2013-2014: Knowing and Caring Connect us with Nature
PLEASE NOTE: Tickets are $35 and must be purchased or reserved in advance by Friday, May 9. See details below
The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN), founded in the spring of 1988, will hold their fifth annual Spring Gathering on Thursday May 15th. The evening will include a banquet and a keynote presentation entitled Caterpillars Talk and Butterflies Listen which will be given by Dr. Jayne Yack, acoustic ecologist at Carleton University.
Once thought to be both deaf and mute, we now know that caterpillars can talk and butterflies can listen. During their daily activities these creatures communicate via a wide range of sounds and vibrations. Caterpillars send signals to defend territories or to startle predators. Butterflies eavesdrop on predators. Tap into the secret communication channels of the acoustic sensory world of insects and meet translator, Dr. Yack.
Dr. Jayne Yack connects with a spectacular Blue Morpho butterfly
MVFN’s Spring Gathering will take place Thursday May 15, 2014 at the Almonte Civitan Community Hall, 500 Almonte St., just west of Highway 29, in Almonte. The reception will begin at 6:00 pm with a chance to meet, share a drink, and chat with friends. The banquet commences at 6:45 and will be followed by the featured presentation at approximately 8 pm. Tickets are $35 and must be purchased or reserved in advance by Friday, May 9. Tickets may be purchased in Almonte at Gilligallou Bird Inc., 14 Mill St. Unit 3 (613-461-7333), in Carleton Place at Read’s Book Shop, 135 Bridge St. (613-257-7323), in Lanark at New Runway Clothing, 46 George St. (613-259-5677), and in Perth at The Office, 11 Wilson St. (267-2172). For more information or to reserve your tickets for pick up at the venue on May 15th please contact MVFN’s Brenda Boyd (; 613-256-2706)
The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ natural history lecture series provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the natural world of our local Mississippi Valley watershed.
You do not need to be an expert to enjoy these lectures, just a curiosity and fascination for the natural world. Lectures are held on the third Thursday of January-April and September-November at the Almonte United Church Social Hall at 106 Elgin St. in Almonte, Ontario. An 8th lecture presentation also takes place on the third Thursday of May (at the Almonte Civitan Hall or as announced) as part of our annual “Spring Gathering” event.
Details of upcoming lectures will be posted under upcoming events, and will be posted on our new calendar once the new website theme is launched.
The theme for this years’ 2013-2014 lecture series is “Knowing and Caring Connect us with Nature”
When is a Raven not a Raven? Learn from Field Naturalists’ next lecture
By Cathy Keddy
The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ (MVFN) 2013-2014 public lecture series, Knowing and Caring Connect Us with Nature, continues April 17 with its final presentation, “When is a Raven not a Raven?”. Anyone who possesses a curiosity or appreciation for wild nature will enjoy these lectures. Parents, teachers, cottagers, hunters, fishermen, canoeists, hikers, campers, artists, and seasoned field naturalists alike will find something to interest them as we explore Lanark County’s natural heritage and how best to protect it for future generations. Refreshments are offered at each lecture.
The speaker at MVFN’s next meeting will be Dr. Jeff Skevington, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and an adjunct professor at both Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. Jeff is a taxonomist—someone who describes and classifies new species. Taxonomists classify and organize species in an orderly way which helps us to understand how they are related to one another. They also inform us about the key features of each species that help us identify them.
An Araripe Manakin—a spectacular new bird species discovered in NE Brazil and described in 1998. We have described 1.2 million species of living things, but millions more await discovery and description, many even in our back yards (photo courtesy Ketil Knudsen)
Jeff will take us into his world to explore just what is involved with discovering and describing new species. From field work to microscopes to DNA sequencing, the study of taxonomy (the science of naming organisms) and its related discipline, phylogenetics (the science of reconstructing the events that have led to the distribution and diversity of species), have changed a lot since the days of Darwin or Linnaeus. Despite hundreds of years of history, there remains a lot to be discovered and sorted out.
Did you know that over 1500 species of new birds have been added to the world list in just the last 20 years. That is not all. The number of discoveries in other groups such as insects is several orders of magnitude larger!
Consider the local scale—our own gardens or acreage. Believe it or not, even here there are still new species to discover. All observers of nature are well-positioned to contribute as citizen-scientists to the study of systematics (the general science of working out the relationships among organisms).
Find out how you can get involved and perhaps even name a species yourself, or better yet, have one named after you! Come to MVFN’s next lecture, “When is a Raven not a Raven?”, where Dr. Skevington will divulge this secret, Thursday April 17, 7:30pm at Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. All are welcome ($5 fee for non-members). For further information please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Cathy Keddy at 613-257-3089.
March 7, 2014
Connecting Children to Nature—Topic of Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ Next Lecture
By Cathy Keddy
The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ (MVFN) 2013-2014 public lecture series, Knowing and Caring Connect Us to Nature, continues March 20 with its 6th presentation, “Connecting Children to Nature: Urgency and Value.” Anyone who possesses a curiosity or appreciation for wild nature will enjoy these lectures. Parents, teachers, cottagers, hunters, fishermen, canoeists, hikers, campers, artists, and seasoned field naturalists alike will find something to interest them as we explore Lanark County’s natural heritage and how best to protect it for future generations. Refreshments are offered at each lecture.
Shawna Babcock of KidActive, a Renfrew-based non-profit organization, will present this lecture. KidAcitve encourages kids, teachers and parents to get outside more in our local, natural spaces to enhance learning opportunities and build physical activities and fun into children’s daily routines. Connecting children and their families with the outdoors fosters a positive relationship with the natural world and is a critical link for the sustainability of our environment and our society. See http://kidactive.ca/ for more background.
Every child needs access to natural spaces for their health, well-being, and success. Ontario Nature, a provincial natural heritage conservation organization, says that “health practitioners have long known that outdoor, nature-focused play and exploration are integral to the healthy development of any child. But a growing disconnect between young people and nature has hurt children’s collective health and well-being, contributing to increased rates of obesity. The disconnect has also decreased kids’ attention spans and mechanisms for coping with stress.” Under the leadership of the Back to Nature Network and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, a coalition of concerned organizations including Ontario Nature developed the recently-launched Ontario Children’s Outdoor Charter.
This Charter is aimed at reversing these alarming trends by getting children away from electronics and into nature. It encourages and enables children of all ages to explore their natural world. All young people have the right to discover nature and play outdoors, whether swimming in a lake, building an outdoor fort or hiking in a local park. Participating in nature-based activities not only improves the long-term health and well-being of young people, but also helps to instil a lifelong appreciation of nature. People who learn to love nature as children are more apt to help protect it later in life.
Opportunities for children to become acquainted with and develop a love for nature and natural areas are provided in our neighbourhood. For example, MVFN has a Young Naturalists program of indoor and outdoor adventures for kids ages 7-12 (http://mvfn.ca/?cat=614). The Macnamara Field Naturalists (Arnprior) also has a program for young naturalists (contact Alicia Salyi at ). Ontario Nature too has a program—Nature Guardians (different events geared for ages 5-18; http://www.ontarionature.org/connect/nature_guardians/index.php). In addition to these programs, there are some excellent online resources (check out http://www.incredibleworld.ca and http://onnaturemagazine.com/nature-notes).
Parents, teachers, community leaders and our youth…how can you afford to miss Shawna Babcock’s presentation, “Connecting Children to Nature: Urgency and Value,” at MVFN’s next meeting, Thursday March 20, 7:30pm at Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. All are welcome ($5 fee for non-members). For further information please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Cathy Keddy at 613-257-3089.
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
February 6, 2014
Enjoy Field Naturalists’ Wet and Wild!
By Cathy Keddy
The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) 2013-2014 public lecture series, Knowing and Caring Connect Us to Nature, continues February 20 with its 5th presentation, “Wet and Wild!” Anyone who possesses a curiosity or appreciation for wild nature will enjoy these lectures. Cottagers, hunters, fishermen, canoeists, hikers, campers, artists and seasoned field naturalists alike will find something to interest them as we explore what lives in Lanark County and how best to protect it for future generations. Refreshments are offered at each lecture.
Many wetland species, such as the ones in the photos above, are dependent upon annual flood pulses: (a) white ibis (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), (b) Mississippi gopher frog (M. Redmer), (c) dragonfly (C. Rubec), (d) tambaqui (M. Goulding), (e) furbish lousewort (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and (f ) Plymouth gentian (Paul Keddy).
At this upcoming meeting we will take a look on the wet side of Lanark County. Dr. Paul Keddy, a professor of ecology for over 30 years and author of Earth, Water, Fire: An Ecological Profile of Lanark County, will give a presentation on wetland communities—the places you have to wear big boots. He has studied wetlands, forests and other upland communities of the Ottawa Valley, the Maritimes, and the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Keddy has authored several prize-winning books on ecology and received a National Wetlands Award for Science Research. He has advised groups including The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and Earthjustice.
All life contains water. From distant space, Earth appears as a mosaic of blue and green, blue for water, green for plants. This talk will be about the connections between green and blue—wetlands. The surrounding uplands interact with the low wetlands. For example, amphibians, such as tree frogs, over-winter in the forest, while nutrients and runoff from the forest enter the wetland.
Wetlands have always influenced us. Early civilizations first arose along the edges of rivers in the fertile soils of floodplains. Wetlands continue to produce many benefits for humans—along with fertile soils for agriculture, they provide food including fish and waterbirds. Additionally, wetlands have other vital roles that are less obvious. They produce oxygen, store carbon, and process nitrogen. Of course, wetlands have also been a cause of human suffering, such as providing habitat for mosquitoes that carry malaria. And, for thousands of years, human cities in low areas have flooded during periods of high water. Philosophers and theologians may enquire how it is that one system can be both life-giving and death-dealing.
This promises to be an entertaining night—fish that breathe air and eat fruit, mosses that drown trees, plants that eat insects, and frogs that climb trees. We will also be introduced to the world’s largest wetlands, wetlands that perch on hillsides, wetlands that burn, and of course, wetlands that flood. Our neighbourhood wetlands and what we can do to conserve them will also be featured. Wetlands are one of the most productive habitats on Earth, and they support many kinds of life.
Signed copies of Dr. Keddy’s book on Lanark County’s natural heritage will be available for purchase at the meeting.
Hear about wet and go wild, at MVFN’s next lecture, “Wet and Wild,” where Dr. Keddy will describe the wonders of wetlands on Thursday, February 20, 7:30pm at Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte. All are welcome ($5 fee for non-members). For further information please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Cathy Keddy at 613-257-3089.