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New Book Arrivals - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 2:55pm

Even office work can be fulfilling

CLM Internship Blog - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 9:48am

The first half of the week has focused on the mounting and verification of more voucher specimens. These have been collected and identified by the previous Seeds of Success interns, some of whom obviously had a greater proclivity for the process than others. Luckily, verifying these specimens at the University of Nevada’s pristine and spacious herbarium provided many of our group members with an excellent opportunity to further their knowledge of ideal voucher specimen collection techniques. The herbarium curator, Arnold Tiehm, was exceedingly knowledgeable, helpful, and encouraging. He even invited us to attend a 2 day workshop on grass identification later next month.

As the week has progressed, our team has been focusing on furthering our knowledge of ArcGIS. Some of us are more familiar with the program than others, but we can all agree on the fact that it is an extremely powerful and indeed indispensable suite of software for environmental conservation. Another unexpected benefit to this program is that tons of these GIS training classes are offered to us free of charge. Many of these online classes typically cost hundreds of dollars!! An added kicker is that our access to these tutorials persists for a year after we have enrolled in them, affording us the opportunity to continue our studies of the material post internship!!

As the week has begun winding down, our supervisor has begun to assign team leads to several of the specific projects we have been working on. Since my MSc was in Ethnbotany I have been put in charge of collating the existing ethnobotanical data for a couple hundred plants in the region. Documenting the various indigenous usages of different species has always allowed me to commit them to memory much more easily than mere rote memorization. I am extremely excited to encounter more of these species in the field once the warm weather has arrived!

Until next time,

J

Check the Checklist Off My List!

CLM Internship Blog - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 9:46am

I am so close to being finished with my short-term CLM internship project. The project ended up consisting of an all-inclusive lichen checklist for the four southern-most National Forests of Region 5 aka California. Those National Forests are the San Bernardino, Angeles, Cleveland, and Los Padres. It is a very exhaustive list with all records referenced by the Consortium of North American Lichen Herbaria or publication by an expert lichenologist. My last few hours of my internship will be spent reviewing the checklist and making any necessary corrections with my mentor and the regional botanist who funded this project. After doing this I feel like I know all the southern CA lichens by name, but I still have yet to learn them by sight!

This position actually ended just in the nick of time because I just got hired with a timber company in northern CA doing rare plant surveys. The timber regulations when it comes to conservation are very strict here in California, so surveying usually needs to happen in critical habitat before action is taken on a timber harvest plan. I’m looking forward to experiencing work as a botanist in the private sector. It will be interesting to compare that experience with all of my prior experience working for the Forest Service.

Thanks CBG!

Students Learn that Science Can Be Beautiful

Youth Education - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 9:10am

The Garden has a bright and cheery answer for overcoming classroom winter doldrums: take a field trip to see the Orchid Show

 Students observe how orchids are adapted to the wet environment -- they grow aerial roots that can absorb water from the humid air.

Students observe how orchids are adapted to the wet environment—they grow aerial roots that can absorb water from the humid air.

At a time when schools are tightening budgets and limiting field trips, you might think that an Outrageous Orchids experience is a frivolous excursion—but, in fact, this is a luxurious way to learn life science principles. Our programs are grounded in fundamental science concepts outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards. From Valentine’s Day to St. Patrick’s Day, students get meaningful science lessons as they enjoy the sensational display of colors and aromas in our Greenhouses. 

Field trips are tailored to suit different grade levels. Younger students study the variety of color and shapes found in the exhibition to identify patterns. Early elementary level students examine the structures of orchids to understand their functions. Upper elementary students recognize how tropical orchids have adaptations for survival in a rainforest. These core ideas about orchids apply to all plants and are essential for understanding ecosystems. There isn’t a more beautiful way to study plant science anywhere else in the Chicago region.

 It is easy for students to see how this flashy orchid attracts pollinators as well as people.

It is easy for students to see how this flashy orchid attracts pollinators as well as people.

As if being surrounded by gorgeous flowers in the dead of winter weren’t enough to engage a person’s brain, each student also gets to transplant and take a tropical plant to continue the learning after the visit. 

The Baggie Terrarium is a mini-ecosystem that reminds students of the water cycle and enables them to observe plant growth. 

Make a Baggie Terrarium

 Baggie terrarium.

We call this a “baggie terrarium.”

Supplies:

  • 1 zip-top bag (quart-size or larger)
  • Potting soil, moistened
  • A small plant or plant cutting (during Outrageous Orchids classes, we let students take a spider plant “pup” from a very large spider plant)
  1. Pour soil into the bag to fill about 2-3 inches deep. Use a finger to create a hole in the soil for the plant.
  2. Bury the roots of the plant in the hole and gently tap the soil around the base of the plant. If you are planting a stem cutting, place the stem in the soil and tamp around the base. If you have a larger bag, you can add more than one plant. Three different plants in a gallon size bag can make an attractive terrarium.
  3. Seal the bag, leaving about a 1-inch opening. Blow into the bag to inflate it and quickly seal the last inch tight so the air doesn’t all escape. The carbon dioxide in your breath is good for the plant, and will give the bag enough substance to stand up.
  4. Place the terrarium in a bright location, but not in direct sunlight. Remember that most tropical plants grow under the canopy of taller trees and do not need full sun. In fact, too much direct sun makes their leaves fade!
  5. Watch for tiny water droplets forming on the sides of the bag. These will gradually roll down the sides of the bag and re-water the soil. As long as the bag is completely sealed, it will stay moist and you will never have to open the bag or add more water. But if it dries out, you will need to water the plants.

You can leave your terrarium alone for a long time and not do anything but watch the plants grow. Eventually, they will outgrow the bag. Then you can transplant them to a pot if you like, or take cuttings and start another baggie terrarium.

Like all of our programs, Orchid Show field trips inspire young people to learn more about plants! Visit our website at chicagobotanic.org/fieldtrips for more information about these programs. 

©2015 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Students Learn that Science Can Be Beautiful

Garden Blog - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 9:10am

The Garden has a bright and cheery answer for overcoming classroom winter doldrums: take a field trip to see the Orchid Show! 

 Students observe how orchids are adapted to the wet environment -- they grow aerial roots that can absorb water from the humid air.

Students observe how orchids are adapted to the wet environment—they grow aerial roots that can absorb water from the humid air.

At a time when schools are tightening budgets and limiting field trips, you might think that an Outrageous Orchids experience is a frivolous excursion—but, in fact, this is a luxurious way to learn life science principles. Our programs are grounded in fundamental science concepts outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards. From Valentine’s Day to St. Patrick’s Day, students get meaningful science lessons as they enjoy the sensational display of colors and aromas in our Greenhouses. 

Field trips are tailored to suit different grade levels. Younger students study the variety of color and shapes found in the exhibition to identify patterns. Early elementary level students examine the structures of orchids to understand their functions. Upper elementary students recognize how tropical orchids have adaptations for survival in a rainforest. These core ideas about orchids apply to all plants and are essential for understanding ecosystems. There isn’t a more beautiful way to study plant science anywhere else in the Chicago region.

 It is easy for students to see how this flashy orchid attracts pollinators as well as people.

It is easy for students to see how this flashy orchid attracts pollinators as well as people.

As if being surrounded by gorgeous flowers in the dead of winter weren’t enough to engage a person’s brain, each student also gets to transplant and take a tropical plant to continue the learning after the visit. 

The Baggie Terrarium is a mini-ecosystem that reminds students of the water cycle and enables them to observe plant growth. 

Make a Baggie Terrarium

 Baggie terrarium.

We call this a “baggie terrarium.”

Supplies:

  • 1 zip-top bag (quart-size or larger)
  • Potting soil, moistened
  • A small plant or plant cutting (during Outrageous Orchids classes, we let students take a spider plant “pup” from a very large spider plant)
  1. Pour soil into the bag to fill about 2-3 inches deep. Use a finger to create a hole in the soil for the plant.
  2. Bury the roots of the plant in the hole and gently tap the soil around the base of the plant. If you are planting a stem cutting, place the stem in the soil and tamp around the base. If you have a larger bag, you can add more than one plant. Three different plants in a gallon size bag can make an attractive terrarium.
  3. Seal the bag, leaving about a 1-inch opening. Blow into the bag to inflate it and quickly seal the last inch tight so the air doesn’t all escape. The carbon dioxide in your breath is good for the plant, and will give the bag enough substance to stand up.
  4. Place the terrarium in a bright location, but not in direct sunlight. Remember that most tropical plants grow under the canopy of taller trees and do not need full sun. In fact, too much direct sun makes their leaves fade!
  5. Watch for tiny water droplets forming on the sides of the bag. These will gradually roll down the sides of the bag and re-water the soil. As long as the bag is completely sealed, it will stay moist and you will never have to open the bag or add more water. But if it dries out, you will need to water the plants.

You can leave your terrarium alone for a long time and not do anything but watch the plants grow. Eventually, they will outgrow the bag. Then you can transplant them to a pot if you like, or take cuttings and start another baggie terrarium.

Like all of our programs, Orchid Show field trips inspire young people to learn more about plants! Visit our website at chicagobotanic.org/fieldtrips for more information about these programs. 

©2015 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Apple / Marcia Reiss.

New Book Arrivals - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 2:50pm

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