Thursday, April 24, 2014

Texoma Earth Day

Since the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, Earth Day events have been held annually, in communities, schools  and other settings,  first in the United States and then expanding around the world  in the 1990’s, to promote protection of our environment.

Sunset Reflection by Lee Hatfield

The Friends of Hagerman will participate in Texoma Earth Day on Saturday, April 26, on the Municipal Lawn in Sherman, Texas.  The Friends will display photos of wildlife at the Refuge, distribute Refuge literature and host nature themed craft activities for children, with the help of the Bluestem Chapter, Texas Master Naturalists.

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is all about protecting the environment, working to provide and conserve a natural habitat for wildlife.  Refuge management practices are carried out in ways that are environmentally safe.  The Visitor Center design incorporates many green features and received Silver level LEED certification – Leadership in energy and Environmental  Design.  

Visitors are encouraged to avoid bringing or leaving items that are destructive to plants and animals, and to leave the Refuge without “souvenirs” other than photos and memories.

At Texoma Earth Day visitors can learn more about building green, about environmentally-friendly products, and can recycle paper, unused prescriptions medications, electrical appliances and more  - in addition there will be a variety of vendors and musical entertainment.  

In addition to participating in Earth Day celebrations, here are some tips for things you can do to protect our environment:

Finally – who knew – a consultant recently told me that to go green when printing, use “Garamond” font, because it uses the least amount of ink or toner when printing.  You can check it out at this website - next up is “Courier”, available on our blog format, just in case you want to print this timeless article!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Make Way for the School Bus

School visit in 2012
In spring a youngster’s fancy turns to – field trips!  Yes, it’s time to make way for school buses at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge as the field trip season begins next week.  The Friends currently have 6 school visits, 581 children in all, plus teachers and chaperones, on the calendar for late April and May.  Here’s what is planned for the students:
  • A power point show prepared by Refuge Manager Kathy Whaley showing the children what a Refuge is, and who lives there, as well as who works there and what they do, for a good, age-appropriate overview.
  • A guided nature walk on Harris Creek Trail - due to the closing of that trail April 25, one group will bus down to the observation platform at Egret and practice using binoculars to view wildlife from there.
  • During snack time (animal crackers and water!), a presentation by one or the nest box monitors on the Nest Box Project and Bluebird life cycle.
Another shopper at Sam's remarked - "That's a LOT of cookies!"
  • For grades 1 – 3: Presentation on the butterfly life cycle, with a story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and creating butterfly life cycle bracelets to wear.

  • For older students: Finding Fossils – students will uncover purchased fossils embedded in a mix of sand and plaster of Paris, and will identify their “find” from a fossil chart.

All of these activities are planned and led by volunteers, with snacks and craft materials provided by the Friends of Hagerman.  We would love to be able to have more schools visit next spring – but more volunteers will be needed, the current program of activities requires a minimum of 6-8 volunteers per visit.  If this sounds like your bag, contact us through Comments, below.

You may also contact us through the Friends website, at any time!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Second Saturday Ahead

Wondering what the plans are for Second Saturday this month at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge?  Dr. Wayne Meyer, Associate Professor of Biology at Austin College, will speak on “Birding by Ear” for the Second Saturday program, at 10 am on Saturday, April 12.

According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “When a bird sings, it is telling you what it is and where it is.”  Learning bird calls adds a new dimension to birding and helps identify birds that may not be seen or seen clearly.

On the website, Birds we read
Many birders focus primarily on learning to identify birds by sight based on plumage, colors and field markings. Learning to identify birds by sound, however, can help birders identify many birds whose songs and calls are more distinctive than their coloration. Tuning your ear to a bird’s song can also help you locate birds more easily instead of relying on brief flickers of moment through dense trees and brush, and birders who recognize birds’ songs can also enjoy birding when low light levels and poor visibility may restrict visual birding. Most important, however, is the fact that a bird’s song is yet one more clear field mark for its positive identification, and combining a knowledge of bird sounds with visual sightings can help you better appreciate the diversity of avian life you see.

Meyer will also lead a birding walk that morning at 8 am, weather permitting; participants will meet at the Visitor Center at the Refuge.  Second Saturday nature programs at the Refuge are free and open to the public.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Refuge System Turns 111 Years Old

From the National Wildlife Refuge Association:
Happy Birthday to the world’s largest network of lands and waters conserved for wildlife – the National Wildlife Refuge System! Angered at the slaughter of birds for the women’s millinery trade in the late 19th Century, President Theodore Roosevelt knew something must be done to protect some of our most important natural resources – our native wildlife. With the stroke of a pen, on March 14, 1903, he created, through executive order, a sanctuary for birds at a small bird island in the Indian River Lagoon on the east coast of Florida (Pelican Island).
During his tenure, Roosevelt protected such jewels as the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Oklahoma, the National Bison Range in Montana, the Hawaiian Islands NWR in Hawaii and the Three Arch Rocks NWR in Oregon to name a few.  From it’s humble 3-acre beginning at Pelican Island, the Refuge System is now the world’s largest network of publicly owned lands and waters dedicated to the conservation of wildlife spanning 150 million acres.
Without these 562 refuges and 38 wetland management districts, many bird, plant, reptile, mammal, insect and fish species would not be thriving as they are today. These lands and waters, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provide vital habitat for thousands of species across the nation.
While the System itself is still woefully underfunded to fully implement its conservation mission – the staff at these amazing places are some of the most dedicated workers you will ever meet.  One refuge employee summed up it up after being asked why they stay with the Service after years of budget cuts, frozen salaries and never enough resources, “We are paid in sunrises and sunsets, birds, bears and bunnies, and knowing we are leaving our world a better place for our children.”
But there is still plenty to celebrate! National Wildlife Refuges are economic engines in local communities, providing an average of $4.87 in local communities for every dollar appropriated by Congress. According to a report released late last year by the FWS, (Banking on Nature Report) refuges generate more than $2.4 million in economic output and create 35,000 jobs. The Refuge System is an economic and conservation powerhouse and has become a haven for hunters, anglers, bird and wildlife watchers, photographers, scientists and children learning about our natural world.
President Theodore Roosevelt would be proud.
NOTE:  Hagerman NWR, established in 1946, celebrated its 68th birthday in February.