AWW Club of the Year!

I'm proud to announce that our students were awarded the 4-H Alabama Water Watch Group of the Year award. These kids have worked hard to learn how to perform stream biomonitoring and water chemistry monitoring. Congrats, water watchers!

Field Trip! Little River Canyon

Today, we headed to Little River Canyon and DeSoto State Park in northeastern Alabama so that Ardmore students could experience camping, hiking and learning to weave longleaf pine baskets from the park naturalist. Thanks to a grant from PPG, this field trip was free to students!Our first stop was Little River Canyon Center, where students took a botany hike, visited the falls and got a lesson on native snakes from Sierra Reavis. Sierra was an excellent guide and teacher.

Our next stop was DeSoto State Park, where we took the time to set up camp before our class in the nature center. Brittney Hughes, the park naturalist, is an expert in longleaf pine basketry. We spent a few hours learning from her and making our own small baskets.

The students were excited to get to see the endangered green pitcher plants.

Their favorite part was probably the snake.

After the classes, we headed back to the camp site. Mariya showed us a camping tradition from Kazakhstan: fire potatoes. Yum!

Of course there…

Exploring the Cahaba: Alabama's Living River with Legacy

Chloe Wilson and I attended a Legacy educator workshop this weekend to brush up on our knowledge of benthic macroinvertebrates and to scope out the location for our naturalist program.
It was a treat to see the rare Cahaba lillies in bloom. You can see them only in certain locations in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, as they require swift current and direct sunlight.

We had an amazing biomonitoring workshop with Mona Dominguez from Alabama Water Watch. We found more variety of macroinvertebrates than we have ever seen before!

We also saw some other creatures. Look at this moth! It looks more like a piece of candy than an insect. Check out this mama wolf spider. We also learned some interesting tricks for helping students remember how to identify poison ivy.
We are looking forward to sharing what we have learned with the students in our naturalist program this year.

Nature in Art

Art students get a closer look at nature through
the loupes.

Citizen Science Soil Collection Program: What’s in Your Backyard?

What do cholesterol meds, drugs that help prevent rejection of organ transplants and penicillin all have in common? They come from fungi. Ardmore High School students are learning about the importance of biological research and helping scientists identify new soil-dwelling microbes by participating in the University of Oklahoma’s citizen science soil collection program. This program is in partnership with the National Cancer Institute. Researchers think that the next new life-saving cancer treatment might be living in our yards. Alabama has a variety of unique soil types, so naturally we are interested to see if we can help.Our students are collecting soil samples from various locations around the county. A lab will analyze the samples and use the genetic barcode of the fungi to identify new species. They will use Cheerios (yes, Cheerios!) to prepare a culture of the bacteria. Once the lab has identified what kind of microscopic life there is in our dirt, they will send us information…