Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Red Tail's interview for BSlugTV (with Scooby)

Hey all, I'm having a great week with Alta Vista and Oster schools, learning a lot, clipping some poison oak on the trails (I'm about 2/3 done).

A lot of the staff at Walden West are being interviewed by Scooby, and the interviews are being posted on our YouTube channel, called BSlugTV. Check it out!

Here's my interview. In it, I talk about early nature experiences, how I got to be a naturalist, what my hobbies are, and what we can do to help the world.

Here it is:

If you can't view the above video, then click here.

Red Tail.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Giant Panda Song!

We had a fantastic week with students from Montclaire, West Valley Middle School, and Rainbow Montessori School.

What a fantastic group of kids, and I will miss you all.

Most of all I will miss us bopping through the woods singing this:

It all started when Panda announced his name, and I said it reminded me of the "Giant Panda" film segment from Sesame Street, when I was little. I started humming the very memorable music from the short film (amazing that I could remember it from 28 years ago!!!). Soon, all the kids were humming it together, and I even tried beatboxing with it.  (Didn't quite sound right, but it was cute.)  Too bad we didn't get video of the group doing it.  But I found it on youtube!  I showed it to the group on Friday morning, to everyone's delight. 

If the embedded video doesn't work, go to click this link or go to youtube and search for "sesame street giant panda".

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tasty Snacks and Healing Medicines from the Forest

I've always loved showing kids the many snacks that are available out in the forest.  But sometimes, for one reason or another, I don't have time.

NOTE:  Please be safe and make SURE you know what you are eating.  Some plants and fungi in the forest are POISONOUS.

One yummy forest edible is Miner's Lettuce.  Look for a leaf that makes a complete circle around the stalk; the stalk is round and soft.

One student a few years ago collected a whole bag of miner's lettuce on a hike, and then she asked me if I happened to have any ranch dressing on me.  Nope, I don't usually hike with it!  But maybe I should!  :)   

Miner's lettuce - The round leaves can be 1-4" in diameter.

Miner's Lettuce

Miner's Lettuce

Another yummy and nutritious snack is Douglas fir needles.  Look for 2-3" needles coming off a central stalk in a bottle-brush shape. The cones could point upward or downward, and each one has 10-30 little "tongues" coming out that look like a flame shape.  (There is a Native American myth about a mouse that jumps headfirst into the cone, with his hind legs and tail protruding; it does look like that shape!)

Douglas fir needles are edible and have a lot of vitamin C in them.  Be careful not to eat a large amount, though, because I hear that the tannic acid can give you a stomach ache if you overdo it. Here is a picture of what they look like.  The cone is unique among the Fir family:
Douglas Fir - the needles have a nice flavor and lots of vitamin C!

Finally, we come to a nice medicinal fungus found growing all over the woods around Walden West.  It doesn't fit into the "tasty" category, but it is reputed to fight cancer and help boost the immune system, helping you fight off colds and flus and worse things.  It's called Turkey Tail Fungus (Trametes versicolor).  Look for tough, rubbery shelves growing horizontally, with brown, white, or dark red stripes that go "azimuthally" or in a circle around the mushroom:

Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor)

Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor)

More information about the health benefits here:

Note that Turkey Tail tastes a little rubbery, and its texture is rubbery, too.  You can chew on it while hiking, sort of like chewing gum, and get the health benefits that way.  Or you can boil it and make a healing medicinal tea, and then drink the tea.  In the United States, this medicine is not very well known, but in Japan, it's one of the top cancer-fighting medicines.  Turkey Tail compounds account for 25% of all the money spent on anti-cancer medicine in Japan!!!! 

Have fun, kids, and be safe.

NOTE:  Please be safe and make SURE you know what you are eating.  Some plants and fungi in the forest are POISONOUS.

The three things I mentioned here do not look like anything else in the forest, but even so, you need to make sure you have adult supervision and expertise before you taste anything.  If you are sure you know what it is, and that it is safe, then it's okay to eat it.