines and newspapers. This sparked public awareness about the need to protect and restore trout habitats. Today, the destructive effects of climate change — invasive plants and insects, and the…

Why did the caterpillar cross the road?

Every fall, you’ll notice woolly bear caterpillars crossing roadways and sidewalks. And they’re fast, for a caterpillar — they can travel up to 4 feet per minute, which is roughly equivalent to .05 miles per hour. These caterpillars are the second generation of the season. They’re on the move to find a secure place to hibernate under leaves for winter. Leaves provide critical habitat for many animals, which is why it’s so important to “leave your leaves” in autumn. In spring, these fuzzy friends will awake and form their cocoon, finally emerging as the adult Isabella Tiger Moth, a yellowish-brown moth. Please watch out for our fuzzy little friends as they cross trails and roads the next few weeks!

The Power of Pollinators

Did you know that without houseflies there would be no chocolate? Explore the myriad of creatures (insects, birds, bats, and more) that pollinate flowers and keep ecosystems thriving.

Pond & Stream Investigations

Just downstream from the Ashokan Reservoir, a vital source (40%) of NYC’s drinking water, The Ashokan Center is the host of many aquatic systems for students to explore. Students become citizen scientists by collecting biological samples from our ponds and streams to investigate the health of our freshwater ecosystems. Through observation and identification of the organisms found, students can form and test hypotheses about the health of the Ashokan aquatic ecosystems.

Animal Tracks & Traces

Home to many elusive creatures like beavers, bobcats, and bears, Ashokan is one of the best places in the Catskills to find traces of our animal neighbors. From feathers and bones to scat and tracks, we’ll actively observe and learn about the inhabitants of the woods, their behavior, and their roles in the ecosystem. We may even find nests and other homes animals create in burrows and tree cavities. Students learn what to look for in the environment to discover evidence of their favorite species, turning any walk into an exciting wildlife expedition!

Hike to Cathedral Gorge

Hike through an old Eastern Hemlock forest along the Esopus Creek and explore the natural and social history of the region! The trail passes relics of the recent and prehistoric past, including a 19th-century water mill, a 130-year-old covered bridge, and a glacial gorge, before it ends at a 80-foot waterfall—the walls of which reveal rock layers that are millions of years old.

Choose one more:

Explore and Draw Nature Journaling – NEW!

Forage outdoors for materials and engage in drawing and painting with newly opened eyes to discover and draw the beauty of the natural world.

Forest Ecology II: Ecosystems Exploration

During this active inquiry based activity, students will closely investigate, explore and contrast specific forest and meadow ecosystems. They will determine the difference between biotic and abiotic evidence and the conditions required to support life. As a result of these investigations, students will develop a deeper understanding of ecosystems and the interconnectedness between living organisms.

Forest Ecology I: Forestry Forensics

Students will become citizen science detectives and investigate the cause of the disappearance of Ash Trees in our area. After using a variety of tools and scientific methods to explore and collect data from existing trees, students will learn how to use evidence to develop conceptual understanding of invasive species and their dramatic impact on the ecosystem in New York State.

Evening Options:

Campfire (Outdoor or Indoor) with S’mores!

Enjoy an hour-long full-group campfire experience with warm s’mores, jokes, songs, and stories from the Ashokan staff. In the event of inclement weather we will create a similar experience indoors!

Night Walk

Use your ears like the deer, step softly like the fox. Observe the forest at night! (After May 15th, special arrangements need to be made.)

NYS Science Learning Standards:

3-LS2.D: Social Interactions and Group Behavior
(3- LS4-1) LS4.C: Adaptation
(5-LS1-1) LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
(MS-LS1-7) LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems