Kids in Nature

Click here to watch a 6 minute video about Kids & Conservation

Gwynn Valley camp campers

Land Trusts and Summer Camps Work Together to Protect Important Lands

This is the time of year when lots of parents are sending their children off to summer camps.  Ah, to be young again…to swim in the cold mountain lakes, try for that bull’s eye in archery, fall in love with that really cute counselor…

What do summer camps and land trusts have in common?  A love of land and the natural world.

The Pacolet Area Conservancy partnered with Gwynn Valley Camp, in Brevard, North Carolina in 1995 and its one of the projects PAC is most proud of.  The owners of the camp at the time were Howie and Betty Boyd and it was their dream to help enable the camp to continue far into the future and at the same time preserve the natural environment of the camp.  The grounds are home to several rare and endangered plants and even a unique spider. Three hundred acres are forever preserved, while forty-three acres were intentionally left out of the easement so there would be room to build additional structures for the operation of the camp.

Anne and Grant Bullard are the new owners of Gwynn Valley Camp and fully support the conservation agreement.  They say, “We are pleased to have our land protected and to know that Gwynn Valley will be home to many future generations of campers.”

Located on the north-facing slope of Jim Raines Mountain, Gwynn Valley Camp is beautifully situated to the south of Pisgah National Forest, providing a natural viewshed for visitors to the National Forest.  The camp has a nearly 1,000′ elevation change and provides watershed protection for Carson Creek, a beautiful, cold mountain creek with a waterfall and cascades and is a tributary to the French Broad River.  With the varied elevation, north-facing orientation, and high moisture content, this property has a high diversity of native plant and animal species.

PAC’s Land Protection Specialist, Pam Torlina, has the privilege of monitoring this jewel each and every year and states, “It is truly a treasure for those visiting the camp to have the opportunity to discover some of the things that make this property so special and to know that it will be preserved, for their children, and many generations come.”

Summer camps and land trusts…another great connection.


Land Trusts work starts with our future

PAC’s Land Protection Specialist, Pam Torlina presented a Nature Seminar and walk for the Tuesday School, a pre-school, in Tryon.  “It’s important to teach children about their surroundings, budding a love and respect for the living things that we share our planet with.  If you plant the seed of knowledge and respect for other living things early, and express the importance of protecting habitat so we can always enjoy the living things around us, future good stewards of the land should grow,” says Torlina.

photo 6

“Pacolet Pam,” as the kids knew her, gets the kids to focus on a nearby Mourning Dove. 

photo 7

photo 4 photo 2 photo 1 photo 5

photo 3

(Photos by Shelley Contin-Hubbs)


Land Trusts get kids out exploring and discovering nature

PAC’s Pam Torlina shares her love of nature with a presentation and hike for the Congregational Church of Tryon’s Super Sunday at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve.

What is it Noah

Super Sunday 2

(Photos by Heather Smith)


Land Trusts teach the importance of protecting our watersheds

PAC taught Watershed Ecology to Polk County 6th graders at the 4-H Science Day Camp at Bradley Field.

PAC was one of four instructors for the 4-H Science Day Camp held at Bradley Field. PAC, along with NC Forest Service, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and the Division of Air Quality, taught all of the, ~200, 6th grade students in Polk County! Polk County 6th graders spent a day in the field learning about forestry, wildlife ID, air quality, and watersheds (which PAC taught).

PAC staff, Pam Torlina, and wonderful volunteers, Christel Walter, Sue Mullen, Steve King, Cynthia Terwilliger, Nadine Naujoks, and Herb Coon, introduced students to the concept of a watershed and made them citizen scientists for the day. Students were given clip boards and data sheets and took measurements of the creek, Cove Creek, such as pH and temperature and were asked to look at the qualitative attributes in an around the creek. Then, the students had to reach into the ~45 degree creek and look for tiny organisms living in Cove Creek, benthic macroinvertebrates–bottom-dwelling organisms without a backbone that you can see with the naked eye–living in the creek. Students were taught how to identify the organisms that were found using a dichotomous key. The organisms were listed on the data sheets and were used as indicators of the health of the creek, and ultimately the health of the watershed. Good news! The watershed for Cove Creek and the water quality rating of Cove Creek is Excellent!

PAC’s Pam Torlina (right) welcomes one of the 8 groups of nearly 20 students each, seen over a two-day period and introduces PAC and watersheds to the group. PAC volunteers (from left to right) Christel Walter, Cynthia Terwilliger, Sue Mullen, Herb Coon, and Steve King are ready to get working with the 6th grade students. (photo by Nadine Naujoks)

One of the groups of Polk County Middle School 6th grade students learning about watersheds. (photo by Nadine Naujoks)

PAC’s Pam Torlina helping students find macroinvertebrates in Cove Creek. (photo by Nadine Naujoks)

PAC’s Pam Torlina working with students to identify macroinvertebrates that they found in Cove Creek. (photo by Nadine Naujoks)

PAC volunteers, Christel Walter (in the orange jacket) and Cynthia Terwilliger (in the black jacket) teaching students about water chemistry. (photo by Nadine Naujoks)

On the right, some of PAC’s wonderful volunteers that help make our programs such a success, (from left to right in the foreground) Sue Mullen, Nadine Naujoks, Cynthia Terwilliger, and Christel Walter) and a group of students in the background.

PAC also has a watershed model that teaches kids about watersheds!  We us this when we can’t get outside.

IMG_2234This photo is from a watershed program that PAC did for the Polk County Public Library’s Children’s Department and their Afternoon Adventures group!


Land Trusts teach about nature & the life we share the planet with – salamanders!

Naturalist Tim Lee and Alan Cameron presented, “Salamanders of Western North Carolina” at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve. About 25 people (adults & children) came to hear Tim talk about salamander habitat and introduce some of the 66 different salamander species that can be found in our area, and Alan highlighted the Green Salamander (Aneides aeneus), listed as Endangered in NC and a Federal Species of Concern.  Tim & Alan even brought in some live salamanders for guests to see!  IMG_3954

                                            Guests get a close-up look at salamanders.

IMG_3955 IMG_3957

  Alan Cameron shows guests a Green Salamander.                          Alan Cameron holds a Green Salamander.

IMG_3960 IMG_3963

                     Guests checking out a salamander.                                 A Red Eft, the juvenile stage of the Red-spotted Newt.


Land Trusts teach about nature & the life we share the planet with – fungi, the decomposers!

Todd Elliott presented on Fungi in the Southern Appalachians at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve.

About 50 people attended a presentation at Walnut Creek Preserve’s Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center on mushrooms, an introduction to the fascinating world of fungi in the Southern Appalachians.

Durning the presentation, Todd Elliott, a native of the mountains of western North Carolina and a student at Warren Wilson College, showed his passion about mycology and the diversity of life. Elliott’s slide show presentation displayed his talent as an award winning nature photographer. He spoke of some of his studies abroad which have led him on collecting trips from the deserts of Mexico to the snow banks of the Sierra Nevada, from the rainforests of Costa Rica and southeast Asia to the Australian back country.

After the presentation, guests were invited to join Todd for a walk around the property at Walnut Creek Preserve to look for mushrooms. Adults and children could be seen foraging for mushrooms in the woods, and Todd showed participants many different species found along the trail.

In the field with Todd Elliott, foraging for mushrooms at Walnut Creek Preserve.

In the field with Todd Elliott, foraging for mushrooms at Walnut Creek Preserve. Adults and children foraging for mushrooms at Walnut Creek Preserve.

(photos by Pam Torlina)


Land Trusts teach about nature & the life we share the planet with – birds!

PAC’s Pam Torlina did a presentation about birds to River’s Edge Summer Adventure Camp.

For River’s Edge Summer Adventure Camps “Wild” day, PAC’s Land Protection Specialist, Pam Torlina, showed campers bird specimens and talked about habitat requirements that different bird species have. Campers also looked closely at the specimens to see the different characteristics that each bird has and they learned about how those characteristics help the bird survive in its habitat.

Pam Torlina shows River’s Edge campers a Screech Owl.

*PAC has a state and federal collectors permit which allows the organization to salvage bird specimens (birds found dead on the road, from window strikes, or other casualties, abandoned nests, infertile eggs or egg shells, and feathers) and use those specimens for educational purposes.


Land Trusts teach about nature & the life we share the planet with – snakes!

Naturalist Tim Lee presented “Modern Myths and Facts about Snakes” at the Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center at Walnut Creek Preserve.

Over 70 people attended Tim Lee’s presentation on “Modern Myths and Facts about Snakes” at Walnut Creek Preserve’s Anne Elizabeth Suratt Nature Center. The packed house learned about the habits and anatomy of snakes and how some of the misconceptions, or myths, about snakes originated. Lynnea Stadelmann of the Foothills Herpentological Society even brought several Corn Snakes (Elaphe guttata) to the program for guests to see, touch, and hold…if they desired.

Presenter, Tim Lee, and Lynnea Stadelmann, of the Foothills Herpetological Society, hold Corn Snakes for participants to see. (Photo by Pam Torlina)

Tim Lee holding a Corn Snake. (photo by Pam Torlina)

Lynnea Stadelmann holding a Corn Snake for participants to touch. (photo by Pam Torlina)


Land Trusts teach about nature & the life we share the planet with – wildflowers!

Botanist David Campbell of the UNCC Herbarium presented a digital slide show on the Flora and Landscapes of the Southern Mountain Region.

Thirty-two guests joined representatives from PAC and Walnut Creek Preserve on Saturday to hear Campbell speak about the flora of our region. David expressed his interest in studying the flora in Polk County and his hopes to gather data and create herbarium specimens for the UNNC Herbarium in order to create a better floral representation of the species located in Polk County. The last extensive study/collection was done in the 1950′s! David expressed how special and unique Polk County is and showed the audience images of some species that (1) are only found in Polk County in North Carolina and (2) are only located in Polk County, globally!

Those that were interested were invited to go for a short hike with David Campbell after the presentation.

David Campbell talking about a plant on the hike (see Doug Elliott, past presenter and area naturalist, just behind him?). (photo by Pam Torlina)David Campbell talking about a plant on the hike. (photo by Pam Torlina)

David Campbell pointing out vegetation on the hike. (photo by Pam Torlina)


Land Trusts get kids out enjoying nature, hiking

PAC’s Pam Torlina for a wonderful hike to Rainbow Falls at Jones Gap State Park!

It was a beautiful day! Hikers enjoyed beautiful spring weather and sights! The wildflowers were extremely showy and we even saw some wildlife!

Hikers, from left to right: Lois Torlina, Tryon Lindabury, Emily Brock, Mary Savard, Linda Hall, Sydney Allgood, Alan Luria, Grier Allgood, Peggy Burke, Liz Dicey, Don Dicey, Carol McCall, Barbara Hall, Mark McCall, and Carolyn Parker, at the base of Rainbow Falls. (photos by Pam Torlina)

 

Salamander and Long-spurred violet on a mossy rock above     Cox Camp Creek.     Sydney and Grier Allgood along Cox Camp Creek.

  

Sydney Allgood, Barbara Hall, Emily Brock, Liz Dicey, Don Dicey, Alan Luria, and others make their way up the trail to Rainbow Falls.                      Dwarfcrested Iris.

Land Trusts teach about watersheds, macroinvertebrates & water chemistry

PAC was one of four instructors for the 4-H Science Day Camp held at Bradley Field. PAC, along with NC Forest Service, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and the Division of Air Quality, taught all of the, ~160-180, 6th grade students in Polk County! Polk County 6th graders spent a day in the field learning about forestry, wildlife ID, air quality, and watersheds (which PAC taught).

PAC staff and volunteers introduced students to the concept of a watershed and made them citizen scientists for the day. Students were given clip boards and data sheets and took measurements of the creek, Cove Creek, such as pH and temperature and were asked to look at the qualitative attributes in an around the creek. Then, the students had to reach into the ~38 degree creek and look for tiny organisms living in Cove Creek, benthic macroinvertebrates–bottom-dwelling organisms without a backbone that you can see with the naked eye–living in the creek. Students were taught how to identify the organisms that were found using a dichotomous key. The organisms were listed on the data sheets and were used as indicators of the health of the creek, and ultimately the health of the watershed. Good news! The watershed for Cove Creek and the water quality rating of Cove Creek is Excellent!

 PAC teaching a group of Polk County 6th graders about watersheds.

 Students keying out a macroinvertebrate with PAC Land Protection Specialist, Pam Torlina.

We found and identified Mayfly Larva (above), as well as Stonefly Larvae, Caddisfly Larvae, Cranefly Larvae, Gilled Snails, Waterpenny Larvae, and Crayfish, to name a few. Vertebrates included salamanders and a Green Frog.

 Students learning water chemistry with PAC volunteer, Judith Gosser.

Special thanks to PAC volunteers Judith Gosser (PAC Education Committee), Christel Walter (PAC Education Committee), Sue Mullen (PAC Board Member and Land Committee), and Steve King who spent all day November 1st and 2nd outside in the field educating the 6th graders of Polk County Schools!

(Morning temperatures were in the mid-30′s! Creek temperature averaged ~38°! Talk about dedication and commitment!)              

Click here to see why conservation should be important to kids.

Click here for a Guide to Hiking with Kids

Check out the new, free, and downloadable publication, “The Field Guide to the Southern Piedmont”!

Field Guide to the Southern Piedmont“The Field Guide to the Southern Piedmont” is a picture-based identification guide to over 700 species in the Carolinas and Georgia and it includes common animals, plants, fungi, slime molds, animal tracks, skulls and bones, rocks, minerals, and nature sounds.

Jonathan J. Storm, Briget C. Doyle, Rachel V. Furman, Julie M. Smoak, & Melissa A. Storm, at USC Upstate created the field guide to help the general public, particularly kids, easily identify and learn about common organisms they may encounter in their backyard or while hiking a local trail or greenway here in the Piedmont.

It can be downloaded as an eBook for free to any electronic device from www.uscupstate.edu/fieldguide and the picture for most species will hyperlink to a reputable website with natural history information.

Please feel free to use and share the guide, as the authors hope that it will help people get active outdoors and learn about their natural environment!