A Thanksgiving Poem

The past twelve months have been filled with personal challenges for me and I have not always been thankful for the many blessings in my life. Often we look at the problems we are dealing with, but neglect to see and be grateful for the gifts we have been given.

The other day I found this poem and it was a good reminder to me to not let the cares of this world keep me from being thankful. I am thankful for the relationships I have with family and friends. I am thankful for the people we serve. I am thankful for the work I do, and the beauty all around me. Trials can be turned to gratitude if we change our attitude.

We walk on starry fields of white
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
Of pleasures sweet and tender.

Our cares are bold and push their way
Upon our thought and feeling.
They hang about us all the day,
Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives
And conquers if we let it.

There’s not a day in all the year
But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
To brim the past’s wide measure.

But blessings are like friends, I hold,
Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
While living hearts can hear us.

Full many a blessing wears the guise
Of worry or of trouble.
Farseeing is the soul and wise
Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
To gladden every morrow.

We ought to make the moments notes
Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
A grand Thanksgiving chorus.

– Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1896

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM YOUR FRIENDS AT THE DYCK ARBORETUM OF THE PLAINS!

Kansas Native Ferns

At FloraKansas Native Plant Festival our customers were surprised to see we offer Kansas native ferns. Perhaps they were surprised to hear Kansas even had native ferns! With our hot, dry summers and deep-freeze winters, Kansas does not seem like hospitable environment for delicate, shade loving plants. However, we have several naturally occurring fern species in the state that are hardier than you might think. They are fascinating to observe growing in the wild, but also make excellent additions to your shade garden.

Royal Fern

Osmunda regalis var spectabilis


According to fossil records, the royal fern family (Osmundaceae) dates back about 365 million years. 3 to 4 feet tall (shorter in poor, drier soil), this fern becomes a large and impressive specimen in the shade garden. O. regalis var spectabilis grows happily in the far eastern part of Kansas and throughout the eastern third of North America. Royal fern has attractive bright green foliage and rust colored spore plumes. It prefers moist, somewhat acidic soil and shade though it can handle sun if the soil is kept wet. This fern can live up to 100 years if planted in the right location!

Royal fern is an easterly species, occurring from the Ozarks through the southeastern US and north into eastern Canada.

Christmas Fern

Polystichum acrostichoides

This festive native fern grows in far southeastern Kansas. According to Missouri Botanical Garden, it “…typically grows in a fountain-like clump to 2′ tall and features leathery, lance-shaped, with evergreen (green at Christmas time as the common name suggests) fronds.” If you love boston ferns but want something perennial, this is a great option. When planted in an average moisture, shaded area it will spread slowly to form a colony.

If you are up for some botanizing, head to these southeastern counties in moist, partially wooded areas to catch a glimpse of these ferns.

Sensitive Fern

Onoclea sensibilis

Onoclea is unique native fern, with arching fronds and oblong, creeping rhizomes. Getting its name from sensitivity to frost, O. sensibilis is surprisingly hardy. It can easily survive the cold dry winters in Kansas, Nebraska and even the Dakotas. This species is native to the eastern half of North America as well as far eastern Russia and China. According to Wikipedia, you can help your ferns survive the winter by leaving dried fronds on the plant instead of clearing them away.

There are many more native ferns I could include here, from the marginal woodfern found in Wilson, Elk, and Greenwood counties to the tiny rock ferns growing among the monoliths at Rock City in Minneapolis, KS. Get out and do some fern hunting, or buy a few at our fall sale to enjoy for years to come.

Sharing the Simple Beauty of Kansas

I will be travelling this week to the annual conference of the American Public Gardens Association, this year located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which is very far from my Kansas home. Representatives from public gardens across North America will gather to share information about their respective gardens and regions.

Kansas has a simple fundamental beauty that is unique to this state. The Dyck Arboretum of the Plains tries to capture that beauty in the development of our grounds, using plants that are native to the prairie. Contrary to popular belief, Kansas is a special place to live.  The vast open views, unobstructed for miles in every direction, are a hallmark of this state.  Amazing sunsets happen almost every night.  Dynamic thunderstorms and bright white clouds fill the afternoon skies.  Kansas has a beauty all it’s own.

I look forward to sharing with my colleagues why I love living in Kansas, and why the Arboretum’s mission of connecting people with the prairie is so important to our organization and to our community.

Thunderstorm at Chase Co. State Fishing Lake

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in the Flint Hills.

Indiangrass

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

Russell Springs-Logan County-Photo Courtesy of Craig Freeman

Rocktown Natural Area-Russell County-Photo courtesy of Craig Freeman

Ft. Riley near Manhattan-Photo courtesy of Craig Freeman

Chalk Formations-Gove County-Photo courtesy of Craig Freeman

Cimarron National Grassland, Morton County-Photo courtesy of Craig Freeman

Shortgrass Prairie near Holcomb, Finney County-Photo courtesy of Craig Freeman

 






Kansas – A Rich Heritage of Environmental Education

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Photo by Brad Guhr.

The prairie is central to our environmental education in Kansas (Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve near Strong City, KS).

It is Earth Partnership for Schools (EPS) summer institute time again at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains. For the 10th year in a row, we are hosting teachers from around South Central Kansas for a week to learn about, plan, practice, and celebrate the environmental education process of teaching students about natural and cultural history of the native Kansas prairie. This year’s EPS summer institute with its 33 teachers (our largest group ever), 482 years of collective teaching experience, and ample enthusiasm for providing prairie project-based, hands-on education for their students provides the perfect setting to be thinking about environmental education in Kansas.

I have taken a bit of time to inventory, categorize, and provide a brief description of the vast array of environmental education resources in Kansas. It turns out to be a pretty rich heritage indeed.

State-Sponsored

KS_KDWPLogo_Blue-Gold_PMS.eps

Our state-funded conservation entity Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism has a focus on just those things. They promote hunting, fishing, and camping opportunities throughout the state and connecting people with outdoors Kansas. Their long-running Outdoor Wildlife Laboratory Sites (OWLS) Program is a great promoter of establishing native wildlife habitat on school grounds.

Museums and Zoos

Exploration Place – This was a favorite end-of-summer destination for my boys when they were younger. They were first attracted to thExplorationPlacee blocks, climbing/play areas, and model train set, but eventually became hooked on the hands-on exhibits featuring wind currents, stream morphology, weather, and geology. The most memorable visit was when retrieving an errant mini golf shot led to three hours of getting wet and sandy in the Arkansas River under the watchful eye of the Keeper of the Plains.

Flint Hills Discovery Center – One of the newer facilities in Kansas that not only wonderfully interprets the natural and cFlintHillsDiscoveryCenterultural history of the Kansas Flint Hills Prairie, but it is also an architectural and landscaping gem.

Kauffman MusKMlogo-croppedeum – A Museum of Mennonite Immigration and History in Kansas. They interpret the natural Kansas setting encountered in the 1870s, have a collection of wildlife in taxidermy, and the surrounding outdoor landscape features one of the oldest reconstructed prairies in Kansas. A good destination for school field trips and summer educational programming for youth.

The University of Kansas Natural History Museum & Biodiversity Research Center – For more than 140 years, scientists and students have collected and studied liKansas+Biological+Survey+official+logofe on Earth. The museum has more than 8 million specimens of plants and animals, including prehistoric and living species gathered from every continent and ocean.

Sternberg Museum of Natural HistoryMuseum feaSternbergtures include a replicated fossil dig site & a discovery room with hands-on activities. While I have not been there, I understand it features a great collection of marine and flying reptiles and fish fossils from the Cretaceous Era.

Sedgwick County Zoo – Accredited wildlife park and major attraction in Wichita that has become recognized both nationally and internatilogoonally for its support of conservation programs and successful breeding of rare and endangered species. Having over 2,500 animals of nearly 500 different species, this zoo ranks as the number one outdoor tourist attraction in Kansas. They also do a nice job of interpreting the native fauna of Kansas.

Sunset Zoo – City zoo of PathManhattan is home to over 300 animals representing more than 100 mediaview.aspxspecies.

Tanganyika Wildlife ParkFamily-friendly destination in Goddard where parkgoers have up-close, hands-on interaction with the animals.

Environmental Education /Nature Centers/Botanical Gardens/Arboreta

Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Educatiokacee logo cleann (KACEE) – A statewide non-profit association of many public and private agencies, organizations, businesses and individuals promoting and providing quality, non-biased and science-based environmental education in Kansas for 45 years.

Chaplin Nature CenterA 230-acre nature preserve chaplin_entryv2with four miles of hiking trails and environmental education for all ages along the Arkansas River near Arkansas City.

Dillon Nature Center – 100-acre park/arboretum with a pond opened in HutchinsonDillonNatureCenter in 1994. The visitor center includes a nature display gallery with dioramas, interactive exhibits and live reptiles, amphibians and fish.

Great Plains Nature Center – Experience 240-acre Chisholm Creek Park via 2 miles of accessible trails through wGPNClogoetlands, prairie, and riparian habitats. The visitor center has dioramas that feature Great Plains ecosystems including their plants and wildlife.

Konza Environmental Education PrKEEPogram – 8,600 acres of rolling hills marked with flint and limestone dominate the landscapes around Manhattan KS. The Kansas State University Biology Department conducts prairie research here and The Nature Conservancy owns the land. Trained docents will lead your group in an activity that highlights the biology, geology, ecology, and history of the tallgrass prairie.

Botanica – The Gardens are decorated with a collection of botanica20 elegant sculptures, flowing streams, fountains and waterfalls that complement the beauty of plants and that create a visually stunning atmosphere. Facility rentals as well as educational, artistic, and cultural experiences are plentiful.

Bartlett Arboretum – This 105 year-old botanical gem features state champioBartlettn trees, picturesque views of waterways, bridge and pergola architecture, a quaint location for an outdoor wedding, art classes, a tulip festival and an outdoor concert series.

Dyck Arboretum of the Plains – 28 acres established in 1981 in Hesston featuring hundreds of species of native and adaptable wildflowers, grasses, shrubs and trees. Whether planted with Printhorticultural intention or as prairie-based ecosystems, Kansas native plants are promoted here in ways pleasing to both people and pollinators. Pay a visit if you are looking for scenic facility rentals, recreation, environmental landscaping, ecological restoration, Great Plains seminars, environmental education for teachers, and an acoustic music concert series.

Conservation/Specialized Educationkansas-audubon-icon

Audubon of Kansas – Promotes appreciation and stewardship of ecosystems in Kansas and the heartland, with emphasis on conservation of birds, wildlife, prairies and other habitats.

Kansas Land Trust – By crafting customized conservindexation agreements with landowners, KLT helps permanently protect Kansas lands of ecological or agricultural importance and of historic, scenic, and recreational merit.

The Nature Conservancy of Kansas – The leading logo-nature-notaglineconservation organization working to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. Areas of current focus in Kansas include the Flint Hills, Red Hills, Osage Cuestas and Cheyenne Bkhslogo2v2ottoms.

Kansas Herpetological Society – Encourages conservation, scholarship, research, cooperation, and dissemination of scientific information regarding the herpetofauna of Kansas.

Kansas Native Plant Society – Encourages awarenessKNPSdecal and appreciation of the native plants of Kansas in their habitats and in our landscapes by promoting education, stewardship, and scientific knowledge.

Kansas Ornithological Society – A statewide organization devoted specifically to the study, conservation, and enjoyment of birds. kos_larkCollectively, the KOS has unrivaled knowledge about the status, distribution, ecology, and identification of the state’s avifauna.

 

 

 

Research

Kansas Biological Survey – A University of Kansas research center of natural sciences research, environmentaKansas+Biological+Survey+official+logol mapping, conservation and education. Scientists work with graduate and undergraduate students, as well as visiting scholars on research covering water, air and soil quality; land use; threatened and endangered species; global change biology; environmental engineering; and aquatic ecology and watersheds.

Teacher Groups

Kansas Association of Teachers of Science (New Picture (19)KATS) – KATS shares ideas and techniques for teaching science education to Kansas students.

Kansas Association of Biology Teachers (KABT) – CKABTBanner2016v2urrent and former educators interested in advancing the practice of science teaching within and beyond the borders of the state of Kansas.

 

Natural Areas

Natural areas rich with flora and fauna can be found around the state featuring prairie and wetland ecosystems. In southwestern Kansas, the Cimmaron National Grassland features shortgrass prairie. Tallgrass prairie is featured in the Flint Hills at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Maxwell Wildlife Refuge features Smoky Hills mixedgrass prairie and herds of bison and elk. Marshes critically important in the Great Plains Flyway include the rare inland salt marshes at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms, the largest interior marsh in the United States.

Now get out there and find and engage with these great environmental education resources in Kansas!