Saturday, July 12, 2014

Don't Hate Kudzu (well maybe) - Eating and Drinking Kudzu Does Help Ease the Pain

Students are Eager to Try Kudzu Food and Drink
High school students in Dr. Jay Bolin's group Invasive Alien Plants and Animals: Friend or Foe to the Environment? always enjoy the kudzu class. Why? Well, they get to eat and drink kudzu concoctions. 

Granted kudzu has a bad name, and it has certainly caused a lot of headaches for a lot of people. Brought in to counter soil erosion, this plant quickly became an invasive plant that would crawl over and tangle up plants, trees, and old broken down cars sitting in the field.

Fighting it back has been like trying to stick your elbow in your ear.

Given it's hard to impossible to do much about kudzu, students learn to make the best of a bad situation. The campers go out hiking and pick young kudzu leaves and then get to cooking.

One favorite is fried kudzu leaves. Students make and eat these in their focus group meetings.

The kudzu leaves are battered and deep fried. This is quite a southern tradition. Most anyone from the sunny south can tell you that anything tastes good battered and fried. This holds true for kudzu too.

What Does Fried Kudzu Taste Like?

Hum. That is a good question. When fried, kudzu tastes kind of like chips - but not really. The flavor is good. Just a little different. Not really like anything else.

If blindfolded, you'd likely NEVER guess you were eating kudzu fried. Heck, even without a blindfold, you likely would not know what you were eating. Something green and lightly battered.

Beyond Fried Kudzu

The Invasive Species group goes beyond fried kudzu. It would take forever to fry enough for a whole camp of hungry campers.

Kudzu Quiche - Oh So Yummy
For the final festival, the Bolin group does fry some kudzu, but center stage is kudzu quiche.

Some members of the Green Ink camp blogging group stopped by to see the quiche baking class, and they returned raving about how wonderful the quiche smelled. This had camper's mouths watering and students checking their watches to see when it would be festival time.

Time to See What Kudzu Quiche Tastes Like

It was finally time, and students swarmed the kudzu table to get samples. A few hesitated until they saw how fellow campers responded.

The kudzu quiche was a winner.

Again, it was hard to nail the secret ingredient. A good guess could have been mild spinach. But, no, the green leaves were kudzu. And they were truly delicious.

This year, the group also added a kudzu hot tea. Students were a bit shy on trying it, since it was a new offering. Those who gave it a try said it was interesting but good.

What will Invasive Alien Plants and Animals do with kudzu next year? I'd not wager a guess. I would bet it will be good though.

Communication is Critical, Heather White Tells Summit Campers

Heather White Meets with Redesigning the Future Summit Students

Heather White is the Executive Director of Environmental Working Group (EWG), and she made time to stop by Redesigning the Future to speak with everyone about the importance of communication.

We communicate constantly, but we don't always do it well. White provided ways to think about the world, organize those thoughts, and get powerful messages out.

White Reaches Out to High School Students Who Will be Our Future Leaders

The communication skills program began with a game to get students up and moving and involved in the process of thinking about how we send and receive messages.

Students Quickly Came Up with Ideas and Began to Fill the Walls with Words
Campers wrote down thoughts on sticky notes and put them on the wall boards. Then White had them take the ideas from across the room and begin to organize those words and thoughts so that they had more than just a jumble of random sticky note ideas.

Organizational Work Took More Time and Effort - But Summit Members Collaborated to Complete the Second Task
We don't think about communication a lot. We just do it. But, if we want results, we need to be more focused on what we say and do.

White helped summit members look beyond the obvious and make new connections about their messages and how they impact the world.

Building Our Own Little Sacred Spaces at Environmental Summit 2014

Members of the Sacred Spaces: Global Heritage and Conservation group spent some time in the campus preserve gathering items to create their own mini sacred spaces after learning about special sacred areas across the globe.

Here are their creations. As you can see, each camper had a different vision of tranquility.


Tackling Snapping Turtles at the Summit

By: Cierra Hunter

A Backbone for Conservation led by Dr. Joe Poston, a professor of biology at Catawba College, gave students real hands on experiences in the wild.

Members of the group included:

A snapping turtle is always a cool find. They are important to the ecosystem, but they are endangered in many areas for a variety of reasons.

Here is a great video out of Canada that provides a lot of information about snapping turtles. It includes tips on how to help the snapping turtles too.

Taking Videos in the Preserve - Oh The Things That You Will See

Students in Dr. Joe Poston's group got a very unique view of nature by using an outdoor video camera. You never know what's out there when no one is watching.

Is this thing working? Yes it is, and the group was caught on nature candid camera.

This little deer looks like she may suspect something. Maybe she has that second sense just as people do - "Hum. I have this feeling that I'm being watched."

It's a little harder to make out the night animals, but this is a raccoon. He's enjoying a stroll through the forest and likely thinking about finding something good to eat.

Of course, you always catch some tame critters on camera.

SACRED SPACES: Global Heritage and Conservation

Dr. Charlie McAllister took campers all over the globe in his intriguing section on Sacred Spaces.

Sacred Spaces group gathers for the final camp festival where each group put together a presentation highlighting the week at the summit. 

Students shared some of the sacred places they learned about during the week.

Members of this interesting group included:

Rosalie Alff (Jefferson)
Rebecca Bailey (Burlington)
Eric Datta (Chapel Hill)
Nataliyah Gray (Burlington)
Justice Pennywell (Shelby)
Isabel Pernia (Charlotte)
Andrew Whang (Chapel Hill)

The group was ably assisted by veteran counselor Kerstin Brown.

The seven students began by collectively drawing a world map of sacred spaces, which began our conversation about this term.

Then, in five sessions, they selected and profiled twenty-one case studies in three global regions from Beyond Belief: Linking Faiths and Protected Areas to Support Biodiversity Conservation (2005).

Some of the countries: Columbia, Finland, New Zealand, Mali, Peru, Japan, and South America.

One especially interesting area explored by the group was an area of Africa that is a sanctuary for monkeys. The monkeys are considered sacred. As you can see, the area is, indeed, beautiful, and the antics of the monkeys make you smile. This would be a wonderful sacred spot to visit. 

This leads to the question: Where is your sacred spot? Be sure to leave a comment and tell us about a place that brings you peace.

Acting for the Environment

By: Payton Coleman

As actors in the "Stories in Support of  Your Cause" campers have been allowing their creative juices to flow as they use their artistic talents to share their concerns for the environment. The main focus for the group has been to show how their passion for the environment can affect the world.

One of the students shared her thoughts about the groups progress.

What have you enjoyed about your group?

"I enjoyed how we can tell stories with each other, be respected and act out the stories as well." 
                                                       -Lexie Burns

Skit highlights the shortcomings of the other five camp groups but ends with a counselor mentioning the value of each group and how working together makes everyone stronger at an event like (PAUSE) . . . Redesigning the Future.