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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:

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:

Birds of Prey

Bill or Brian Robinson bring in a number of beautiful and interesting predatory birds (owl, Harris Hawk, kestrel, Turkey vulture, or red-tailed hawk.) While each bird perches on his leather glove, they engage the group on the subjects of instinct, migration, the food chain, and adaptation, noting the differences in beak and talon.

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

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