Return to the Wilderness

Last week was the first week of the new year of Wildlife class at the Deering Estate!!!!!!!!! I love this class so much. There is another class they teach about Marine Biology that always fills up quickly but I think the Wildlife class is better because you get to do all the things that the marine class does but you also get to go in the woods and see animals.

We got to go in to the Pine Rockland area of the estate to see the damage caused by a fire that was started by people that broke in to the estate. Pine Rocklands need to be burned, but with people watching it so it does not get too big, because the fire kills the plants and trees that will grow too big and make too much shade turning the area into a hardwood hammock which will kill all the plants that live in the rockland type habitat. A good but long paper to read is by Drew Linderman of the University of Florida. There is a Facebook page that is dedicated to saving the rockland areas of Florida. This is a good reference to read about how they decide to burn the area sponsored by Fairchild Tropical Gardens here in South Florida. It has some great pictures so you can see the difference.

Anyway, at my class we went out to the area that had been burned and took measurements to see if the fire had been good or bad for the area even if it was not meant to happen. The Slash Pine trees (the trees that are supposed to live in the rocklands) when they burn ooze sap from their trunks. I got a piece that was on the floor that had an ant stuck in it. From our measurements we determined that the fire was too big and reached too high.

We saw other things when we were out there too. We got to see a hole that had been dug by a tortoise and many big blue crabs. It is their mating season so they are everywhere. They even climb up on to the top of the screen doors and if they can the ceiling of the classroom! They are pretty funny.

After we went out on our hike we came back in to the classroom and made seed balls. Not the kind you make for birds but these are what you make if you want to seed an area and are not able to take care of it while it starts to grow. You take clay, terra cotta is best. Use clay with no chemicals, so not play dough. You make a bowl shape and fill it with potting soil and seeds (use seeds of native plants to your area). You seal the bowl into a ball. Dip it in water to wet the surface and then roll that in more soil and seeds. Let it dry and then throw it out in to the area you want plants to grow. After it rains a few times the ball will begin to dissolve and the plants will start to grow.

We also got to see the animals that are in the classroom. It was nice to see them after the long summer. They had grown so much. Abe the Bearded Dragon was huge! My mom was happy to see her friend Aida and I was happy to see my friend her son, Ethan. He is great. He loves the class as much as I do.

So, if you are homeschooled and you want a great class go to the Deering Estate and check out what they have to offer. I recommend the Wildlife class more than the others.