Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Take Me Outside

We were thrilled to be a part of Colin's journey. Colin spent a day in Red Deer giving talks at Annie L. Gaetz elementary, G.W. Smith elementary and West Park Middle schools. He also did a tour of the Nature Centre and had lunch with a couple of the interpreters.

Here at the Nature Centre we have been dedicated to sharing the outdoors with children, for 25 years. With all the new initiatives in preschool and kindergarten outdoor-classes, it is worth noting that the Nature Centre's Nature Nursery program has been an outdoor program for nearly 20 years. Our kids spend 1/2 of their time, each day, exploring the Sanctuary's forests, fields and ponds. In May, June and September, when the weather is a little more forgiving, Nature Nursery is an entirely outdoor program.

Kids need to be outside. There is a growing mountain of evidence to support the idea that the 53-hours/week of screen time that North American kids are getting (outside of school hours) is doing more harm than good. We're seeing increased rates of childhood obesity, increased rates of ADD/ADHD and a increase in the psychological distance between people and nature. Our own research - conducted by Jim Roberston as part of his Masters thesis - indicates that kids who are exposed to early nature-based education develop into more environmentally-aware citizens. They exhibit more empathy for nature and for natural environments.

So to Colin: Congratulations. We are inspired by your run and I am personally, proud to call you my friend. To the nature-educators around the world: Keep doing what you do. The children of today and the natural environments of the future are depending on you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

CSAs and our upcoming fundraiser

Todd posted about our Harvest Lunch fundraiser the other day, and I just thought I'd add a couple of links for those who might be interested in learning more about Community-Supported Agriculture, or CSAs.

Briefly put, CSAs are a fantastic way to enjoy seasonal, locally-grown veggies (and sometimes fruits as well, depending on the farm). By buying a share of the farm's crop for the season, you're helping to directly support a local farmer as well as ensuring that the produce on your table is about as fresh as it could possibly be. Most CSAs grow organically or pesticide free as well, and work hard to use environmentally sustainable farming methods.

Our lunch guest speaker, Mike Kozlowski of Steel Pony Farm, will be able to give lots more information on the workings of a CSA farm. And with a wonderful harvest lunch from Remi's Catering, I'm sure that everyone will have a fantastic time.

For more information about CSAs, check out this link. And if you'd like to find a CSA near you (yes, we have several CSAs right here in Central Alberta), you can find listings here.

For information on and tickets for our November 4th fundraiser, give us a call at 403-346-2010.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Late Season Visitor

There are animals we expect to see at this time of year. Moose, deer, foxes, the last few Coots, spiders and the year-round birds are all familiar sights in and around the Sanctuary. One of the things that we don't expect, is a butterfly; especially when it's clinging to the screen on the inside of a window.

Yet, that's exactly what we found this morning.

This Comma (we think - it won't open its wings to allow us to see the colours) Butterfly has taken up residence on the inside screen of the windows in the programmers'-space here at the Nature Centre. It's not surprising that it's still alive; Commas overwinter as adults. It is surprising that it's indoors and not hiding in a woodpile or buried under leaf litter somewhere. At some point we'll likely have to catch it and move it. While they will overwinter, they do it in hibernation.

If you have an interesting nature sighting, email it to us at

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our Fall Fundraiser

Join us at our Fall Fundraiser. This Heritage Lunch is being prepared by Remi's Catering and will feature soup, salad, main course and dessert with coffee/tea. Mike Kozlowski of Steel Pony Farms will be our guest speaker.

Tickets are $50. Please call the Nature Centre at 403-346-2010 or drop by for a visit and purchase your tickets.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Great green things happening this weekend in Red Deer!

Tonight, Friday, October 14, sees the start of a fun, green weekend in Red Deer. As I type, the Trash to Treasure Swap Meet is underway, here at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. We've been seeing great stuff come in all evening and still have the weekend left to go. There's no telling what wonderful items will show up and at a great price too: FREE! Bring it if you've got it, browse what's here, then take whatever catches your eye. We're open until 7 p.m. tonight, then from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. You don't need to bring something in to be able to take something: the idea is to find homes for all the still useful but unwanted items.

Following what seems to be Red Deer's theme this weekend, the City is urging you to Kick it to the Curb. This initiative encourages you to label your unwanted items "FREE" and put them curbside. Take a drive around town this weekend: you never know what treasures you'll find!

'Til next time...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Watch for Wildlife

Ok, while they aren't foaming at the mouth and racing around the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary on a skateboards, it is that time of the year when the moose and deer in the area are more concerned about finding and attracting a member of the opposite sex, than they are about staying away from people, other animals and mostly-public spaces. While the picture above is funny, it is meant as a reminder that moose and deer - particularly the males - are aggressive at this time of year and should be avoided.

As the females come into season the males become completely fixated on finding them and, well, showing off. The objective of course, is to be the successful male who gets to mate.

So, as you are walking and riding on the Waskasoo Park trails and exploring the various park nodes this fall, please keep your eyes open for moose and deer. They aren't out to get you and they aren't going to try to hurt you. They're just really preoccupied with other things and the hormones racing through their systems makes them potentially more aggressive.

Just imagine what they'd get up to if they could ride a skateboard.

Our thanks to Joe Whitbread for the drawing. You can follow Joe on Twitter @joewhitbread. Find his ink drawings with the tag #twitbreadbyrequest

Monday, October 03, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend Happenings at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre

Thanksgiving is a weekend to enjoy time together with family and friends; why not add the Kerry Wood Nature Centre to your list of festive to-dos?

On Friday, October 7, we will be hosting a First Friday for the Red Deer Pottery Club and their exhibit titled "Aurora Borealis of the Earth". Join us between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. for refreshments and a look at some amazing Raku fired pottery.

Saturday, October 8, is our Sanctuary Stroll & Social. This event is an adults-only evening out hiking the 4.0 km trail, followed by refreshments and mingling. Cost is $15 + gst/members; $17 + gst/non-members. It runs from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. and may even present us a chance for some nighttime wildlife encounters! Pre-registration is required.

Sunday the 9th brings October's edition of the Family Planetarium. Join us at 1:00 p.m. for a guided tour of the fall constellations. Show starts at 1:10, runs for approximately 50 minutes, and the cost is $3/person or $10/family at the door.

For more information on, or to register for, these or any of our fall events please call the Kerry Wood Nature Centre at 403-346-2010.