Friday, July 12, 2013

Fried Up - You Really Can Eat Kudzu

By Lila Welsh

When life gives you kudzu, fry it! The invasive species group has been trying some new ways to get rid of an invasive species.

Kudzu is an invasive species. An invasive species is one that is introduced into an area and has no natural predators and is a generalized species, which means it can live in all kinds of environments.

It seems nowadays in North Carolina that kudzu can be found in every forest.

The kids in the invasive species group have found a way to help control the invasive kudzu. Eat it!

The invasive plant is delicious when fried and is an innovative way to control a problem plant. The class is also thinking of preparing other kudzu dishes for the final festival such as kudzu salsa, kudzu quiche, and even a tenderloin with a kudzu sauce!

"It's a bad plant that tastes good." -Grey Dorsett, Summit Camper

Photo by: Morgan King

Ben Prater: Changing Our Perspective

By: JaneCameron Williamson

Ben Prater

On the 12th day of July, 2013 Ben Prater came to talk to the participants about developing a strategy to better understand a conservation project. He had a great system of thinking. He taught us the main 5 steps:

  • Identify the issue.
  • Consider your stakeholders.
  • Set your SMART goals.
  • Develop a strategy.

He said long term goals are better and a S.M.A.R.T. goal stood for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Some social strategies he talked about were: Information/Education, Social Marketing, and Regulation. Also he talked about conceptual lenses we use to understand something such as; urgency lens, building block lens, advocacy lens, feasibility lens, commitment lens, and impact lens.

He was very fun to listen to and had quotes all throughout his presentation. One that I enjoyed was from John Naisbitt:

"We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom."

Dr. John Wear - Director of the Center for the Environment

Dr. John Wear is the Executive Director of the Center for the Environment. The Green Ink Bloggers would like to thank Dr. Wear, Cathy Holladay, Sarah Moore, as well the rest of the Center for the Environment staff and counselors for organizing and hosting the National Environment Summit: Redesigning Our Future 2013! 

Get a Backbone and Make a Difference

By: Katie Trischman

Fungi capture the rainforest-esque feel of the preserve

After the past two days of warm rain, the Catawba nature preserve resembled a rainforest more than the cornfield that it once was. Certainly there were enough mosquitoes to be a rainforest. Despite the mud and parasites, one group braves the elements to monitor the health of the preserve's ecosystem.

The Backbone for Conservation focus group is extremely hands-on and is involved with studying the vertebrates of the preserve. They have caught and tagged both turtles and birds (about only 5 species out of the 245 vertebrates on the preserve) all while being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Bird netting, however, is not as glamorous as it sounds; it takes a lot of sitting around in the mud. After following Professor Joe Posten through the trails, the group sets up the thin net across a pathway that Professor Posten deems suitable. He usually listens for bird calls and tries to set up in an area where several birds seem to be living nearby. He then selects a bird species and plays a recording of its call to lure out the territorial bird.

However, a watched net never catches a bird, and so while we waited to net a bird we also collected the game trap cameras. Upon return, we were disappointed to be greeted by an empty net. Although we didn't catch a bird today, the group did catch a vibrant male cardinal and a tiny tufted titmouse earlier this week. They also planned to catch and band more turtles later that day, and so their spirit was not dampened.

 Jack Dempster and Professor Posten prepare for the trek

Setting up the bird net

Now you see it, now you don't! The bird net is almost invisible against the forest backdrop.

The group members didn't seem to mind their failure either. Christina Donovan, one of the group members, seems happy to "hang with the mosquitoes" and slog through the mud. She chose the group for its hands-on nature and enjoys the feeling that she's actively doing something. The field work is excellent experience for anyone that wants to have a career in animal population study, as it often requires the capture, tagging, and monitoring of animal species.

 When I looked at the faces of the members of the rest of the focus group after our hike, I could see the contentedness behind their exhaustion. The hard work this week didn't only pay off well for the environment, but spiritually as well.

Left to Right: Jack Dempster, Julia Dunbar, Kerstin Brown (councilor), Christina Donovan, Julia Eans, Lindsay Barns, Kevin Mahan

Price Of Everything

By: JaneCameron Williamson

The Price of Everything Focus Group

From Left to Right: Madison Labonte, Grace Owen, Lindsey Conlan, Daniel Richardson, Malcolm King, Patrick Moore
The members of the focus group, Price Of Everything, was really pumped to be in their group. They really enjoyed it and thought it focused a lot on the economic and political part of protecting and explaining environmental problems.

I talked to group members Daniel Richardson and Malcolm King. Daniel explained that he felt that economics was a big part of how we handle expenses that improve the environment and without the markets, we wouldn't have the proper lifestyle to protect us.

Malcolm thought it focused more on the political side. He told me that they talk about how the markets work and the connections it has to the environment and they have also learned that in order to create a better system for trash, we need to change our own lifestyles.

I believe the group was a great way to learn new techniques and better understand how the markets are involved in helping environmental problems. 

A Salute to Our Summit Camp Counselors

Left to Right; Katie Barbee, Morgan King, Ron Stewart, 
Kerstin Brown, Mark Conrad, Patrick Moore, and Ka'Shara Davis

 A special thanks a million to our Redesigning Our Future counselors! 

A super huge thanks to our Green Ink Blogger's counselor Morgan King!

Left to Right; Katie Barbee, Morgan King, Ron Stewart, 
Kerstin Brown, Mark Conrad, Patrick Moore, and Ka'Shara Davis

Tied Up In Knots

By: Leah Picciano

During an evening during Environmental Summit 2013, there was an activity planned outside. Unfortunately, Mother Nature released a rainstorm that showed no sign of stopping.

The activity wasn't cancelled, we just did it inside, which is when things got rather tangled. We were instructed to form a circle, cross our arms, and then grab the hands of the person across from you, (not the same person's hands for each of yours, and not the person's hand next to you), and then work to untangle yourselves without letting go of the persons' hands.

The end result should be you standing in a circle next to the two people that you are holding hands. If you can do that, you should try doing it without talking - or at least one person talking.

Getting slightly tangled

Getting more tangled

Starting out and getting tangled up to almost to the point of no return.

Almost finished.

Having fun despite the knots.

The extremes needed to untangle the knots.

Getting started

Getting tangled

Halfway done but still having trouble and fun.

Almost done. Everyone is almost untangled.


By: Raul Barreda and Morgan King

Sarah Moore explains the different events of 
Ecolympics before all the craziness got started. 

The teams were divided up into their focus groups and competed against each other.

 And the Events are....

Challenge #1-Enviromental Telephone 

Challenge #2-Animal Noises

Challege #3-Rock, Paper, Scissors... make sure you recycle the paper! 

Challenge #4-Eco Dancing 

Challege #5-Recycling Races

And the Winners are....

1st Place- Invasive Alien Plants and Animals

2nd Place- A Backbone for Conservation

3rd Place- Scared Places

Horizon's Light Show and Light Pollution Explanation

 On Thursday the 11th, everyone doing the environmental project got to go to a light show and was explained to what light pollution was. Light pollution is having too many lights on to where you can't see anything.

We were shown a video of where a man was searching for stars in the sky, and it seemed like he was in LA; there were a lot of lights and buildings. He said that so far, he had only seen TWELVE stars in the sky, and you know there aren't just twelve stars in the sky.

There were pictures of places with and without many lights. Mostly, the ones with many lights were cities, and the ones without many lights were small homes in the country. The more lights there were, the less stars you were able to see. And the less lights there were, the more stars you could see. We were also shown different stars and constellations.

Summit students walking back
 from the Horizon's light show. 

Sights And Sounds In Catawba Nature Preserve

By: Leah Picciano

The turtle on the trail. Unfortunately for him, he was too cute to ignore.

The Environmental Summit of 2013 spent a whole morning in the preserve. We saw many things, including a turtle, many spiders, salamanders, and plenty of mosquitoes. One of our more interesting finds were the turtle, which stayed still enough for us to get a close-up of him hiding in his shell. The turtle is a Eastern Painted Turtle common from Canada to Georgia and goes as far west as the Appalachians. They are very popular as pets.

The large salamander that one of the campers caught afterwards.
The salamanders were part of the biomimicry, but once we were finished, one of the campers caught a very large salamander, and we were able to hold it and take plenty of pictures of it.

The spiders got us tangled in their webs, since they were all over the paths and in the woods. The mosquitoes were everywhere, despite all the spray that we put on.

After the biomimicry when we had some time to do what we wanted, we were able to go kayaking or canoeing on the lake in the preserve. Out on the lake, we saw many plants and flowers, as well as something that looked like bee boxes for the bees to make hives for honey. They might have been for birds, but none of us were willing to get too close.

The biomimicry was used to get the campers to think of how people try and copy the environment to make our lives easier and better. The salamanders were used, because they regenerate their limbs should they lose them, and the counselors and advisers wanted us to think of how people try and "regenerate" our limbs in terms of prostheses and research being done to regenerate cells and, therefore, limbs.

A spider's silk is the strongest material in the world. We were asked in the biomimicry how the spiders silk could be used in our lives. Spiders make silk without using any harmful material or creating harmful wastes. We were asked to think on how people could create the same material without creating so much harmful waste and materials.

A Riddle For You:

 This picture was taken in the preserve:

Do you know what it is?