As I prepare for the 2018 version of the Camp Silver Eagle Challenge on July 17-21, I have been thinking about last summer’s version of the annual intergenerational summer enrichment program.
The Creative Learning 50+ Silver Eagles soared into the 2017-2018 program year last July with the camp that included 25 adults and children ranging in ages from 5-94. They enjoyed diversified programs that focused on conservation best practices for their backyards and the community as an extension of their backyard habitats.
The fun and educational programs were presented each day from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Hinds’ Ted Kendall Ag Complex McKenzie Facility. Presenters were Mississippi State University Extension Service staff horticulturist Donna Beliche, Hinds County Extension Agent Kyle Lewis and Bill Maily, extension associate.
Clifton Reed of Edwards, a member of the Mississippi Fruit Growers Association, shows how to graft a fruit tree.
As the coordinator for the Institute for Lifelong Learning 50+ programs, I was the facilitator.
Program topics included the 2017 Focus Pollinator: The Butterfly. Participants learned the differences between a butterfly and a moth. They were then shown a beautiful video called “Backyard Activity,” followed by an informative PowerPoint presentation on Mississippi Butterflies and the best backyard habitat for attracting them; Birding Focus: “Birds of a Feather, Flock Together, or Do They?”
Participants enjoyed a comical video that had the whole classroom in laughter, “Birds High Fashion Show,” followed by Birding Basics 101, where participants learned about what makes a bird a bird, their unique differences and fundamentals of bird watching.
The Herb Gardening Made Easy-Indoors or Out! Program began with some “words to the wise” from nature from the video clip “The Daffodil Principle.” It was followed by an informative program on the “Revival of Herbs for Home Use,” learning the “how to” on these easy-to-grow plants, which part to harvest (root, leaves, flower or seed) and more.
Another program was the “Struts & Ruts: Ecology of the Wild Turkey, and Whitetail Deer History and Biology.” Did you know there are five sub-species of wild turkey? Well, that is just one of the things the participants in this learning adventure found out about the Mississippi Wild Turkey.
In that session, campers learned about the uses of deer in early history, the decline in deer numbers in the early years, the beginning of conservation laws and regulations, the 1029 Mississippi game survey, the restoration program, Deer Biology 101 and the importance of record keeping and more.
Program-related activities included a live demonstration of the butterfly life cycle stages from eggs to adult stages. Participants monitored and tended to the daily care of butterfly larvae in a life cycle house, provided by the MSU insect observatory. It was fascinating to be able to observe and be a part of the process.
Participants made journal entries each morning as to the progress of the larvae, noting how close any might be to hatch- out, cleaning the “feeding” sponges and re-applying a “nectar” to the clean sponge of a mixed sugar solution.
Once a hatched butterfly had been given time to receive some feedings and had wing strength, they were taken outside and released. The camp achieved a 90 percent completion rate, releasing eight butterflies by week’s end! Each participant also completed their own hanging herb garden using inexpensive dollar store shoe bags and sun catchers.
All participants are assessed throughout the week and earn points toward awards and special recognitions as part of the event’s Eagle Challenge, for the top team, adult men, adult women, a youth and children, boys and girls. Then we gave the coveted 3-E award, Eagle-Extra-Effort. The awards and special recognitions are presented as part of the closing festivities of a week of fun, stimulating and challenging learning adventures in conservation.
Silver Eagles always welcome faculty and staff to join them for the classroom presentation segments of the programs for PDI. We welcome and encourage those home-schooled and anyone seeking community service opportunities!
Each year Operation-Conservation, offers new and educationally stimulating programming focusing on best conservation practices for our community.
Some examples of previous programs have included Soil and Water Quality studies, gardening techniques, Beneficial insects and others to Our Gardens, Worms + Composting = Great Gardens!, Dendrology (The Study of Trees), Grafting Techniques, Rooting Plant Cuttings, Birding, Recycle-Reduce-Repurpose, Going Wild: MS native reptile species, Water and the Hydrological Cycle, Garden Smarter not Harder-Easy Accessible Gardening Structures for the Physically challenged, Fisheries Days-Managing Farm Ponds and Small Lakes, Weed Identification and Control and Identification of Common Fishes in MS Fresh Water.
And these represent only some of our programs that we have offered! Have you got what it takes? Are you ready to take the Silver Eagle Conservation Challenge?
For more information and to register, contact me, Melody Field, at 601.857.3773.