Enjoy Learning About and Helping Birds Through Birding!

Enjoy Learning About and Helping Birds Through Birding!

When I look out onto my backyard, I almost always see birds. We have a mid-sized city lot in a town of about 4,000 people, so I have modest expectations, but I’m never disappointed. Most of the time, just by taking a few minutes to observe, I can find over 10 species...
Volunteer to Support Nature – Become a Master Naturalist

Volunteer to Support Nature – Become a Master Naturalist

I should have known that I would grow up and end up working in the outdoors.  When we moved to the farm when I was 11 years old, I loved learning so many things just by going outside and running around in the fields, hills, quarries, rivers, and barnyards all around...
Meet the Crane Fly Larva

Meet the Crane Fly Larva

For me, my 2023 Nature Experience was the crane fly larva. I was entertaining a handful of children (5th – 6th grade), teaching the parameters (e.g., temperature, stream flow and depth, and turbidity) associated with water quality and monitoring (i.e., what we...
Prairie Strips in Fall

Prairie Strips in Fall

It’s a late fall afternoon, and I am walking along a four-year-old prairie strip that was planted by Valley Stewardship Network, where I work.  The ground is pretty sloped, but farmable – certainly in this part of the country – angling down through a corn...
Caring for Our Wisconsin Bats

Caring for Our Wisconsin Bats

My earliest memories of bats are from watching Bela Lugosi in the old Dracula movies and the time a bat got into our farmhouse when I was maybe 11 years old. I remember watching re-runs of Dracula movies on Saturday afternoons, wondering why a vampire and a bat were...
Explore Your Sense of Place

Explore Your Sense of Place

During the recent Ridges to Rivers Book Festival held in Viroqua, WI, we welcomed 4 authors into our office to participate in a Book Garden.  Each author read for 10 minutes from their latest works with a theme of Sense of Place.  At the end, there was a nice...
Constructed 1.5-Acre Open-Water Marsh – Tom’s Story

Constructed 1.5-Acre Open-Water Marsh – Tom’s Story

Agriculture and development have severely reduced the acreage of wetlands across the countryside.  Wetlands support an extraordinary diversity of wildlife.  They trap sediments and nutrient-laden agricultural runoff.  Wetlands serve as sponges for flood waters too. We...
What’s Up with All the Tree Cages – Tom’s Story

What’s Up with All the Tree Cages – Tom’s Story

Prevention of deer browse is one answer.  We protect all the trees and shrubs that we plant.  In the case of some of the oaks, even if they are volunteers sprouted from forgotten squirrel cashes, we generally protect them with 5′ welded wire fence rings.  Oaks,...
Tom’s Story – Streambank Restoration

Tom’s Story – Streambank Restoration

Tom acquired this 87-acre property with its mile of the West Fork in 2003. Since then, a half mile of streambank stabilization work has been done, along with in-stream and other habitat work. This work has been done in stages. The most recent work along 780 feet of...
Landowner Conservation Workshop at Nature Nooks Resort

Landowner Conservation Workshop at Nature Nooks Resort

Tom Lukens, Valley Stewardship Network Board Chair Emeritus, recently shared the conservation projects he’s been working on at his Nature Nooks Resort (NNR) property with a group of interested landowners.  The NNR mission is “to protect and enhance biodiversity and...