web analytics

Tag Archive | "butterfly garden"

Meaningful New Year’s resolution

Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller


When making a New Year’s Resolution, make it fun and emotionally meaningful for you and family members.

I have been reading research studies on how informal learning spaces like your yard provide the opportunity to make life experience connections. They have long-term impact for family understanding about the environment that support a healthy and sustainable future. Create a pesticide free butterfly garden with native plants to entice insects, birds, neighbors, and friends. Let’s get everyone outside.

Creating a pesticide-free butterfly garden helps children learn about nature, while helping the insects and birds in your own backyard.

Creating a pesticide-free butterfly garden helps children learn about nature, while helping the insects and birds in your own backyard.

To develop an interest in nature and natural history research suggests a need for frequent and recurring experiences over many years. Last week’s nature niche was about our family’s Christmas tree experiences that continued throughout the kids’ entire growing up adventure.

Involvement with local fauna and flora instill emotional feelings that create responsibility for the local natural and human community. It is an experiential place-based education. When local plants and animals like insects are discovered and valued, conservation and re-wilding our neighborhoods becomes feasible. One research paper focused on the ecological importance of insects for our own healthy living.

When considering a New Year’s Resolution, select activities where the family explores outdoors on trails at county parks, nature centers, or has excursions in the yard. I recall one family experience when Jenny Jo saw dots high in the sky when she was about three. She asked what birds were flying. I looked and said I missed them. She asked again and I looked more intently. I was looking too close. The birds were very high in the sky.

We went outside and saw about 250 Broad-wing Hawks soaring in a heat thermal as they migrated south one October. It was an amazing experience that took about five minutes. It provided an emotional connection with the natural world. Reading and showing pictures of hawks riding thermals in books or on the Internet does not create an emotional connection that effectively builds appreciation for the natural world.

Perhaps your childhood experiences did not include similar events but it is I time to create new meaningful family traditions with emotional nature connections. Walking in natural areas, exploring wild things in your yard, or growing a butterfly garden will persist in the mind and heart of child for a lifetime.

Outdoor experiences help organize knowledge in the brain by what I call “hook” placement. It provides a hook in the mind to place experience knowledge in your own mental file cabinet. Once sorted and stored in a meaningful manner, book knowledge has a good place to be combined for rapid recall. It prevents searching unsuccessfully for things that get misplaced somewhere deep in memory recesses. Classroom book knowledge becomes more effective when connected with real world experiences like field trips to nature centers.

We learn best when we connect emotional outdoor experiences with new knowledge gained from what we hear, read, or see when surfing the Internet. We can compare a multitude of misinformation we are bombarded with from other people or see on the Internet. Nature exposure helps us make better sense of our surroundings.

Make the best New Year’s resolution ever. Explore outdoors with the family to build connections with each other and with the nature world during the coming year. It is more fun than resolving to lose weight.

The research paper concluded that intellectual messages detached from direct real world experiences in the outdoors are often impotent.

My friend Bob Pyle, a nature writer and butterfly field guide author, states that the butterfly net is perhaps the cheapest, simplest and most effective environmental tool ever invented.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

Posted in Featured, Outdoors, Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments Off on Meaningful New Year’s resolution

Butterflies and blooms enchant children

Homeschoolers take field trip to Frederik Meijer Gardens

By Sarah Read

Homeschooler Mark Dugan was lucky enough to have a butterfly land on his head.

Homeschooler Mark Dugan was lucky enough to have a butterfly land on his head.

Forget the typical stereotypes of homeschooling. Over two dozen area families, nearly 90 children total, gathered at Frederik Meijer Gardens this week to—gasp!—socialize and explore the world beyond their kitchen tables. “Believe it or not, we do get out and do things, all the time,” laughed Lori Gwilt, a homeschooling mom from Sunfield, who joined other families from Greenville, Rockford, Ionia, Lowell, Stanton and Sand Lake for Monday’s field trip.

Organized by the Greenville Michigan Homeschoolers group, the tour included exploring the seasonal butterfly exhibit, along with their sculpture park and elaborate outdoor children’s garden. The weather cooperated nicely for the event, allowing families to enjoy a picnic lunch around the pavilion with clear skies. “The weather was perfect,” shared Barb Kaaikala, of Greenville, “which helped make this a wonderful experience.”

“[We] loved it,” added Candice Fleszar, of Lowell. “Our family had a fantastic time and got to meet many new, wonderful people.”

Post photo by S. Read

Post photo by S. Read

In addition to their own home studies, members of Greenville Michigan Homeschoolers followed up the field trip two days later with butterfly-related activities and lessons at the Greenville Area Community Center on April 14.

Greenville Michigan Homeschoolers is an inclusive group providing connection, support, group activities, field trips, mom meet-ups and more to area homeschoolers. To learn more information, visit www.greenvillemichiganhomeschoolers.com.

Post photo by S. Read

Posted in Featured, NewsComments Off on Butterflies and blooms enchant children



Get Your Copy of The Cedar Springs Post for just $40 a year!