Saturday, November 28, 2015

First People of Wisconsin

A continuation of the wonderful programs experienced through the Master Naturalist Program at the MacKenzie Center

A guest speaker from the Ho-Chunk Nation enlightened us on the history of Wisconsin's first people.
The Ho-Chunk, formerly referred to as the Winnebago, began their history in Wisconsin over 12,000 years ago. Their oral history is passed on by having at least three generations present when the stories are told. This way all have a say in the accuracy and any need for corrections or additions is met at the same time. Understanding that it is their story to tell, not mine, I will not elaborate on details.

Tree Marker
He really left us all wanting more information, as many of us in the audience did not have the background on native peoples in our years of education. Now it is mandatory is Wisconsin schools to teach American Indian Studies due to Act 31.

So if you need to catch up I can recommend two books I'm currently reading by Patti Loew, PhD. titled "Native People of Wisconsin " and "Indian Nations of Wisconsin".

Tree Marker

Trees were often used by various native American people to mark trails or significant sites. Here a tree at the center is identified as a marker, probably identifying a linear mound adjacent to it. Young sapling trees are bent just several feet above the ground and trained to grow in a specific direction.

Friday, November 27, 2015

UW Geology Museum

Boaz Mastodon-center
A continuation of the wonderful programs experienced through the Master Naturalist Program at the MacKenzie Center.

We had a guided tour of the Geology Museum on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, in Madison. It's a smaller museum but packed with rare and world class specimens.

A few that stood out were the Boaz Mastodon shown here among other interesting finds.


I thought I'd share the State fossil the Trilobite-Calymene celebra. Related to our modern day anthropods (like crabs and spiders), it would molt and shed it's shell that was often left behind and fossilized.

Red Granite


Here's the State Rock, Red Granite. This igneous rock includes minerals of Quartz, Feldspar, Mica and Hornblends. You'll find plenty of this rock around Wisconsin and also in a few kitchens as it makes a beautiful counter top.

Pine Cone
My favorite fossil was this pine cone.

When you're in Madison be sure to go to this little gem of a museum, they have self guided tours and best of all it's FREE.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

A continuation of the wonderful programs experienced through the Master Naturalist Program at the MacKenzie Center.

We toured the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, located in Monona, WI near Madison, a modern facility, where you can explore the environmental challenges we face today.

As a climate science center the interactive exhibits are amazing. My favorite Science on a Sphere shown here with atmosphere patterns.

Aldo Leopold, author of "A Sand County Almanac", was the nations first professor of game management at UW, and known for his call to action for "Land Ethics".

His legacy lives on the through the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo, WI.

Recreation of Leopold shack at Center

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Baraboo Hills

A continuation of the wonderful programs experienced through the Master Naturalist Program at the MacKenzie Center.

East Side of Devil's Lake
We learned about the unique geology of Wisconsin with a guided tour, by Sue the Naturalist, at Devil's Lake State Park.

Devil's Lake is located along the Baraboo Hills, an ancient rocky outcropping. The exposed rock, called Baraboo Quartsite is older than the Hymalaians. Thought to be 1.6 billion years old by scientists.

Note: Here's were evolutionists and creationists differ.

West Side Driftless

On one side of the Lake the last glacier advancement ended and the other side is known as the Driftless Area.

Learning about rocks

You'll see a variety of landforms in the Baraboo Hills, created by glaciers. A very unique area right here in Wisconsin.

Pigmy Forest

Other unique ecosystems included a pygmy forest. These trees of hickory and ash are much older than they appear. Their growth is limited by the available nutrients but they still survive  atop the Eastern Trail at Devil's Lake.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanks Volunteers

Lodge and Education Center
Since this week is Thanksgiving, I like to express my thanks to the new volunteers from the Master Naturalist Program at the MacKenzie Center. Who will be doing great things in the coming year to reach out and serve a variety of nonprofit organizations and educational centers.

I myself also participated in the 6 days of workshops, presentations and tours, helping us to understand our natural surroundings. Among 20 other self proclaimed nature nerds, from across the state of Wisconsin, we will put our new found knowledge and skills to use, through interpretive programs, citizen science or stewardships, known as our Capstone Projects.

My volunteering will be to communicate to the public the variety plants at the Midway Prairie Garden along the Great River State Trail. By spring of 2016 I hope to have signage identifying these amazing plants along with a blog site to find out more information on their benefits.

Log Cabin Museum
If you haven't heard of the MacKenzie Center, keep on reading this article.

Located on 500 acres, just 25 miles north of Madison, Wisconsin near Poynette, the Center offers environmental education and outdoor skills classes. This diverse center also has interpretive trails, exhibits and museums, plus its adjacent to an arboretum.

Check them out on line and sign up to receive news about upcoming programs. I hear the spring Maple Syrup Festival is a fun place to be the first weekend in April. Admission is free on this WI DNR property, but donations are always accepted.


Shown are a few of my favorite animals in the small rescue zoo on the property. These animals are unable to be released back into the wild. Many were injured animals rehabilitated by agencies or removed from private individuals holding them captive.





I stayed in the dorms on the property with four other ladies. A bit like a hostel, and just as affordable. We enjoyed the evenings discussing the days programs and working on our Capstone Projects.


Evening Fires

In the evenings we could relax in the lounge with a nice fire surrounded by the collections of animals on display. As another guest commented it was a bit like "Night at the Museum". 

An even bigger Thank You goes out to the team from the MacKenzie Center and Devil's Lake, for organizing some of the best programs and tours.