Conservation Guardians of Northwest Illinois
The Conservation Guardians' Education Committee organizes a suite of environmental programs each year. From bark and bluebirds to bats and berries, these programs appeal to all ages.
February 17, 2012
Guardians Educator Debbie Pausz helped change the minds of around 20 youngsters and several adults about crows. Instead of always thinking them large, noisy, and scary, she introduced crows as intelligent, playful family members that co-exist harmoniously with humans all over the world. Learning that crows can make and use tools, that they use cars to crack nuts and then wait for the pedestrian crosswalk to turn green at a traffic light before retrieving them helped everyone to admire their resourcefulness.
The youngsters practiced "mobbing" a predator together in crow fashion, after Debbie sounded the "call-to-arms" alert, the famous double-caw heard all over Jo Daviess County. They also learned about the range of sounds a crow can make: rattles, dry clicking, squeaky hinge, coos, crying baby, and imitations of other birds.
The audience was given a tip: if you hear a bunch of crows cawing loudly, around for an owl or a hawk. Crows' "mobbing" (vocally harassing and chasing) gives us a great opportunity to observe a beautiful, secretive bird. Thank you, crows!
Using ancient fables, Native American legends, and present day stories from researchers, Debbie inspired the children to create their own crow story. A group of crows is called a "murder" or a "story" of crows, leading one participant to create a wonderful depiction.
The new program, A Murder of Crows, was presented as part of the Conservation Guardians free fun learning programs for SIP (School Improvement Program) Early Dismissal at the Galena Public Library in conjunction with the Galena ARC (Arts & Recreation Center). Guardians have volunteered for several SIP days throughout the school year.
Thank you, Debbie, for creating this marvelous new classroom program that teaches children to love crows.
— Michele Cahill
Camp Casper 2013 Overview
The Guardians and JDCF will join once again with the Galena Arts and Recreation Center to offer Camp Casper III for children 8 to 11 years old during the week of July 15 - 19, 2013. This year, the theme of the camp will be water and the Mississippi watershed. Emphasis will be placed on understanding our local watersheds and the ecosystems found along them, the importance of fresh water conservation and sustainability and the historical, cultural and economic impacts of our local rivers. It is hoped that the program will be extended from three days to five with the addition of a visit to the National Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque and a boat ride on the river.
Camp Casper 2012 Report
July 17, 19 and 20
"May the Great Spirit of the Universe fill your heart with
sunshine, today, tomorrow and forever."
This blessing opened and closed each day of Camp Casper for 40 campers at Casper Bluff Land and Water Reserve, a JDCF property overlooking the Mississippi south of Galena, Illinois.
The three day curriculum was devoted to Native American cultures. The campers were divided into three clans: Jaguars, Bears and Thunderbirds. Campers then chose a Native American name that they would be known as during Camp. At the beginning of Camp, the campers went through the naming ceremony where they were introduced to their clan with their new name and received their headband as an initiation.
Our first day presented us with a challenge due to the extreme hot weather. We decided to hold the Tuesday Camp activities at Galena Art & Recreation Center instead of busing the campers to Casper Bluff. The first two days the clans rotated to each session. The last day activities were done as a whole tribe, the Camp Casper Tribe.
On the days we met at Casper Bluff, we displayed an incredible historical map of the Mississippi region drawn by Nicolas de Fer of Paris, France, in 1718. If you look real close, you can find approximately where Casper Bluff would be — right in the middle of the map. The Conservation Guardians and the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation gratefully acknowledge the Newberry Library in Chicago for permission to reproduce the Nicolas de Fer map for Camp Casper.
Campers experienced tracking and hunting, identifying native plants (sampling the edible ones), shelter building, story-telling and naming pictures, games, making their own dreamcatchers and totem pouches, all thanks to the talented teachers who are all volunteers of the Conservation Guardians. In addition to the educational activities, we were graciously entertained Tuesday by local minstrel Jim Post with his knowledge of history, wonderful songs and wit. His wife Janet told a story about her great-great-great grandfather and Black Hawk.
Kim Sigafus, who is a member of the Ojibwa Tribe, came to Camp on Thursday dressed in a traditional white deerskin ceremonial dress. She talked to the campers about her attire and about her cultural heritage. On Friday Chloris Lowe, Ho-Chuck Tribal Elder and a member of the Sky Clan, spoke to the campers about the Native World View while overlooking the Thunderbird Effigy Mound at Casper Bluff. Afterwards Josie Dykas, Cultural Teaching Artist and a member of the Aztec/Yaqui Tribe, shared her wonderful abilities of story-telling, drumming and comedy. She led the campers in a drumming circle and taught them songs and helped them understand how and why other people may view things differently.
Campers were invited back on Friday evening to witness the Ceremonial Blessing of the Thunderbird Effigy Mound at Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve, conducted by Chloris Lowe. At the preliminary reception before the blessing, four campers addressed the Conservation Club Members and shared their unifying project of a picture drawing and told their stories.
Co-Chairs Joan Klaus, Laurie Mattas and Heidi Thorp would like to thank the more than 20 Guardians and numerous businesses that helped in many ways to make the camp such a success. Thank you, Dave and Pat Casper, for your enthusiastic help in hosting the group. A Special thank you to Barbara Baird for her generous donation of Twelve Moons - A Year with the Sauk and Meskwaki, 1817-1818: books that each camper received at the close of Camp.
— Heidi Thorp