Get Outdoors: Wisconsin Naturalists

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While the forests really come to life in the spring, there’s still a whole lot going on in the dead of winter… including plenty of learning opportunities. In this week’s Get outdoors Meteorologist Adam Lorch shows us what some volunteer naturalists are uncovering.

It’s a strange time of the year.There’s not enough snow, yet its too cold for some activities. But there are still plenty of ways to take your learning opportunities outdoors.
Emily Stone, a Naturalist/Education Director at the Cable Natural History Museum, says “It’s kind of a boring season a lot of people don’t really like, but my goal with this is to give a bunch of naturalists something to get excited about when they go outdoors in this kind of boring season.”
The Wisconsin Naturalist Program has been going strong since 2012, teaching volunteers more about Wisconsin’s natural resources.
“They take a 40 hour course to get certified in the beginning. Then in subsequent years to stay certified they do 40 hours of community service, and eight hours of advanced training.” says Stone.
This class is about identifying trees by their sticks and buds, as well as some varieties of Lichen, not to be confused with moss.
Mary Bartkowiak said, “It’s made up of a fungus and algae. The algae provides the food for the association and the fungus provides structure or the housing”
Mary Bartkowiak is a Lichenologist, and says these under-studied specimen are very important to understand in our ecosystems.
“Lichens are very sensitive to change in their environment, whether that’s air quality or light.” said Bartkowiak.
After some classroom time and some in the field time, these volunteers will know enough about lichen to be “natural” pros.
Bartkowiak  says, “The master naturalist will be able to identify maybe six different species of lichen. They will be able to tell and explain to others what the differences–why is this a lichen, and why is this a liverwort.”
Meteorologist Adam Lorch

Meteorologist Adam Lorch

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