The Nature Club holds monthly programs the second Thursday of each Month from September through June which start at 7:00 PM and usually last from one to two hours. We have programs to educate our members on varied topics from plants, insects, birds, bees, amphibians, fossils, and mammals to constellations, local history, archaeology, conservation, and current events. Turnout for a Nature Club meeting is usually between 50 and 80 people of all ages. The Nature Club is always looking for new program ideas. If you have an idea for a program you can contact our program coordinator Rich Dilks at (856) 468-6342.
Program: Upcoming Programs
Flora of the Califonia Deserts: (A Sampling) & Other Curious Things
Thursday, January 10, 2019 at 7:00 pm at the Holy Nativity Lutheran Church, Wenonah, NJ (directions below)
Presenter: Rich Dilks
Program Coordinator: Rich Dilks 856-468-6342
Deserts are strange places. The first thing you notice is the immensity of scale. It is a landscape that dwarfs you and at the same time engages you with the smallest of wonders- a delicate wildflower arising from bone dry pebbles and sand, a lizard scampering among some boulders, a darkling beetle racing across hot sands. I’ve been to the California deserts several times and love those places. Admittedly, I have made my journeys there in the spring, when the desert climate is most benign, and when I came in search of the ephemeral flora that graces the deserts for just a few short weeks each year. I found many other things there as well- mud caves, wind caves, stone pumpkins and other odd rock formations, the incredible vista at Fonts’s Point where the sediments scoured from the depths of the Grand Canyon form a magnificent badlands landscape, a desert palm oasis and, of course, the remarkable Joshua trees.
There are two desert ecosystems in California: the Mojave, sometimes called the high desert, and the Colorado, a part of the Sonoran desert in the extreme south eastern part of the state. We will be visiting both in this presentation. Far from being barren wastelands, they are teeming with the diversity of life, life that has adapted to the harsh arid climate and temperature extremes. Join me as we travel into the California deserts to experience a sampling of their wildflowers, and to glimpse the austere and powerful beauty of these truly awesome places.
Directions: The Holy Nativity Lutheran Church is located just off Rt 553 (Woodbury-Glassboro Rd.) immediately south of the traffic light at Mantua Ave. The church parking lot can be accessed by entrances on either Woodbury-Glassboro Road or Lenape Trail (first left off of Mantua Ave).
- October '18: New Jersey’s Fish Hawk - The Amazing Osprey
- September '18: Introduction to the Mushrooms and Other Fungi of the NJ Pine Barrens
- June '18: The Plight of the Bob White and Our Efforts to Save It
- May '18: Pollinators and the Plants They Pollinate
- April '18: Exploring the Birds of Ecuador
- March '18: Salt Marshes of Delaware Bay
- February '18: Annual GCNC Pot Luck Dinner and An Evening of Sharing by GCNC Members
- January '18: Biking across the Eastern Continental Divide: Pittsburgh to Washington DC
- December '17: Birds of New Jersey’s Winter Landscape>
- November '17: Winter Wildlife of the Yellowstone Ecosystem
- October '17: ‘Pack-rafting’ the Escalante: Rafting and Backpacking a Desert River
- September '17: The Legacy of Promise: James Still, Doctor of the Pines
- June '17: Surfskis, Outrigger Canoes, Kayaks, Lifejackets, Rescue Throw bags, Paddles - Up Close & Personal
- May '17: A Green Legacy: John Burroughs and the Catskill Mts.
- April '17: Birds of Gloucester County and Tips on Photographing Them
- March '17: Vulture Culture: A Face Only a Mother Could Love
- February '17: Adventures in Paddling for Clean Water and a Healthy Ocean
- January '17: A Practical Guide to Plant Propagation
- December '16: An Amazon Expedition with the Earthwatch Organization
- November '16: Protecting South Jersey’s Waters : The Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer
- October '16: Tales from the Wood Wide Web: A Timeless Connection of People and Trees
- September '16: Night Hunters of the Skies (Owls)
- June '16: Bluebirds
- May '16: The Season of the Horseshoe Crab
- April '16: A Panama Adventure
- March '16: A Journey Through Time and Space: Exploring the Ancient Landscapes of Ireland
- February '16: GCNC Night at the Movies: Bag it!
- January '16: "If you build it, they will come" (Backyard Habitat for Birds)
- December '15: Yellowstone
- November '15: Spring Wildflowers of the Great Smoky Mountains
- October '15: Reptiles and Amphibians of Southern New Jersey
- September '15: The Curing Fox: Coming Home to Nature in the Modern World
- June '15: Annual Picnic and walk at Alcyon Park
- May '15: An African Adventure
- April '15: Bird Identification Workshop
- March '15: Sacred Landscapes
- February '15: River Stone Painting & Nature Story Sharing
- January '15: Fossils of New Jersey’s Coastal Plain
- December '14: The Galapagos
- November '14: A Journey Down The Mullica River
- October '14: The Pine Barrens: Up Close & Natural
- September '14: Bats of New Jersey
- June '14: Annual Picnic and Butterfly Garden Tour
- May '14: Spiders
- April '14: Costa Rica: A World of Nature
- March '14: Splendors of the Sierra Nevadas: Hiking the John Muir Trail
- February '14: Snow - No meeting
- January '14: Steinbeck, Ed Ricketts and California’s Central Coast: A Tale of Symbiotic Friendship and Love of the Natural World
- December '13: Iron
- November '13: New Jersey Birds and Beyond
- October '13: Wildlife Safari in Tanzania
- September '13: Purple Crow Butterflies – the Taiwan “Cousins” of Monarch Butterflies
- May '13: The Fossils at Inversand and the KT Boundary Mass Extinction
- April '13: Birding South Carolina
- March '13: The Little Things That Run The World
- February '13: Snow - No meeting
- January '13: Orion the Hunter - In ancient Greece, the greatest hunter of all was Orion. A slayer of fierce animals and monsters, Orion was a giant of a man and the hero of excess. The best-known winter constellation, he was cloaked in various forms and names: Lord of All Creatures. Light of the Sky. Gilgamesh. Osirus. Siktut the Seal Hunters. The Dancing Young Men. In fact and legend, Orion's reach extends beyond this Earth to the darkest core of human imagination and to the outer limits of our galaxy. For the hunt is a fact of nature. not just a human pursuit. The whole world is a hunt. Each of us, all living things, hunt. We had a fascinating time exploring Orion and hunting. in culture and endeavor, imagination and story.
- December '12: The Art and Craft of Terrariums - Horticulturalist, plant expert, author and Triple Oaks Nursery owner Lorraine Kiefer presented a lecture/demonstration on how to create and maintain a terrarium. Using attractive native species* such as Teaberry, Partridgeberry and Striped Wintergreen. Lorraine showed us how to create a miniature landscape in a glass bowl that can provide beauty and interest throughout the seasons. After the demonstration, Lorraine conducted a terrarium workshop to allow members of the group to build their own terrariums.
- November '12: The South Jersey Land & Water Trust: Preserving Our Natural Lands & Protecting Our Waters - Michael Hogan, noted nature photographer and the SJL&WT’s Habitat Assessment Coordinator gave us an update on the many and varied projects the Land Trust has undertaken. We are indeed fortunate to have an organization, such as the SJL&WT, working to keep our environment healthy and making sure that natural areas and open space will be an important part of our region’s future.
- October '12: Thoreau, Walden Pond & the Emergence of the Environmental Movement - In 1845, an amateur naturalist built a toy house on the edge of a ravaged woodlot haunted by freed slaves. and became the founding saint of the modern environmental movement. Today Walden Pond is a symbol of profound significance, having influenced and inspired some of our finest artists and authors: NC Wyeth, Annie Dillard, Don Henley, Joseph Wood Krutch, Henry Beston, Jack Kerouac and Arlo Guthrie to name a few. Thousands of people make a pilgrimage to Walden every month (in the 1990's, 10,000 people a month visited Walden in winter, more than 100,000 in July). But seeing Walden Pond and understanding Thoreau is not as easy as going there. Erik Mollenhauer guided us through an exploration of the legacy of Henry Thoreau and Walden Pond.
- September '12: Beavers and the Story of Unexpected Wildlife Refuge - Sarah Summerville, Director of Unexpected Wildlife Refuge told us how beavers help create habitat for other wildlife, help conserve water and reduce flooding and soil erosion. Sarah also told the story of how the Unexpected Wildlife Refuge was created.
- May '12: Rare and Endangered Plants of Southern New Jersey - Renee Brecht of Millville, New Jersey gave us a glimpse into the world of some of our rare local flora. She explained how there are many different habitats and ecological niches present in Southern New Jersey’s inner and outer coastal plains that support a great variety of plant communities. Further, the ranges of many northern and southern species also converge in New Jersey.
- April '12: The Great Florida Birding Trail - GCNC member Joe Baur has been exploring the rich natural heritage of Florida for the last decade. The main focus of Joe's presentation was on the sites along the Great Florida Birding Trail. The Great Florida Birding Trail includes almost 500 sites connected by a 2,000-mile self-guided highway trail. On a more localized scale, Joe described the fifteen-year plan Pinellas County has developed to connect all its bicycle trails and parks and how they are paying for it. He also presented photos of the birds he has encountered along the trail, his back yard, front yard, causeways, bridges, golf courses and around power plants. After all, you never know where or when a bird might be posing so always have a camera handy.
- March '12: Dazzling Dragonflies - The beauty of a dragonfly is more subtle and more austere than a butterfly’s. With speed, power and economy of design, these colorful and fierce predators are masters in their world as they patrol the ponds and streams or perch motionless on a slender stem. Intriguing and fascinating to us, they are found in the myths, legends and art of many cultures. Dragonflies have been on Earth for 325 million years. In the Carboniferous, some reached enormous size with wingspans of a meter (30 in.). Today they play an important and beneficial role in the natural world, keeping the populations of many insect species under control. Presenter Mary Lenahan taught us about the magical life cycle of the insects from the Order Odonata. We learned about the common species found in our area and how to identify them using the many available resources that she displayed. Mary also recounted her fascinating experiences with raising dragonfly and damselfly naiaids.
- February '12: My Favorite Book About Nature. - We all have a special book that has connected us to the natural word, a book that speaks directly to us and has moved us or inspired us see and experience nature in a way we hadn’t before. Maybe it was a book we read in childhood or a book we just finished the other day. Maybe it was an illustrated children’s book, or perhaps a book of poetry, scientific discovery, natural history or a wonderful story that ever after resides in memory and imagination. After our traditional February Pot luck Dinner, club members were able to bring in nature books that they loved and shared them with fellow club members in an informal and friendly setting. Book choices not only gave other members new items to add to their reading lists, but also provided us with an opportunity to get to know our fellow members a little better.
- January '12: Trickster Makes This World - Since earliest times people have told stories. “Trickster” stories were common to many cultures. A notorious shape-shifter and cultural hero, Trickster was also a constant wanderer. In ancient Greece, Trickster was Hermes… messenger of the gods and guide to boundaries and the travelers who cross them. In West Africa, Trickster was Anansi… the spider. North American Indians saw Trickster as The Raven, Old Man Coyote, The Rabbit… and more. The fact that Trickster stories appear in widely separate and very different cultures suggests Trickster stories may serve an important role in human development. Club members Erik and Kris Mollenhauer and Brian Hayes were very entertaining as they told us stories that revealed the world of the Trickster.
- December ’11: A Birding Adventure in Cuba - Wenonah resident Marilyn Henry took the opportunity to travel to the island nation of Cuba this past year in the company of a group of expert birders. Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, with its tropical climate and diverse habitats, is home to some of the most amazing birds in the world. 368 species of birds in 54 families have been noted in Cuba. There are 14 endangered species and 25 species, such as the Bee Hummingbird (the world’s smallest bird), the Cuban Amazon Parrot and Grundlach’s Hawk, which are found nowhere else. On her journey, Marilyn explored and captured with the camera not only Cuba’s birds but the beauty of the land, the rich history, the architecture and the people of this nation so geographically close to us yet so little known to most Americans after a half century of political and diplomatic isolation.
- November ’11: The Hidden Life of Streams: Leaf Packs – Club members Erik and Kris Mollenhauer presented us with a look at the hidden life of streams. Autumn leaffall is an event of huge importance to the life of streams. As leaves fall from overhanging trees and shrubs into streams, they collect and accumulate with other small floating debris (twigs, bark, seeds, flowers), forming natural leaf packs. These packs get lodged against rocks or other obstructions and begin to decay. Leaf packs provide food and habitat for an array of stream organisms, including many aquatic forms of insects that often go unnoticed because of their size and habits. Assessing the abundance and variety of these organisms in leaf-packs can tell us something about habitat and water quality. Meeting attendees worked in small groups with low-power microscopes and other tools to explore an actual leaf-pack.
- October ’11: Iceland – Like Hawaii, Iceland is a volcanic island that floats over a hot spot in the earth’s crust. Icelandic scenery runs to extremes. Views of fjords, mountains, and distant glaciers are spectacular. Green valleys dotted with an occasional farmstead, and bordered by high cliffs that are laced with waterfalls, are unlike anything in North America. Seabird colonies may have millions of puffins, fulmars, and kittiwakes. There are places in Iceland that make Yosemite look like a crowded slum. At the other extreme, areas such as the high fells, glacial outwash sands (sandur), and ash fields and lava flows are seriously bleak and almost completely lifeless. In 2008, Karl Anderson and Gale Cannon spent two weeks driving the 2000-mile circumference of the nation, looking at scenery, thermal features, wildflowers, and birds (but not mammals or reptiles). They shared some of their experiences and photographs with us.
- September ’11: Raising Butterflies & Insect Pollination: (How Insects Sustain the World) – Presenter Diane Cameron shared her experience in raising butterflies, talked about their importance as pollinators, and explained her efforts as part of Monarch Watch to increase public awareness of monarchs and the threats that they face due to habitat loss. Diane also brought along a portable rearing chamber containing live caterpillars and chrysalides.
- June ’11: Annual Picnic and Nature Walk at Wenonah Lake – Club members met at the pavilion at Wenonah Lake for our annual picnic. After dinner we took a relaxing walk on the trail along the lake. The woodlands surrounding the lake are part of the Wenonah Conservation Area. The area is botanically rich and diverse, and a haven for wildlife.
- May ’11: Reconnecting the Web: Native Plants in Gardens and Landscaping & 2011 Annual Plant Sale – Native plants are part of an ecosystem of interdependent life - the web of life- that connect plants to the survival of fungi, insects, birds and mammals, in short, to just about everything else. Mr. Alan Koch, Senior Landscape Architect for Gloucester County Parks and Recreation is a practicing landscape architect who has had the opportunity to put native plants into use in the public spaces of Gloucester County. He shared creative ways to make our gardens ‘greener’ by using native plants and emphasized the importance of restoring native plants into the environment to conserve water, decrease insecticides and establish wildlife habitats. An avid gardener himself, Alan brought along a slide show of his own garden and offered tips and advice for how we all can create beautiful, environmentally friendly gardens and outdoor spaces, and how we all can be a part of reconnecting the web of life around us.
- April ’11: Creatures of the Miocene Seas – The Miocene Epoch is a vanished world that existed between 23 and 5.3 million years ago and was a part of the great Age of Mammals that began 65 million years ago with the extinction of dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous. On land the Miocene has been called the Age of Grasslands for those habitats first arose in abundance during that time as did the many grassland mammals such as species of horses, rhinoceros, camels, and antelope-like mammals. The Miocene seas were also teeming with life. Our speaker Ken Mackenzie (The Fossil Shark Man), told us about these amazing creatures, some species long extinct and some still with us, which swam the ancient seas. He also shared his vast and astounding collection of Miocene marine fossils. Ken has spent many years not only collecting these fossils, many from the Miocene deposits of eastern North Carolina, but studying the world in which these creatures lived and its connections with our own. Ken was gracious enough to bring along a bucket of unexamined Miocene sediments, and allowed us all an opportunity to be a fossil hunter by letting us sift through the sediments for a shark tooth or other fossil treasure to take home.
- March ’11: Snakes of the New Jersey Pine Barrens - 23 species of snakes are native to New Jersey and many of these are found in the Pine Barrens. They range from the common and familiar Eastern Garter Snake and Black Rat Snake to the beautifully colored and state endangered Corn Snake, the arboreal Rough Green Snake, the state threatened Northern Pine Snake and the state endangered Timber Rattlesnake (found in both the NJ Highlands and the Pine Barrens). David W. Schneider, New Jersey Regional Manager of Herpetological Associates has 30 years of experience with New Jersey Pine Barrens species and is an expert in the ecology of this region. David taught us about this diverse group of reptiles, why they are important and beneficial to the natural ecology and why they are creatures to be appreciated and respected rather than feared. He also brought along some live snakes for us to see and even touch.
- February ’11: Traditional Pot Luck Dinner & The Fungus Kingdom – How often have we walked through the woods, or even our own back yards, on a late summer day after a rain to encounter a fairy ring of strange and colorful mushrooms where that day before there was nothing? Dr. John Dighton, Director of Pinelands Research at the Rutgers University Pinelands took us on a journey through the fungus kingdom with a particular emphasis on the fungi of the New Jersey Pinelands. Dr. Dighton is an expert on forest soil ecology and has extensively studied the interactions of forest trees with mycorrhizal fungi (fungi that interact with the roots of vascular plants).
- January ’11: The Natural & Unnatural History of Dragons - Until modern times, sightings of dragons were quite common as they breathed fire, hoarded treasure and terrorized both villagers and kings. If livestock went missing, it must be a dragon. Strange noises from the mountain? Dragon. Damsel in distress? Dragon. Stories of dragons are woven in cultures across Asia and Europe, the Middle East and even in the Americas and Australia. In this program we searched for the origin of dragons and ponder their demise. How were they able to breathe fire? Why did they thirst for gold? Will they return? Brian Hayes and Erik Mollenhauer used science, history, legend and story to explore the realm of dragons.
- December '10: Only Time and the River Flowing: A Trip Down the Tatshenshini River -
- November '10: The Swamp Pink -
- October '10: Teaching The Trees: Lessons from the Forest & Getting to Old Growth -
- September '10: The Animal Kingdom -
- June '10: Picnic at Scotland Run Park (Clayton) & Awakening Spirits: The Art and Science of Tracking -
- May '10: Hummingbirds and Hummingbird Gardening & 2010 Annual Plant Sale -
- April '10: The Hawks of Southern New Jersey -
- March '10: Gaviotas: A Village To Reinvent The World -
- February '10: Was to be Traditional Pot Luck Dinner and programs: Cargo For Conservation and The GCNC - Images From Our Past - SNOWED OUT!
- January '10: Tales of Turtle Tails -
- December '09: The Maurice River, a River Worth Protecting. -
- November '09: The Pedricktown Marsh: An Ecological Treasure in Gloucester County -
- October '09: The Natural and Unnatural History of Oaks -
- September '09: Rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon -
- June '09: Picnic at Red Bank Battlefield and The Art of Karen Paust -
- May '09: Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens & 2009 Annual Plant Sale -
- April '09: Sustainable World: Climate Change & the Future of Human Endeavor -
- March '09: The Migration of Birds in Gloucester County – The Flying Colors of Spring -
- February '09: Down Jersey: The Songs and Stories of Jim Albertson and Traditional Pot Luck Dinner -
- January '09: Owls of New Jersey -
- December '08: The Long Thaw: How People Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth’s Climate -
- November '08: Threatened And Endangered Plants of the New Jersey Pine Barrens -
- October '08: New Jersey Archaeology & Paleohistory: Flint Knapping -
- September '08: Discovering Newfoundland -
- June '08: Picnic at Scotland Run Park (Clayton) -
- May '08: The Horseshoe Crab Lab and 2008 Annual Plant Sale -
- April '08: Some Birds of Panama -
- March '08: The Sport and Adventure of Geocaching -
- February '08: Was to be Traditional Pot Luck Dinner and Craft & Eco-Art Night -
- January '08: Mammals and Mammal Skulls of New Jersey -
- December '07: The History of the Christmas Bird Count - Various speakers explored the history of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, explained how the Count is conducted, and shared some experiences of the Count.
- November '07: Bringing Water to South Jersey - Representatives from New Jersey American Water Company presented the full story on how their company helps provide drinking water to our region. They also told us all about the American Water Company, which has a long history back to 1886 and is currently serving over 16 million customers in several states by operating over 350 water and wastewater systems.
- October '06: Herpetology - Herpetologist Ed Kowalski from the Philadelphia Zoo presented a fascinating program on the subject of reptiles which focused mainly on turtles.
- September '07: The Glass Art and Personal Journey of Paul Stankard - Paul Stankard is an artist of international reputation and renown. His glass sculptures have been exhibited and admired in museums and galleries around the globe. Those who have been fortunate enough to have seen his work cannot but marvel at the exquisite detail of blossom or leaf lovingly recreated in glass. His is an artistic vision that is intimately connected to the natural world and infused with a love and knowledge of our native plants that inspire so much of his work. Thus he is both artist and naturalist. Paul will tell us this evening about his art, his craft and the personal journey of his life. Poet as well as sculptor, he will share with us his vision. Paul lives and works in Mantua, NJ and is truly one of Gloucester County’s and the world’s living treasures.
- June '07: Annual Picnic, Scotland Run Park - Club members met at the pavilion at Scotland Run Park for our annual picnic, and a surprise baby shower for Paula and Brian Hayes (past club president). After dinner we took a relaxing walk along the park's trails.
- May '07: Gardening Naturally and Annual Plant Sale - Lorraine Kiefer of Triple Oaks Nursery in Franklinville, NJ has been the author of a weekly gardening column for over 35 years and is co-author of the book, "Best Garden Plants for New Jersey". Lorraine is an articulate advocate of using native plants in our gardens and landscaping. Native plants are adapted to our climate and conditions, disease resistant and require less watering and feeding to thrive than do exotics. Lorraine explained this philosophy of gardening naturally and also offered a wealth of practical information on such topics as New Jersey’s garden zones, soil preparation, planting techniques and plant choices. After the presentation, Lorraine graciously agreed to hold a book signing for "Best Garden Plants for New Jersey."
- April '07: Tropical Rainforests and New Jersey’s Extraordinary Songbirds - Each spring our songbirds return. The vireos, the many species of warblers (over 50 in North America), Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Bunting and more arrive at just the right time at just the right place to feed on the emergent insect populations and play their vital role in maintaining healthy forests. Have you ever wondered where they go when they’ve “gone south” and what their lives are like in the far off tropics? Dr. Emile D. DeVito, Manager of Science and Stewardship at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation told us how these amazing birds exist in and travel between two worlds and live their lives in two ecosystems: the lush and exotic neo-tropics and the forests and meadows of temperate North America.
- March '07: Landscapes of The New Jersey Pinelands and Delaware Bay - Phtotographer Michael Hogan took take us on a journey to some of his favorite places to photograph and explore in the New Jersey Pinelands and Delaware Bayshore. Michael shared his knowledge and enthusiasm for these special places of great natural beauty and ecological diversity that are so near and so extraordinary. We visited the vast grass marshes of the Bayshore with their abundant bird life and wandered through the Pinelands with its quiet streams, rare Orchids and unique flora and fauna. After the program, Michael held a book signing for his recently published "Natural Wonders of The New Jersey Pines and Shore". It was a reminder that New Jersey is still a place of natural wonders.
- February '07: Sharing Our Culture: From A Native American Perspective? - We again celebrated winter with our traditional February Pot Luck Dinner, after which we were treated to a presentation by Jean Red Raven Kilian, a Mi’kmaq Native American and GCNC member. Jean took us into the world of Native American cultures and traditions, and explored the arts, crafts, dress, customs, beliefs and legends of Native American peoples. This was an entertaining, enriching and enlightening program that focused not only on the values of Native American cultures, but on the meaning those values have for us all.
- January '07: Fossil Legends of the First Americans: Fact or Fiction? - Erik Mollenhauer of the Nature Club presented a fascinating program that focused on the beliefs of native Americans who told tales of Giants… marsh monsters… witch buffalo… thunderbirds… little people… and other “mythical” creatures which were inspired by the fossils that they found. Since then, modern archaeology has shown that many kinds of fossils were collected and used by native Americans.
- December '06: Eco Art - The Goldsworthy Lesson - Lee Whitehead, artist and Arts Director at YMCA Camp Ockanickon, presented a program that demonstrated the principles of eco art that was inspired by the works of British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. This was an evening of fun, discovery, and creativity that hopefully inspired the artist in all of us.
- November '06: Birds of the Caucasus - Georgia is a mountainous country in the Caucasus region, and is considered to be one of the “world’s 25 biologically richest and most endangered terrestrial ecosystems”. Georgia has an extremely varied landscape ranging from semi-desert to humid subtropical forests. Within a few hundred miles, travelers may cross over Black Sea wetlands, mountain steppes, pistachio savannahs, alpine meadows, and the high peaks of the Caucasus mountain ranges. Rafael Antonio Galvez, who co-authored and illustrated a field guide to “Raptors and Owls of Georgia” gave a presentation on birds of the Caucasus and their relation to the dynamic landscape of the region. This audio-visual discussed the impact of humanity on raptors. This program was an uncommon opportunity to explore with an expert guide the rare and exotic bird life of this far-off land.
- October '06: Hawaii - What Price Globalization? - Club member Marie Hageman presented and assessment on the effects that many generations of haole (visitors) have had on endemic birds, plants, the land, and the surrounding ocean. She told of the impacts from the first inhabitants, with their aloha aina (love of the land), through whalers and merchant traders, to today’s tourism boom of 7 million visitors/year.
- September '06: Encountering Backyeard Wildlife - Vicki Schmidt, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, presented a fascinating program that familiarized us with the wild animals that live all around us. She explained techniques used to save animals that have become victims of oil spills and other environmental hazards, and how an animal can be restored to health and returned to the wild.
- June '06: Annual Picnic, Chestnut Branch Park - Club members met at the pavilion at Chestnut Branch Park for a pot-luck dinner and good conversation. AFter dinner we had a nice walk throug the varied habitats of the park. A great ending to a great year!
- May '06: The Race to Save the Lord God Bird: The Story of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker - The Club's own Kris Mollenhauer told the story of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. She told us of a fascinating and vital history; from the guys who loved them, shot them by the dozen, and sold them to collectors the world over, to the first modern ecologists who arose in the 1930s. The story of the Ivory-bill is a cautionary tale of how species become scarce, with lessons that are important in the context of other places and other species, including Gloucester County.
- April '06: Organic Farming and Sustainable Agriculture at The Muth Family Farm - We have all heard the words “organic” and “natural” in connection with food and agricultural products without perhaps knowing exactly what these words imply about the produce we buy. Bob Muth of The Muth Family Farm explained to us what organic farming really is and how sustainable agricultural practices that are in harmony with the environment can provide products that are wholesome, attractive and economically competitive. He revealed to us how a successful organic farm operates and explained the importance of these innovative techniques for the future of agriculture.
- March '06: 1491: The Americas before Columbus - The club's own Erik Mollenhauer presented a program that highlighted what was the New World like in the time before Columbus arrived. The wild, pristine American forest of the first colonists was in fact in the midst of violent change and demographic collapse. We learned of firemasters and 500 nations, of passenger pigeons and distant mammoths, of holocaust and survival.
- February '06: Nature Pictures and Pot Luck - Each Club member brought a favorite nature-related photo, painting, or drawing to share with the group. The stories that went with these items were just as fascinating as the pictures themselves. There was plenty of food for all, including some truly specatacular desserts. This club sure knows how to cook!
- January '06: Wilson, Audubon, Ord, and a Flycatcher - In advance of our March field trip to the first American residence of Audubon at Mill Grove, Jeff Holt spoke on the history of Audubon’s signature work. He explained how Audubon’s relationship with Alexander Wilson (the father of American Ornithology) influenced the publication of The Birds of America, and provided a glimpse into the complex process required in the early 1800’s to produce and publish such a unique historical and artistic work.
- December '05: The History of the Christmas Bird Count - Various speakers explored the history of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, explained how the Count is conducted, and shared some experiences of the Count.
- November '05: Bringing Water to South Jersey - Representatives from New Jersey American Water Company presented the full story on how their company helps provide drinking water to our region. They also told us all about the American Water Company, which has a long history back to 1886 and is currently serving over 16 million customers in several states by operating over 350 water and wastewater systems.
- October '05: Herpetology - Herpetologist Ed Kowalski from the Philadelphia Zoo presented a fascinating program on the subject of reptiles which focused mainly on turtles.
- September '05: Delaware River Oil Spil Cleanup with US Coast Guard - Jerry Conrad of the US Coast Guard spoke on the cleanup of the Delaware River following the Athos I crude oil spill. He gave us details on the response to contain the spill, as well as a current conditions.
- June '05: Annual Picnic, Alcyon Lake Park - About 35 club members met at the pavilion at Alcyon Lake park for some great food and good conversation. We had a chance to reflect on the past year and talk about current events. A nice and relaxed ending to a great year.
- May '05: Erik Mollenhauer, Insect Specialist - Often overlooked, insects are the most numerous and diverse animals on the planet. Erik brought the many families and terms to a level easily understood by all. With the many pictures and examples Erik provided all present left with a better understand of the insect world.
- April '05: Jonathan Woods and The Raptor Project - Again, Jonathan brought his amazingly diverse group of hawks, owls, and eagles to the Pitman High School for the Nature Club. To a standing room only crowd (over 700 people) Jonathan flew the owls and hawks in the auditorium over everyone's head. Many people in the crowd found the stories of the birds to be as fascinating and captivating as the birds themselves.
- March '05: Karl Anderson, Plant Communities of New Jersey - Karl took us from the North Western corner of New Jersey to the South Eastern end of New Jersey and all the plant communities in between. Everyone learned about the incredible diversity of our small state and saw some wonderful slides of the many native plants we have close to home. Karl is a wonderful speaker, and people were kept entertained with plant facts and amusing stories.
- February '05: Nature Art and Potluck Dinner - Each Club member brought some type of artwork to share with the group which included hand sewn quilts with pineland plant pressings, a collection of eggs from around the world (including ostrich), personal hand carved fish and eagle sculptures, various pressed plants and flowers, and many personal items that reminded that person of a trip or special place. Often the story that accompanied the artwork was just as impressive as the artwork itself. In addition, there were three tables of food brought to the meeting and some dishes could be considered works of art themselves. There was plenty of food and as always, the desserts were spectacular and there were plenty of them.
- January '05: Habitat Management at Lakehurst Naval Air Station - Often some of the last remaining, large tracts of land left undeveloped are in the hands of the military. Such is the case in New Jersey with Lakehurst Naval Air Station providing much needed breeding habitat for many grassland birds. John Joyce, Cultural/Natural resource manager forthe base, had pictures and details of these birds and their successes.
- December '04: How to Attract and Manage Colony of Purple Martins - Allen C. Jackson, a Wildlife Biologist, shared with us the many locations he has helped to establish purple martin colonies in the State and in our County. His enthusiasm and dedication were evident in this wonderful slide presentation with examples of the houses used to provide a home for these beautiful birds.
- November '04: Who’s Living in our Streams & Lakes? The Fascination of Fish - Rudolf Arndt, a Stockton Professor & Vertebrate Zoologist showed us some of the fish we have in NJ waters at this annual joint meeting of the Federation of GC Watersheds, South Jersey Land Trust, and the Nature Club.
- October '04: Invasive Plants - Diane Suiter, a master gardener, brought in examples of the most common and destructive invasive species plaguing our ecosystems right now. She also discussed why these invasive species are a problem and potential ways to reduce the impact of these foreign invaders.
- September '04: Cape May, A Journey Through the Looking Glass - Kevin T. Karlson, a professional wildlife photographer and avid birder from Cape May County, presented a program featuring slides and including lots of Natural History illustrating the magic of Cape May.
- June '04: Annual Picnic, Washington Lake Park - About 25 club members met at the pavilion in Washington Lake park for some great food and good conversation. We had a chance to reflect on the past year and talk about current events. A nice and relaxed ending to a great year.
- May '04: Rails-to-trails Conservancy (RTC) - Tom Sexton, the Northeast regional director for the Rails-to-trails conservancy discussed the advantages of creating local and regional trails. He shared some of the current projects "in the works" for the RTC and why New Jersey is ripe for several RTC projects. We took a visual tour of some RTC successful conversions from old rail beds to active bike/hike trails as well. The group asked some good questions and is already looking at places in Gloucester County to develop trails.
- April '04: Birding in New Jersey - Lloyd Shaw shared many of his personal experiences and special moments. He also delved into the various guides to birding in NJ.
- March '04: Pelagic birding in the Mid-Atlantic - Paul Guris of See-life Paulagics gave a fantastic presentation of the many incredible animals you might see birding far from our shores of NJ. Paul explained the terms of the trade and had excellent pictures of the most likely seen birds and mammals (and some not so likely). To book a trip visit their website at www.paulagics.com
- February '04: Book and Dessert Night - Each Club member brought a book, poem, magazine/newspaper article or some other form of literature that was special to them and least we forget a dessert. Members had a chance to share thoughts and impressions on why their "book" was so important to them. As always, the desserts were spectacular and there were plenty of them.
- January '04: Alternative/Renewable Energy Sources - Tim Fostik of EIRC and Peter Burcat of Solara Energy presented many compelling reasons to switch from fossil fuels to alternative energies like wind, solar, or geothermal. A foam ball game and real solar panels made this an interactive and informative program.
- December '03: Ancient Encampment in Gloucester County - Paul McEachern, an archaeologist from Grubb Associates of Cranbury, brought specimens from a dig conducted in East Greenwich. He stepped us through the dig process and the significance of the artifacts found at the site.
- November '03: For the Birds–Protecting Land in South Jersey: Preserving Oases along the Flyway - Dale Rosselet of the Cape May Bird Observatory investigated the need to save land for migrants and how migrants accomplish their amazing travel routines. This was a joint meeting with the South Jersey Land Trust and Federation of Gloucester County Watersheds.
- October '03: Unexpected Wildlife Refuge - The fascinating story of a couple who moved to Southern NJ and lived with wildlife, most notably beavers, was brought to the Nature Club by Sarah Summerville, who has assumed the responsibilities of director of the refuge after Hope Buyukmihci and her husband died.
- September '03: The Monarch Butterfly - Paula Hayes and Kris Mollenhauer presented the incredible life of the Monarch butterfly from egg to adult. They presented some wonderful pictures of their trip to Mexico to see the colonies of wintering Monarchs which can number in the tens of millions.
- June '03: Annual Picnic, Red Bank Battlefield Park - Club members met at the pavilion in Red Bank Battlefield Park for a chance to have some great food and conversation. A great ending to a great year!
- May '03: A Beekeeper's Life - David Garrett brought the tools of the beekeeper's trade and some wonderful stories of his work with bees. Click here for pictures from the May meeting.
- April '03: Catalysts for Conservation - The Club gathered eleven members to talk about twelve birds and why those birds were a catalyst for conservation for the conservation movement.
- March '03: Celebrating 100 Years of the National Wildlife Refuge System - Linda Ziemba, a biologist at Supawna Meadows NWR in Salem County NJ, presented the history of the National Wildlife Refuge system and the genesis of the system itself.
- February '03: Family Craft Night - Everyone enjoyed over ten possible crafts which varied from the pipe cleaner creatures, teasel mice, pomander oranges, snowflakes, and nature bookmarks to pinecone woodpecker feeders. Friends and family had a great time at craft night at our February meeting.
- January '03: Exploring the Night Sky - The Club was treated to a Portable Star lab (planetarium) viewing of the night sky while being instructed on the various constellations and the origins of many legends found in the night sky. We were treated to both a live viewing of the stars and moon through a real telescope and some wonderful slides of various celestial phenomenon.
The Club learned how this current yearly tradition started over 102 years ago with some protesters who wanted to stop the killing of thousands of birds on our most popular holiday.
- November '02: American Indians in South Jersey: Their Highways, Homes & Hunting Grounds - Noted anthropologist, consulting archaeologist and author R. Alan Mounier, showed how American Indian archaeological sites reveal the patterns of land use of the early inhabitants of Gloucester County. Many of these sites are being destroyed by modern land uses and unregulated excavations. This program was presented collaboratively with the Federation of Gloucester County Watersheds and the South Jersey Land Trust.
- October '02: Exploring the Galapagos: The Significance of Islands - The isolation of these islands and the beauty of Ecuador was revealed by the camera work of Bob Cassel. While these volcanic islands resemble Hawaii, there is nothing quite like approaching a nesting Blue-footed Booby, completely unafraid of humans. But… as isolated bits of ecosystem, islands are also hotbeds of extinction. For the past 30 years ecologists used their studies of islands to unravel a dark story of worldwide ecosystem decay. The implications of their findings are more urgent than ever, for the world, and for the residents of New Jersey.
- September '02: The Epic Migration of the Monarch Butterfly - Our presenters explained the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly with hands-on exhibits and live materials. The Club Learned the wonderful story of this long-distance migrant and the incredible transformation from egg, caterpillar, pupae, and finally adult butterfly.
- May '02: Jonathan Woods and the Raptor Project - A spectacular program which included over 20 live Owls, Eagles, and Hawks. Jonathan flew the birds' right over the audience while he discussed the challenges these wonderful birds face in the wild.
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