Ultimate Summer School Lessons

The last two sessions of the JPS Summer School were this week.  Last month we did aquatic studies, so this time we went out into the fields, looking at wildflowers and sweeping for insects.

While a few of the kids were reluctant to go into the tall grasses, especially today because it had rained and everything was quite wet, some dove right in and were terribly excited with their finds.

Yesterday grasshoppers, large and small, were the big hit.

Today’s great find was this beautiful garter snake.  It was incredibly dark, with orange along its sides.  Michigan is home to three species of garter snakes:  eastern garter (this is the one I know), Butler’s garter, and the northern ribbon snake.  To tell them apart, you need to count scales and make note of the position of the side stripes.  I no longer have the snake in hand, so I have no way to tell you which one this is.  Now that I know, however, I will make sure to count scales the next time!

I was happy to see the ironweed now in bloom.  In fact, there is a LOT of it in bloom right now.  It makes for a lovely dark purple splash on the prairie.

We had one lone blazing star, or Liatris, in bloom.  We were hoping the burn this spring stimulated the growth of more of these plants.  We’ll have to take a closer look next week.

Some of the students were having a ball wandering through the tall grasses.  These boys were excited to tell me of the rabbit they saw jump out of the grasses ahead of them.

All too soon it was time to return for the bus.  We made some acorn cap whistles on the walk back – a good time was had by all.

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About Dahlem Center

The Dahlem Center is a non-profit nature center/environmental education center located on almost 300 acres just south of the city of Jackson, Michigan. The Center is one arm of the Dahlem Conservancy, which includes land conservancy and stewardship in its mission.
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