February 24, 2017

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering at the Science Center is enriching and fun. Learn something new and meet interesting people while sharing your talents and skills. Come explore with us and share your enthusiasm. We have a number of upcoming volunteer training opportunities. Learn more and see below for dates. For more information please contact Carol Raymond, Volunteer Manager, at 603-968-7194 x 22.

National Association of Interpreters Certified Interpretive Guide Training: April 6 through 9 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily
Interpreters are storytellers. They are tour guides, museum docents, zoo docents, park rangers, naturalists, and more. In this four-day course offered by the Science Center and National Association for Interpretation you will learn techniques to make connections with an audience, give meaningful and enjoyable presentations, and create thought provoking and relevant interpretive programs. Become a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation. Visit interpnet.com to register or contact Certified Interpretive Trainer Audrey Eisenhauer for more information.

Lake Education Assistant Training and Refresher: April 20 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Lake Education Assistants assist naturalists by leading lake testing activities aboard pontoon boats. Lake Education Assistants are at least 18 years old, enjoy boating in various types of weather, and leading educational activities. No prior experience is necessary. Lake Education Assistants are most active in May and June, and less so in July, August, September and October.

School Group Greeter Training and Refresher: April 25 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
School Group Greeters are the first “face” school children see when arriving at the Science Center. Greeters board buses as they arrive, welcoming students, and helping them get started on their Science Center adventure. Greeters like to share a positive, welcoming demeanor, and their sense of organization. They are most active weekdays in May, June, September, and October. No prior experience is necessary.

Volunteer Instructor Training: April 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 
Volunteer Instructors are trained to lead school groups in several ecology classes that include fun activities on site. The training on April 27 is an introduction to the classes. Trainees continue their instruction through observation and team teaching experiences before scheduling time to lead classes on their own. Volunteer Instructors are at least 18 years old and enjoy sharing knowledge and activities with school-aged children. No prior experience is required. Volunteer Instructors are most active weekdays in May and June, and less so in September and October. The training session is also open to previously trained Volunteer Instructors who would like attend as a refresher.

Water Matters Pavilion Host Training: May 1 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. 
Hosts are trained to introduce visitors to the exhibits in the Water Matters Pavilion. One exhibit – the Watershed Table – may be opened to visitors to shape and create digital “watersheds” in sand. Other exhibits include live animal displays, animal video cameras, and other interactive activities. Water Matter Pavilion Hosts match their schedules with available time slots. No prior experience is necessary.

Docent Training (for adults): June 19, 21, 21, 22 - 3:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Docents are volunteers trained to interact with guests on the live animal exhibit trail using educational props and live animals. Docents represent the Science Center at off-site events and also travel to assist naturalists with educational outreach programs. Docents must commit to 40 hours of training in their first year and 16 hours annually subsequently.
Cost: $50 (financial aid available) 

First Guides Training (for ages 14 to 17): June 28, 29, 30 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
First Guides is a teen volunteer program based on our adult docent program. Teens learn how to be a welcoming and informative presence for visitors, often demonstrating animal artifacts alongside adult docent mentors with live animals.
Cost: $50 (financial aid available) 

January 31, 2017

Stories to Tell - November Rut

By Eric D'Aleo, Naturalist

It’s amazing how much animal activity there is in the woods during the fall. Many hunters are aware of the movement of animals at this time, especially white-tailed deer, as they get ready for winter. The deer are busy feeding on the remaining green foliage in November and acorns to put on as much body fat as possible. It’s exciting to watch the changes that have occurred over the past few months on our trail cameras. Gone are the deer’s red coats of summer covered over by dark brown guard hairs of their winter coat which help them survive the cold weather. Fawns that once had spotted coats have grown and lost all trace of their baby coloration. The most noticeable change in the deer are the male’s antlers which have lost the velvet appearance revealing hard bone underneath to advertise their fitness to does and other males. All in time for the white-tailed deer’s breeding season, also known as the rut.

There was a lot of deer activity on our trail cameras from October through November. Most of it occurred late at night but there were times during the day when deer were active. It seems that several does and their offspring continued to routinely visit different locations on our property like they had during the summer. Yet one location, a crossing of two well-travelled paths, seemed to be visited by them most often. There was also evidence of more males on our property this fall than over the summer. There may have been as many as five bucks moving throughout the property. Some of them were young with small antlers but two were large bucks who spent a lot of time roaming around the woods looking for a doe that was ready to breed. Occasionally there would be a close up view of an antler on our camera, either because a buck was interested in it or was possibly choosing to investigate a young tree or sapling nearby where it could take out aggression by rubbing its antlers on the trees. Take a look the photos below.

Notice the difference in the color of the fur in the summer and the fall.
Fall coloring
Summer coloring

Although the fawn is not the same distance from the camera in each photograph, notice the disappearance of the spots by the fall.

Here are images of two different bucks from the same location.  Can you tell which one is more likely to be the dominant male?

Here are the two bucks again at different locations but exhibiting the same behavior.  They are smelling the ground for evidence of a female that is ready to breed.

This location proved to be a good spot for the does and their offspring to visit throughout the summer and into the fall.

This image was taken in early December.  Now with the breeding season over, the long winter begins.  When more snow accumulates, this area will be abandoned for stands of conifers that provide more protection for the deer from the elements.

January 25, 2017

Volunteers Give Generously to Science Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 25, 2017

Holderness, NH – Each year volunteers at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center donate their time and energy to support an organization near and dear to their hearts. Volunteers help in various capacities and areas including education docents; development and marketing; special events; office; Kirkwood Gardens; volunteer instructor; educator assistant; greeters; animal care; exhibits and maintenance; and First Guides teen volunteer program.
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center announced a total of 354 volunteers donated over 8,700 hours of service to the Science Center in 2016. According to the Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization that calculates the value of volunteer hour state by state, the Science Center 2016 volunteer service hours have a monetary value of over $206,000 for the year.

Approximately 62 million American adults volunteer annually in some way, with nearly 8 billion hours of service. Volunteering at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center is personally rewarding but also offers benefits for the volunteer including monthly luncheons and educational programs, a gift shop discount, a membership discount, free trail admission on the days a volunteer is volunteering, use of the education library, volunteer newsletter, and an invitation to the annual Parsons Volunteer Recognition Dinner.

“We are so fortunate to have such an incredible group of volunteers supporting the Science Center,” said Carol Raymond, Volunteer Manager at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. “There are so many wonderful stories and experiences that our volunteers provide for our visitors. We wouldn’t be the same organization today without our amazing volunteers.”

The Science Center offers Docent and First Guide teen volunteer training in June and July. Full details and dates will be available at nhnature.org.

To learn more about volunteering at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center please visit www.nhnature.org/who/volunteer.php.

January 4, 2017

Chickadee 2200-79973

By Dave Erler, Senior Naturalist

Black-capped Chickadees with their distinctive black, white, and gray plumage are a familiar bird in New England. Yet to most of us, when we see one Chickadee it looks just like another. Occasionally one stands out such as the one that comes to the feeders at my home. This individual is easy to identify due to its several white tail feathers, meaning it is piebald or partially albino. Rarely you might see one with several colored plastic bands attached to one leg. This means a local researcher, authorized by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, marked it to help identify the different birds in that local population.
As a permitted bird bander myself, I have the opportunity to meet up close and personal many Chickadees through annual banding activities here at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. But lacking authorization to place colored bands on birds’ legs, I only use small standard US Fish & Wildlife Service aluminum leg bands. Although each of these bands has a unique series of numbers etched in the aluminum, the numbers are far too small to read unless the bird is in hand. Once released you might be able to see a bird that has a band on its leg, but you really have to recapture the bird to actually identify it as a particular individual.

Over the past forty years I have banded well over a thousand Chickadees and recaptured nearly as many. You might think that after a bird has gone through the trauma of being captured once it would try to avoid being captured again. With Chickadees that doesn’t seem to be the case. A number of years ago I banded one Chickadee and recaptured it a dozen times in the same day it was banded! Still most of the Chickadees are only recaptured infrequently and usually within one to two years of having been banded. Indeed the average Chickadee only lives one to two years, but a few individuals survive much longer. That brings us to Chickadee 2200-79973.

I first “met” Chickadee 2200-79973 on February 9, 2005. I don’t know if this individual was a male or female as both sexes look alike for most of the year. The sexes can only be determined for a brief time during the breeding season, and then only while in the hand by peeking beneath the underside feathers. (Females have a brood patch on their bellies and males a distinct swelling at their rear end opening called a cloacal protuberance.) At the time of banding Chickadee 2200-79973 was an average Black-capped Chickadee with a 65 millimeter wing chord (wrist to longest feather), 63 mm tail, 10 mm bill, and a weight of 11 grams (there are 28.35 grams/ounce). This Chickadee was banded that day during a school program. The students not only got see this little guy or gal but had the opportunity to record the data, place the band on its leg, and release it. All agreed it was a special little bird, although I didn’t realize how special at the time.

The next time 2200-79973 was encountered was on January 7, 2006. Other than the tail feathers being 3 mm longer than the year before it seemed to be just the same. We didn’t see this feisty little character again until March 20, 2008. At that age it had it had already beaten the odds living much longer than 95% of Chickadees. On March 4, 2011, it was captured again making it the oldest surviving Chickadee I had ever banded. Then on February 28, 2014, I was really surprised, as you have probably guessed by now, 2200-79973 was waiting in one of the traps. I don’t know when this bird actually hatched, but the fact that it was banded in the winter of 2005 meant its minimum age was at least 10 years. Although the North American longevity record for a Black-capped Chickadee is twelve years, five months, this incredible little bird had survived three years longer than the next oldest Chickadee I have banded. It is going on nearly three years since 2200-79973 was last encountered, but you can bet that every time I take a Chickadee from one of the traps, I haven’t given up hope that he or she might just prove to be the ultimate Chickadee survivor. Or maybe after getting caught five times in ten years he or she might just have figured out how not to get caught!

If you would like to find out firsthand how we catch, measure, and band Chickadees and other birds that visit our feeding station, you can join us on the following weekends this winter, on January 7 and 21, February 4, 18, and 23, and March 1 and 4. See full details and schedule at http://www.nhnature.org/programs/calendar.php.

December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays

At this time of year we send happiest of holiday greetings to you and yours. May peace and nature fill your heart!

- From all of us at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center

December 19, 2016

Please Support the Annual Fund

The trails, classrooms, and exhibits were often busy with families, children, and school groups this year when more than 60,000 people visited the live animal exhibit trail from May 1 to November 1. No matter your age or when you visit, you can always have fun and learn something new at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center.

To maintain the excellence and educational joy of the hands-on visitor experience we ask you to make a donation to the Annual Fund. Your contributions help us to care for and feed our live animals, to maintain our buildings, trails, and exhibits, to provide support to our volunteers and staff, and to offer high quality natural science programs for all ages. Your gift – no matter its size or how you choose to give it – will help us fulfill our mission to advance understanding of ecology by exploring New Hampshire’s natural world. And if your employer matches contributions, you might even double your gift. Your donation, large or small, is much needed and will be much appreciated.

If you have already made a gift this year, thank you. If not, please consider doing so now. You can donate online or mail a check to SLNSC, PO Box 173, Holderness, NH 03245>

Thank you for your support!

December 5, 2016

Homeschool Programs

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center holds monthly homeschool programs for ages 4 to 6 and ages 7 to 10. Programs are held on the first Thursday of the month through April. 
Ages 7 to 10

Thursdays, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. 
January 5: Interrelationships
February 2: Populations
March 2: Habitats
April 6: Ecosystems
The primary interpretive focus of the Science Center's programs and exhibits is community ecology, which has four major concepts: Habitats, Adaptations, Populations, and Interrelationships (HAPI). Join us with your child to investigate these topics in depth.
All About Series
Ages 4 to 6
Thursdays, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

January 5: Skunks
February 2: Groundhogs
March 2: Owls
April 6: Turtles
Join us with your homeschooled child to learn all about New Hampshire wildlife. Ecah session considers a different group of living things through activities, hands-on experiences, and a meeting with a live animal.
Cost: $9/member child per session; $11/non-member child per session
An adult must participate with children at no additional cost. Each additional adult pays child fee. 
All Homeschool Programs align with the New Hampshire Science Framework.

October 17, 2016

Golden Memories

To celebrate our fiftieth anniversary we have been hearing from our past staff, volunteers, guests, and others who have shared their golden memories. Here are a few:

"I was introduced to Squam Lakes Natural Science Center when my children were young. It was a special place to visit with them, and with friends and family. Seeing the animals in their natural habitat, playing learning games at exhibits, and attending various summer camp weeks helped my children to learn about our natural world. I can't wait to bring my grandchildren to the Science Center in the near future!" -Barbara Laverack

"Boy, it would be difficult to narrow it down to just one memory. I enjoyed programs and field trips as a kid, which no doubt contributed to my continued interest in wildlife. I remember very vividly the snowy owl and of course the crooked-nosed doe from those elementary field trips. I have incredible memories from my time as an intern, guided discoveries instructor, and assistant naturalist (2003-2006). From taking baby bats and woodchucks home overnight to giving programs with raptors and small mammals, every day working with animals and kids was different, fun and exciting. I also had a lot of fun designing the 40th Anniversary timeline in the Webster Building. It's hard to believe that 10 years has passed since then! I am incredibly grateful to all of my mentors/co-workers/friends at the center from that time. The things I learned from you are deeply woven into my career as a science teacher and curriculum writer today! Happy 50th!" -Sarah Benton Feitlinger

"I have so many wonderful memories of being a "Future Naturalist" in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was such an amazing program and I feel very fortunate to have had those summers to spend working with and caring for NH wildlife at the Science Center. Those experiences and the memories of the individual animals I fed and cared for so many years ago continue to inspire my creative work today as a wood carver. Thank you to everyone who made this memorable part of my youth possible!" -Lisa Laughy

"The first time I remember going to Squam Lakes Natural Science Center was in 1992. I took my Dad and four year old my daughter. We walked the trails as far as Kirkwood garden, and then stopped in the shop that was there at that time. My daughter decided to get a brightly flowered umbrella. We started back towards the welcome center, but just before we got to the field, a thunderstorm blew through. We took shelter (probably at the raptors area) until the wind died down. She was so pleased to be able to use her umbrella for the rest of our walk. Little did I know then that less than ten years later I would be working at the Science Center and renting their pontoon boats to get married on Church Island. Now I am taking my grandson to the Science Center each year. Some places just become family." -Nancy Durgin

"Our son worked at the Science Center when he was a student at Holderness Central. He really looked forward to going to the Science Center on his 'work days' and came home pretty excited about what he had seen and done that day. He has since gone on to get his PhD in Forest Ecology at the University of California-Berkeley, and although his time at the Science Center is not totally responsible for that outcome, I know that his time at the Science Center was seminal to his interest in the natural sciences. As a side note, our daughters also baby sat for the children of one of the first directors of the Science Center, an experience that made us realize that Holderness and the Squam Lakes region had a wonderful establishment." -Larry Spencer