Author Archives: Aeriel Wauhob

About Aeriel Wauhob

Graduate from the University of Montana with degrees in Wildlife Biology and Studio Art with a minor in Art History & Criticism. Loves old cameras, nature, and taking pictures of nature with old cameras.

Kids Dig in the Dirt to Save Pollinators

Pollinators are in peril, but with the help of Union Elementary they will have a safe home in Upshur County, West Virginia. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Partner’s for Fish & Wildlife Program in West Virginia teamed up with Union Elementary to install the program’s first schoolyard habitat pollinator garden in the state.

West Virginia Field Office AmeriCorps members, Aeriel Wauhob and Tom Fletcher, designed, organized, and installed a new Partner’s for Fish & Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat project using funding from the USFWS Monarch Initiative. Nearly 300 kindergarten through 5th grade students, at Union Elementary School in Upshur County helped to transform the front lawn of their school into pollinator garden using native seeds and perennials.

Union Elementary students and staff in newly finished pollinator garden.

Students started each day with a short presentation on who pollinators are, how they help grow our food, and the threats they face every day. The installation was a two day process. Kindergartners through 2nd graders leading the way by lending a hand and foot to prep the area for planting of flowers and stomping native seeds into the ground. The second day of the install consisted of 3rd through 5th graders learning how to transplant flowers and work as a team to spread mulch.

Every child at Union Elementary had the chance to get their hands dirty learning about native plants and gardening techniques to encourage pollinators to visit. All grades helped, from planting wildflower seeds, weeding and digging, to mulching and watering!

To add more of a personal touch, each class designed a stepping stone that would be placed around a sitting area with a bench. The 4th graders enjoyed breaking dishes to make mosaic tiles for the class designs. The stones featured pollinators such as birds and butterflies, along with the plants they seek like flowers and trees.

This inspiring project will be a gateway for similar accomplishments connecting children with nature throughout the state. The pollinator garden was an effort made possible by Nick Millett – Partner’s for Fish & Wildlife, Aeriel Wauhob & Tom Fletcher – AFHA AmeriCorps, Russ McClain – Center for Sustainability Studies of Davis & Elkins College, and Dr. Stankus – Union Elementary Garden Committee.

Left to Right: Nick Millett, Russ McClain, Tom Fletcher, & Aeriel Wauhob

Shining the Light on Endangered Species

Wildlife all over the world are rapidly declining and facing extinction. Many scientists believe that we are in middle of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction. In this continually altering world that we share with these unique species, every day is a chance to make a positive change to help the threatened and endangered species.  If you follow our social media, then one day that you surely did not miss was Endangered Species Day, which falls on the third Friday of May.

IMG_20170520_124337940.jpg

Endangered Species Day is a national celebration to recognize endangered species and their habitats, and to educate students and the public about their importance. There are over 1,400 species protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act alone. The Endangered Species Coalition (ESC) started this national day 12 years ago. Along with the celebration, the ESC holds the annual Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest. This year over 1,400 young artists from across the nation submitted artwork.

IMG_20170520_124407249_HDR.jpgIMG_20170520_144144691_BURST000_COVER.jpg

In Elkins, West Virginia, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) AmeriCorps program, U.S. Forest Service, and WV Division of Natural Resources (DNR) hosted an Endangered Species Day event on May 20th. The event featured a day of fun, interactive games and activities that demonstrate the importance of threatened and endangered species and why they need our help. Participants could become endangered species biologist, take a walk through a giant inflatable bat cave, enjoy the artwork of young local students in an endangered species art show, or get their face painted like their favorite species. The celebration was kick-started by the Save Endangered Species Youth Art Contest- Elkins gallery opening and awards ceremony on May 19th.

IMG_20170520_160812392.jpgIMG_20170520_160804883.jpg

As part of the 12th annual Endangered Species Day, young artists got involved to raise awareness of the decline of these important species by participating in the 2017 Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest. This year Elkins and the surrounding area had over 100 local young artists participate in the contest! Artworks from the participants of the local competition were also submitted to the national competition. Winners of the Elkins Art Contest were announced at an awards ceremony and gallery opening on May 19th. All submitted artwork was displayed at the Endangered Species Day event in Elkins on May 20th.

IMG_20170522_124234007.jpg

In conjunction to the Endangered Species Day event and art contest, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Field Office in Elkins held Endangered Species Day lessons for classrooms. Teachers could arrange to have an endangered species educator come to their classroom to present to the students about threatened and endangered species of West Virginia. During these lessons, students became actively engaged in the protection of threatened and endangered species by learning about conservation techniques that could be used at home. West Virginia species, such as the Virginia big-eared bat and Fanshell mussel, were highlighted in fun interactive games like Fungus Among Us. During the lessons students learned about the importance of these plants and animals in the ecosystem and understand why it is important to protect these species and their habitats.

unnamed.jpg

To learn more about Endangered Species Day or about the Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest visit www.endangered.org/campaigns/endangered-species-day/

Sprucing Up the Place

Every year Earth Day is a time to celebrate our wonderful planet and the amazing resources it has to offer. From cascading waterfalls nestled in the mountains to the blooming flowers on the desert floor, the Earth has given us awe-inspiring sites, artistic inspiration, and consumable resources. But with increasing urbanization, changing climate, and widespread diseases, our planet is in need of our help. In West Virginia, where Earth Day is every day, people are lending a “limb” to help deter forest degradation and fragmentation.

IMG_20170421_103339663_HDR.jpg

IMG_20170421_104642416_HDR.jpg

IMG_20170421_104606993.jpg

Many organizations, including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, have come
together in common interest to restore the disappearing red spruce to conserve the biodiversity of the region. More than 500,000 acres across Central Appalachia’s high elevations were once covered by red spruce forest. Less than 10 percent of that remains today. What is left is limited to fragmented high ridge tops and protected coves. Red spruce forests are home to over 300 rare plant and animal species including the West Virginia Northern flying squirrel, Cheat Mountain salamander, and the native brook trout.

IMG_20170421_103526839.jpg

This Earth Day, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge planted nearly 2,500 trees with the help of 62 volunteers. Lauren Merrill, AmeriCorps member serving with the refuge and co-host of the tree planting event, said, “It was raining when the event started, and some people didn’t have rain jackets. Some people even came in shorts! The WVU’s Sierra Student Coalition really pulled through and brought a large group. Everyone was great…” The refuge will have a 4H group come out in May to bring the total to 3,000 planted red spruce. Another organization that held a red spruce planting on Earth Day was The Nature Conservancy at Blackwater Falls State Park. Two AmeriCorps members from our office assisted with restoration efforts.
IMG_20170421_105545622_HDR.jpg IMG_20170421_105738057.jpg IMG_20170421_105547257.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though the Earth Day festivities have come and gone, it’s a reminder to plant a seed today to ensure the heath and growth of tomorrow.

To get involved in events as described in this article please visit –https://www.fws.gov/refuges/.