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Pioneers Parks Nature Center Newsletter, August 2010
It has been a busy summer at the Nature Center. Fall is almost upon us. During most of September and October, Lincoln Public School fourth grade classes will spend the day exploring the prairie with our staff as part of the Prairie Immersion experience. In addition many younger students will investigate changing seasons, life cycles, animals and their habitats and other topics. 

Nature Preschool and Pre-K classes will begin on September 7th.  The hayrack will be hitched to the tractor for another season of nature-related rides, and Howling Halloween activities will make their debut.  We will be offering many other programs as well so visit our website for a full listing.

Fall is a wonderful time to experience the beauty of prairie.  Come out and take a walk among the tall grasses.
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Support of School Tour Program 
Since nearly the beginning of its inception in 1963, Pioneers Park Nature Center has provided guided natural science hikes to Lincoln school children free of charge.  Beginning this fall a fee of $3/student/1.5 hour hike was to have been initiated.  However, the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District (LPSNRD) has generously agreed to provide up to $20,000 to support this program for the 2010-11 school year.  LPSNRD sees great value in providing environmental education and this is one way that goal can be supported.   
The LPSNRD agrees to provide funding in the amount of $2.00 per student for students that attend the half-day School Tour Program at the Nature Center.  This support will be for all students that attend and live within the LPSNRD's area of taxing authority.  These funds will be matched by $1.00 per student from the Friends of the Pioneers Park Nature Center and other donations.
We are most grateful to both organizations for the support that will allow us to make this valuable experience available for no cost to many schools this year.
Camp Discovery

On a Hike

Sixty five children three to six year olds hiked, enjoyed a puppet show, made crafts and special snacks while exploring a variety of topics during Camp Discovery.

During Fantastic Flying Feathers, the kids visited our bird garden, listened to the songs of various birds while reading a special story, ate snacks such as grape jelly like an oriole, gummy worms like a robin and also cheerios like the robin's song.  The highlight was seeing a rose-breasted grosbeak up close at a visit with our bird banders.

Comparing damsel and dragonflies and discovering the spittle bugs' frothy hiding places, lots of insects and spiders and even five tree frogs in the very same place was part of our Many-legged Friends.

During Thank you, Trees the children met several special native trees. They had a picnic in a secret spot beneath some linden trees and were impressed with the fact that some trees, such as cottonwood and red cedars have male and female trees.

Reptile Rap
brought the discovery of a turtle under our bridge, comparing many of our snakes, and counting out the mice needed to feed them.

Girl with Turtle
Three graduates from the Nature Center Preschool volunteered an extra pair of hands and eyes.  It is special to young campers to have the example of leadership, stewardship and enthusiasm
from these talented young people.
Animal Antics
During Wednesday mornings in June and July over 300 children and their parents came to the Nature Center for the Animal Antics drop-in program. Each week they had the chance to learn about a different group of animals and had the opportunity to lift an elk antler (just imagine what it must be like to carry that weight around!), see a merlin up close, touch a snake or try to catch a frog.
Wilderness Nature Camp
WNC BikersIn the Creek

Special discoveries were a part of every week for our 226 campers no matter what theme they were exploring.  Children built forts in magic spots, went creeking, played water games, collected insects, created with clay, hid geocaches for others to find, built an underground hideout, enjoyed a visit from the Nature Center barn owl, and learned nature photography tips. One summer highlight is always searching for fossils at a southeast Nebraska rock quarry.  For two weeks, bikers explored Wilderness Park and surrounding trails.  Camper's imaginations went wild as they dreamed up hilarious skits about their experiences to share with their parents at the end of each week.
Twenty five Junior Counselors developed leadership skills, went canoeing, and created leaf imprint pendants during their training week, and then led games and songs and encouraged participation during subsequent weeks of camp.

Thirty eight campers received scholarships due to the generosity of the following:
            Friends of Pioneers Park Nature Center - $642
            Lincoln Cares - $550
            Friends of Wilderness Park - $270
Herbal Festival
Herb Garden Fountain
Herb Garden Fountain
Over sixty people tasted a variety of herbal treats, learned about the medicinal properties of various very common herbs, experimented with a host of lavender skin care products and got tips on planting an aesthetically pleasing and very useful herb container garden during this summer's Herbal Festival.  A highlight of the day was the dedication of the Louise Evans Doole Herb Garden's fountain created by Carl Weiss of Springfield, Nebraska, commissioned by the Doole family, and dedicated to the volunteers whose labors have kept the garden beautiful and instructive over the years.
New Vulture Cage
The Nature Center's educational vulture is getting a new home right next to the bald eagle. This extraordinary bird, that seems to thrive on showing people its large wingspan, will now be on exhibit thanks to the generosity of Dave Titterington of Wild Bird Habitat Stores ($1000) who often takes this bird on outreach programs, and Rivers Metal Products.

Nature Center Gardens
Volunteers continue to make the Nature Center a colorful and informative place to visit.  The herb garden is a feast for the eyes and nose, the prairie gardens change constantly as the season progresses, the green roof is now easily visible as one walks down to the prairie building from the parking lot, the preschool butterfly garPrairie Gardenden is a splash of color and the small, new animal garden by the birthday house contains such native plants as dogbane, beebalm, butterfly milkweed, spiderwort, catnip and wild cranesbill.  Thanks to all our volunteers.
Malinovskis Auditorium
Are you looking for a place to hold a meeting or offer a program? Consider renting the auditorium in the Prairie Building.  Close to the city but away from the rush, there are large windows overlooking a pond and our elk, and plenty of trails and gardens to explore between sessions.

Cindy Heider Kaliff, LMHP, has chosen the space to offer an inspirational day that combines nature and heightening intuition and instinctual capabilities on October 2.  Call 402-421-7206 for more information.
Featured on the Prairie Building Art Wall 
Insect Quilts by Phyllis Higley
Dressed for Dinner
Dressed for Dinner
From Phyllis Higley's artist statement: "As a biologist, I'm drawn to images from nature, including insects. I often draw on images from my husband's photography. In my quilting I try to produce images that are anatomically correct but have attitude. Insects, in their small size, are often overlooked by people. My response is to focus on some detail of these otherwise inconspicuous beings.

In "Dressed for Dinner" I took a whimsical approach to my rendering of a robber fly. Against the very neutral background of the salt flat, I've created a sparkling, vibrant fly."
Thank You 
  • Given in honor of Irene Alexander
    - Margaret Moravec - $100
  • Memorials for Judy Fletcher
    - Garth Fletcher - $100
    - Fat Pat's Pizza & Subs, Inc. - $50
    - Marcella Leybold - $20
  • Irene and George Alexander
    - Ranger Ricks for preschool
  • Judi Cook
    - clay flower pots and saucers for preschool
    - historic tin cup for Hudson cabin
  • Scott Clarke Family
    - 3 floor puzzles, preschool books
  • Todd Miller Family
    - preschool books
  • Kathie Putensen
    - preschool books
  • Jim Starck
    - black oil sunflower seed
  • Terry Ager
    - kestrel box
Hudson Cabin Comes to the Nature Center
The Hudson Cabin, built in 1863, was moved from the former State Fair Park to Pioneers Park Nature Center on June 22, 2010. The Hudson Cabin was built by Thomas Jefferson Hudson south of the village of Lancaster, which later became Lincoln. At the time his only true neighbors were living in two dugouts on Salt Creek. The cabin was built from oak logs brought in from Germantown (now Garland), milled flooring lumber came from Nebraska City and the luxury of wood shingles came from McKisick's Island east of the Missouri River northeast of Peru, Nebraska.  (Thanks to Jim KcKee for this historical information.)

The cabin was noted as being the 'largest and grandest house, and the only shingled roof upon the whole site of [Lancaster] out on Salt Creek.'  Remember that when you come out to take a look!

Moving services for the Hudson Cabin were donated by Williams Midwest Housemovers of Hastings, Nebraska.  Embury Construction donated the foundation and will replace the roof.

Repairs are in progress.  The cabin will be used for the LPS 4th grade Prairie Immersion program, and will be open to the public on special occasions.

2010 rain barrel auction       2010 rain barrel auction
    Hudson Cabin Arrives                 Hudson Cabin in place
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Pioneers Park Nature Center

Did you know...

The Nature Center has been a leader in environmental education since 1963.  We have three sessions of Nature Preschool and two sessions of Pre-K, one of the first nature preschools in the United States. Each year we give 12,000 school children a memorable experience of the out-of-doors during school hikes.