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The concept of wildschooling and how to incorporate it in your vacation and summer camps

What is wildschooling?

Homeschooling has been gaining popularity throughout the world. Some of the reasons for this rising trend has been the increasing cost of attending school and parents being more progressive about what they want their kids to learn. It is certainly not an easy task and not for every parent to do. It requires a high level of commitment, patience, and dedication to homeschool your kids. There is another schooling concept that has been gaining popularity but might not be that well known. It is called wildschooling and it means allowing children to explore the outdoors and bond with nature. The kids of the modern world can be stuck in the concrete jungle of sky-scrappers and be more interested in spending their day in front of a television. The inspiration for the concept of wildschooling has come from different sources including forest school and summer camps in the wild.

Wildschooling is an open concept with no defined parameters. That means, for every family, wildschooling could be different. The basic idea is to let the kids engage and immerse with Mother Nature in whatever ways they want to. Mother Nature doesn’t have to the forest or mountains, it could just be the backyard of the house, as long as it is outside with some natural environment, it could be used for wildschooling. The idea of wildschooling is not exclusive, it can be combined with other homeschooling activities to make for a rich learning experience for the kids. Kids of any age can start wildschooling although the younger they are, the more easily they will adapt to the environment. That means you can have academic lessons combined with environmental awareness lessons. The core objective behind wildschooling is to instill the importance and value of the wild so the kids are lifelong supporters of the environment. With the ongoing climate change crisis, kids need to have a greater sense of responsibility and care for the wild than what their elders have shown. If the kids of now don’t fall in the love with nature and struggle to protect it, there might not be much of nature left when they grow up.

How to incorporate wildschooling in your vacations and summer camps?

As parents, you have a great opportunity to use your vacation time or summer camps to introduce wildschooling to your kids. Most of us are surrounded by natural resources such as trees, rivers, mountains, beaches, etc. It is up to parents to plan their vacations in such a way that these natural resources become part of the fun. These wildschooling vacations can also be friendly on the wallet. They can certainly be less expensive than a family trip to Europe. Buying a set of kayaks for the river that you can use every time you go the river might be a better value proposition than a one-time ticket to Paris.

If you have the time, you can take it one step further and plan for a few days camping in a natural habitat such as a forest or mountain. Your family might not get the regular “luxuries” such as taking a hot shower every day or eating fast food but what your family will experience is the alluring peace of nature. The way you bring up your children is the greatest gift you can give them. By no means, wildschooling is the only concept that should be considered. The idea is to explore the world out there. There might be a different concept that is better suited for your needs. However, don’t let your kids fall into the rat race of academic and corporate competition that most of the world has fallen into.

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Culture

Newly Discovered Flower Blooms Atop One of the World’s RAREST Trees

Renee Yates

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The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis is known by locals for the intense work performed by the experts inside. When a small purple-and-white flower began to grow within their greenhouse, the team of experts at the Missouri Botanical Garden were confused. From their perspective, they were seeing something brand new – a completely fresh discovery.

Discovery on May 3rd

Justin Lee is a senior horticulturist at the Missouri Botanical Garden, and he was performing regular work on a Karomia Gigas sapling in the greenhouse when he first stumbled upon the rare purple-and-white flower. The Karomia Gigas is a tree from Africa with close relations to the mint plant. An endangered tree species in Africa, Justin was confused by the flower that had grown nearly an inch in length atop the tree.

Lee says of his discovery, “It’s a bit odd for a mint flower. It seems flipped inside out.”

The flower measured an inch in length with a strong halo of purple petals, sloping gently downward toward white stamens bearing pollen. According to Lee, the mint family likes to put out tube-styled flowers in an attempt to attract bees, butterflies, and moths. Lee also suggests that the tree can self-pollinate if necessary.

As the discovery made headlines around the city, the researchers at Missouri’s Botanical Garden are preparing for more blooms in the future. Research has suggested that more Karomia Gigas flowers will grow at the greenhouse and it is then that their scientific research will really begin. Lee and his team are focused on successfully cultivating cross-pollination, thus improving the survivability of the plant in the world. At the time of this writing, only about two dozen of the Karomia Gigas trees can be found in the wilds throughout Tanzania.

The Wilds of Tanzania

At the time of this writing, the Karomia Gigas is considered so rare as to not even have a local Tanzanian nickname, nor is there an English one. What little is broadly known about the Karomia is that it can grow in straight stretches for up to 80 feet, limiting branch exposure until nearly halfway to its final height. As a result of its odd, stick-like growth, finding these unseen flower blooms has been harder than you might anticipate!

Roy Gereau is a program director for Tanzania at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Surprised but not shocked by the flower, Gereau was quick to admit that the bloom was new. Gereau said of the rare flower, “There certainly is no record of the flowers in scientific literature.”

More important than discovering the flower, researchers in Missouri believe that they can maintain the health of the newly bloomed petals to prevent them from disappearing. Andrew Wyatt is the VP of Horticulture at the Missouri Botanical Garden, and he said, “We can make sure the species doesn’t go extinct.”

It has been a challenge to grow the plant in Missouri, as has been repeated by researchers at the facility. Seeds had been collected in 2018 from a series of Tanzanian field expeditions. These seeds were shipped to St. Louis where only around 100 were thought to be viable. To make things even more difficult, it was a task to match Tanzanian growing conditions within greenhouses in Missouri.

Despite the challenges that they had to face, it looks like the Karomia is finding solid footing within St. Louis. With some momentum and optimism on their side, what’s next?

Andrew Wyatt said of the rare blooming flower and of his own future, “We were debating whether it would even flower in our careers.”

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Quirky New Zealand Bird Begins Recovery From Brink of Extinction

Renee Yates

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With bright lime green plumage, striking eyes, and a massive build, the New Zealand Kakapo is considered the largest ground-dwelling parrot on the planet Earth. If that description doesn’t get you at least a little bit excited about the kakapo, nothing will!

Endemic to New Zealand, the Kakapo has been considered endangered and on the brink of extinction since the late 1890s. Beginning with the Kakapo Recovery Programme of 1995, modern conservationists would begin to note more significant strides in their efforts.

Before delving into the rehabilitation of the quirky kakapo, let’s take a moment to learn a little more about these fantastic creatures.

How Quirky IS The Kakapo

A cursory glance at New Zealand’s favorite flightless parrot would reveal an animal made at odds with itself. Massive yet flightless, brightly colored yet nocturnal, the kakapo has enjoyed an almost legendary status within New Zealand’s borders and, more specifically, Maori culture. Revered as a source of meat and for its beautiful plumage, the kakapo has a rich history with the local people.

As the only living species of parrot that can’t fly, the kakapo instead relies on its strong legs to travel miles a day. Excellent as climbers, kakapo will use their forest-themed feathers to remain camouflaged while hunting, hiding, or sleeping.

Andrew Digby has been working closely with the Kakapo population through his work as a conservation biologist for the Department of Conservation. Digby has grown to appreciate the definitive personalities and unique lifestyles that the kakapo lead. Digby says, “They’re more like mammals… maybe like badgers.”

As a conservationist for one of New Zealand’s most revered institutes, Digby has gotten to spend plenty of time with the local kakapo population. He says of his efforts that their personalities become more defined the longer you work with them. Digby says, “Some may shout at you a lot. Some are really friendly and will approach you.”

An Endangered Species

The kakapo began its precipitous descent toward extinction in the fourteenth century, coinciding with the arrival of the Maori people. As we’ve touched upon above, the Maori people see the kakapo as not just culturally important, but also as a form of resource. Their feathers, meat, and even companionship were all revered by the Maori people.

Unfortunately, an affinity for the kakapo would also lead to its decline toward extinction. As the Maori settled into the region, building homes and wiping land for farms, kakapo would begin to experience habitat reduction. This reduction in habitat was further exacerbated by the arrival of rats from the very same ships that the Maori had arrived upon. Rats would quickly become a primary predator to the kakapo, devouring not just eggs but chicks as well.

By the time that Europeans would land ashore of New Zealand in the 19th Century, the Kakapo had already been verging on extinction throughout the islands. This didn’t stop European settlers from trapping, killing, collecting, and selling kakapo to willing buyers. By the time that 1995 rolled around, only 51 birds were left in known existence.

The 1995 Kakapo Recovery Programme has been working steadily since its introduction, collecting and protecting the remaining living kakapo in off-shore environments. Visitors to the Kakapo Recovery Programme must undergo an extensive quarantining process after having all of their food and luggage carefully inspected. Every bird on the island is tagged and named so that the conservationists can closely follow breeding sites throughout the region. New eggs are often moved to artificial environments where they are incubated before being returned to the nest. While the real egg is away, the kakapo mother will be left with a ‘smart egg’ that mimics egg behavior.

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Retired Bike Program Finds New Life in Charlotte as Travel Service For Homeless

Kelly Taylor

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As the weather warms up and COVID-19 continues to become a thing of the past, the world will try and shift to normalcy again. For residents of Charlotte, NC, a return to normalcy will have to occur without the help of Charlotte B-Cycles, the rental blue bike-share service that has been providing rides to the city for years. Phased out for an impressive electric-assisted fleet, the city of Charlotte had to decide what to do with the 250+ retired bicycles from its old fleet and this is where our story begins.

Let’s explore how the city of Charlotte decided to recycle old bikes to bring new life to the city for those who need help the most.

Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle: Old Fleets Find New Life

Charlotte’s B-Cycles may have been taken away to be replaced with an electric-focused fleet called Charlotte Joy Rides, but that doesn’t mean that their days of use are over. In fact, the old retired bikes now belong to a pair of volunteer teams from Roof in the Inn and Trips for Kids, two local non-profits dedicated to providing assistance to homeless residents.

Taking the old bikes, the volunteer groups from Room in the Inn and Trips for Kids would acquire the bikes with the intention of repurposing them. Dick Winters, a cycling enthusiast and volunteer at the program, pointed out that transportation is a rather significant barrier to individuals dealing with homelessness. Winters also argues that a lack of available and affordable transportation can fundamentally damage acquiring employment and, fundamentally, independence from poverty. This mindset has been echoed tirelessly by Cedric Mack, supervisor of the Roof Above shelter on Statesville Avenue.

The goal of this joint initiative is to bring transportation to the people who need it the most, giving them the metaphorical keys to their traveling needs. The job has been undertaken by a tireless team of excited volunteers to help those who are most at-risk. Mack says that some of the homeless individuals he works with end up at the bus stop by “4 AM” just to get a ride for errands or to apply for jobs.

Charlotte, Charity, and the Houseless Crisis

So far, volunteers for the program have effectively refurbished 27 bikes. These 27 bikes have already been dispatched to users from the Roof Above program as well as shelters around the area. A pair of bikes would go to a recently homeless family while other bikes have gone to individuals to assist in their independence and traveling efforts. This is a marked difference from the last round of old bikes that ended up sold for scrap, thrown into landfills, or stuck into art installations.

Jonathan Wells has been one of the active pair of hands working on repairing the bikes. Wells was brought to the non-profit after hearing about it through his church. Wells points out that the repair efforts are helping people to attain a “greater degree” of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Wells went on to say that it would be “Mission Accomplished” if his work helps someone to get a job, get back on their feet, and find a place to live.

At the time of this writing, a 2021 study published by WSOCTV revealed that roughly 3,000 homeless individuals live in the Charlotte, NC area.

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Rehabilitation Facility Ushers in ‘Healing Forest’, Planted by Indigenous Inmates

Kelly Taylor

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Found in the heart of Washington State is the Yakama Nation Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility, one of the first projects introduced through the DOJ’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This adult and juvenile facility is designed to do more than meet the needs of the region, it also has a unique way of addressing rehabilitation through outdoor projects — including the healing forest.

At the heart of this restorative project are the inmates who identify with and want to embrace their culture and identity. A member of the Yakama Nation, Marylee Smunitee Jones has also been a vocal leader for the healing forest campaign that has been gaining nationwide attention. Jones has worked alongside Ethan Bryson, forest maker and founder of Sugi, to get their ambitious project off of the ground. Jones said that the identity of Yakama Nation lay with the plants, “They show us that it’s okay to be unique.”

After successfully organizing the healing forest project, Bryson and his team would successfully enter the second phase of the plan. This would lead to more than 5,000 native trees successfully entering the ground, incorporating more than 36 species spanning medicinal and non-medicinal plants alike.

In order to find so much success getting plants in the ground, Sugi has followed the Miyawaki method for planting. This method originally took root in Japan where it focused on the diverse planting of species in a confined space. Elise Van Middelem is the founder of Sugi and also one of the leading voices in the company. Speaking on the Miyawaki method Elise would say that this method was “30 times denser, featured16 times more carbon, and was100 times more biodiverse”

Impact of the Healing Forest

While much of today’s discussion has been focused on the sheer volume of plants and the efficacy of the workflow, the effect that the healing forest has had supersedes even these boundaries. An anonymous inmate spoke about the project saying, “It feels great. It makes my heart feel really good.” Other inmates discussed how they would be able to show their kids the massive garden in the future when they finish their sentence.

Even though the impact of the healing forest has been immeasurable to the inmates, it also highlighted an important prospect to discuss on a global scale. According to a 2019 report published at Global Forest Watch, more than 12 million hectares of tropical forest were destroyed in that year alone. Developments surrounding green projects like the healing forest are going to become increasingly welcomed as environmentalism takes center stage on a global scale.

Another initiative operating out of 1t.org would get unveiled during the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos. The goal of the platform is to help the world plant an additional 1 trillion trees by the end of 2030.

Marylee Smunitee Jones says of the Healing Forest and its importance, “We all have our own medicines and that the healing forest is needed… it is needed very much.”

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Lowest 48 States See Proliferation in Bald Eagle Population

Renee Yates

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The bald eagle is a symbol of independence, courage, and strength in the United States. Who’d have guessed that a bird of such importance was on the brink of extinction just a few years ago?

Bald eagles have three or four times the vision of humans. They can fly up to 35 miles per hour and dive for prey at even higher speeds.

The bald eagle’s name comes from the Old English word balde, that demonstrates white; the eagle’s white head contrasts with its dark body, giving it the appearance of being bald. In the wild, the bald eagle survives for 20 to 30 years.

According to government scientists, the volume of American bald eagles has grown exponentially by about four times the 2009 number, now at a high of over 300,000 birds currently flying over forty-eight states.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced that bald eagles, a national icon that was once on the verge of extinction, have soared in recent years, with over 71,400 breeding pairs and an estimated 316,700 individual birds.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland praised the eagle’s comeback in her first public appearance since taking office recently, noting that the magnificent bird with its white head has been deemed as sacred to Native American tribes and the country as a whole for eons.

The strong recovery of this beloved bird allows everyone to recollect the country’s collective resilience, in addition to the value of being responsible guardians of the lands and waters that unite us, said Haaland, the first Native American Cabinet secretary.

In 1963, the number of documented breeding pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states reached a record low of over four hundred.

The bald eagle population has continued to expand through decades of protection, including the banning of the pesticide DDT.

They have also been included on the list of endangered species in more than forty states. In 2007, the bald eagle was delisted as an at-risk or endangered species.

The bald eagle community is thriving, according to Haaland, who described the bird’s recovery as a “success story” that “testifies to the enduring value of the work of Interior Department researchers and conservationists.”

This work would not have been possible without numbers of individuals accumulating and evaluating many years of scientific data… precisely estimating the population of bald eagles in the United States.

The bald eagle’s birthday is also an excellent time to remember the Endangered Species Act, which is a critical tool in the fight to save America’s wildlife, according to Haaland. The landmark 1973 law is necessary to counter the extinction of species like the bald eagle and American bison, he says.

According to Haaland, her unit would investigate measures taken by the Trump regime to weaken core aspects of the threatened species law, reiterating a promise made by President Joe Biden.

She didn’t go into detail, but environmentalists and Democratic lawmakers have chastised the Trump administration for a number of decisions, including decreasing vital territory needed by the northern spotted owl and removing gray wolf safeguards.

The bald eagle is a raptor (bird of prey) that are located at the food chain’s helm. It captures prey by darting over broad landscape or water with its sharply curved talons. It also absorbs the dead animals’ bodies (carrion).

Eagles are carnivores (mmeat-eaters who hunt throughout the daytime (diurnal) from a high perch. Older eagles have a small range of hunters. Small bald eagles are preyed upon by owls. Fish, small rodents, snakes, as well as other birds are among their favorite foods.

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