Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Date Night Fall 2016

Breaking News!
At our annual Clue date night, somebody murdered Mr. Bean! Nobody had seen who did it or how it was done. The crowd of detectives who assembled were the best in the business, however, and caught the culprit red handed! Or should we say... White handed? Mrs. White had committed the crime in Mr. Bean's own billiard room with a feather! The disappearances of her previous nine husbands are under current investigation. If you missed out on all the excitement, join us next semester for our winter date night! You never know what mysteries might ensue...

Friday, November 4, 2016

Halloween Family Night

Thanks to all the princesses, pokemon, jedi knights, sith lords, monsters, superheroes, wild animals, and 80's rock stars that joined us for our Halloween family Night!
We sure had a lot of fun with you guys this year! We made animals out of pipe cleaners, monsters out of paper bags, won prizes, took pictures in our photo booth, drew caricatures, and met the Conservation Kids, Katy and Ken! We even had some live animals join us throughout the evening at our Spooky live animal shows. Special thanks as well to Jim Fowers for sharing those beautiful owls with us that evening!

And hey, if you missed out, there's always next year...

Nature Experienceship - Wild Edibles with Tom Smith

Embracing our gatherer heritage we met together on Saturday the 15th in the basement of the Joseph Fielding Smith Building on BYU campus to be instructed by the BYU professor, Dr. Tom Smith. He shared some of his knowledge of edible plants, talked about books to look at like Stalking the Wild Asperagus, and then prepared some acorn flour muffins for us to eat later. As we wandered on campus we gathered acorns, both from White and Bur oaks. Native peoples lived off of acorns because, "they are just a package of fat!" Tom said, "You can't get that much energy from one food source!". We also gathered yew berries from yew bushes. While the leaves and stems are usually toxic, doctors have discovered a way they can be used to treat ovarian cancer. We also collected Oregon grapes (which taste like sour peas), the flowers, buds, and stems of the day lily (which taste like asparagus), and pine nuts from the local pinyon pine, a tree naturally abundant in Utah.  Tom also taught us about how you can eat wild sunflower seeds. Although they are tiny, you can mash them up to eat them. 
After traipsing all over BYU campus, finding all sorts of edible plants, we returned to the kitchen to whip up some wild concoctions. Our feast consisted of Oregon grape and smooth sumac juice (which is tart, like cranberry juice), acorn muffins, pine nut cookies, birch syrup, cacao beans (very bitter...), morrel mushrooms, bacon, and purslane (which is a succulent weed that grows in our gardens and tastes a lot like spinach when cooked.) 
Nature is still full of food that we can use, the key is simply knowing how and where to find it. Not as many plants are actually toxic as we expected. Most of these plants are not exactly what we are used to eating but they are worth knowing. And hey, at least now we can freak people out by eating, what is to them a random flower, but is actually a sweet and spicy nasturtium. 

Here are some pictures from the event. If you are ever interested in joining us for one of these Nature Experienceships, check our website for details on how to sign up!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Nature Experienceship - Birding with Merrill Webb

This week was an official changing point as summer turned to fall on Thursday September 22. And we sure felt it. Buckets and buckets of rain seemed to just be waiting for the signal. Although we were worried the rain might make things difficult, Nature Experiences’ Birding with Merrill Webb was still a huge success. We all were grateful for thick coats as we all gathered before dawn to begin our adventure. And what an adventure it was! Beginning at Utah Lake State Park we saw a huge number pelicans, seagulls, killdeer, osprey, and many more. Right as we were about to leave we saw a beautiful Merlin perched up in a tree This was quite the treat for us; we were so excited to see this rare, small species of falcon.
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After Utah Lake, we headed off towards Spanish Fork to a rural little area called Palmyra. Although worried that the rain might have driven them away, we were determined to hunt out the the magnificent Whooping Crane. And find them we did! Huge flocks of them flying overhead and standing idly in old corn fields. This definitely proved a highlight of the trip.

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Moving on, the third place we went to was Salem Pond. Considering how rainy and grey the day was, it was no surprise when we caught a bandit creeping around in the bushes: the Black-hooded Night Heron! His partner in crime was also there, the dipping and diving grebe. We felt especially lucky as we watched a mother grebe repeatedly dive under the water the find some food and bring it back to her little baby.
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Here is the more-or-less comprehensive list of all the birds we saw:
Canada Goose
Ring-necked Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Western Grebe
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night-crane
White-faced Ibis
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
American Coot
Sandhill crane
American Avocet
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Caspian Tern
Eurasian Collared-dove
Mourning Dove
Northern Flicker
Say’s Phoebe
American Robin
Tree Swallow
European Starling
American Crow
Black-billed Magpie

Again, we’d love to give a huge shout out to Merrill Webb, because without him, we would have just been a group of freezing kids standing around a pond asking “what’s that?” Fortunately, he knew all the answers.

Yours Truly,
The Bean Museum Educators

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Nature Experienceship - Insects with Dr. Shawn Clark

It may have been difficult for us to get up at 9 am for our Nature Experienceship with Dr. Shawn Clark, but apparently it was even harder for the insects. Ectothermic animals heat themselves using the sun, so these creatures didn’t come out until it’s nice and warm outside. We explored the museum’s massive insect collection until it warmed up enough for some bugs to make an appearance. Once the sun came out, we made our way to Hobble Creek. We dredged the river, swept the bushes, stayed good and clear of the hornet’s nest, and filled our bottles with all sorts of insects.