Sliding on Ice can be Fun

Mary and Art Heers ready for bobsledding
Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers
Mary and Art Heers ready for bobsledding
Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers
When cold weather sets into Cache Valley, I usually begin to grumble. But this year, when the weather warmed up and the snow turned to rain, my grumbling got a lot louder.

Everywhere I looked, the sidewalks and roads were covered in ice. I announced that falling on ice was my least favorite activity. I hated ice.

Then I got an unusual Christmas letter from an old family friend, Paulette Campbell. This letter told the story about the skating pond her 3 sons had built for 15 years at their Logan home. The yard was 30 ft wide, 60 ft long, and flat as a pancake – perfect for creating an ice rink. But it took a lot of work. The boys would begin by packing the snow with a heavy roller pulled by their garden tractor. Then they got out the garden hose and sprayed the surface. Three hours later the water had frozen and it was time to spray again. For the next five nights the family pitched in and the ice got sprayed every three hours. The boys packed down the lumpy spots with a shovel.

When the pond was ready, the neighborhood kids flocked to the pond to skate after school. But at 8pm, the floodlights came on and the big kids took over the ice. It was time to play hockey. The boys’ grandparents, who lived next door, pulled their chairs up to the bay window and watched. They insisted on paying the water bill. They insisted the entertainment was worth it.

By the time I finished reading the letter, I had to admit sliding on the ice could be fun.

I was also starting to rerun in my mind my own family ice story. My cousin, Jill Bakken, had been recruited out of high school by the US Olympic committee to give bobsledding a try. Jill took a liking for this slippery sport. In 2002, at the Salt Lake Winter Olympics, Jill and Vonetta Flowers brought home the gold medal in the first ever women’s bobsled event.

Now, twenty years later, and to top off this story, I screwed up my courage and signed up to ride down the Olympic bobsled track. I was tucked in right behind the driver as the 4-man sled roared down the track. We hit 70 mph and pulled about 3 g’s. At the bottom, I got out of the sled a bit shakily.

But now I had a new point of view: Sliding on ice can be exhilarating.

This is Mary Heers and I’m Wild About Utah

Credits:
Photos: Courtesy Mary Heers,
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright © J. Chase and K.W. Baldwin, Utah Public Radio upr.org
Text: Mary Heers, https://cca.usu.edu/files/awards/art-and-mary-heers-citation.pdf
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Mary Heers’ Wild About Utah Postings

The Track Sports: Bobsleigh, Luge, Skeleton, Alf Engen Ski Museum, Alf Engen Museum Foundation, https://engenmuseum.org/exhibit/track-sports-bobsleigh-luge-skeleton

Bakken and Flowers win first ever Women’s bobsleigh gold, Salt Lake 2002, International Olympic Committee, https://olympics.com/en/video/bakken-and-flowers-win-first-ever-women-s-bobsleigh-gold-salt-lake-2002

Wright, Sally H. N., Logan family provides ice thrillsShow pleases grandparents, neighbors, The Herald Journal, January 7, 2002, https://www.hjnews.com/logan-family-provides-ice-thrillsshow-pleases-grandparents-neighbors/article_8149fc2d-7e92-5554-a74c-97432423c555.html

Why, It Was Definitely the Snow!

Why, It Was Definitely the Snow! "Utah’s Winter King: A Key Individual in the History of Utah’s Ski Industry"
Photo from 1989 Utah History Fair
Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes
“Utah’s Winter King: A Key Individual in the History of Utah’s Ski Industry”
Photo from 1989 Utah History Fair
Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes

Snow-frosted Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon
Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer Snow-frosted Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon
Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer

Snow. Tiny specks of dust and other particles in the air that attract water vapor to become ice crystals. That is what fascinated a man named Wilson ‘Snowflake’ Bentley enough to capture thousands of one-of-a-kind snowflake photographs and what drew my friend Alf to Utah. In the winter and early spring of 1989, I sat as a Bonneville Junior High ninth grader with Alf Engen in his office at Alta. As a presenter at the Utah History Fair that year, I was gathering stories and artifacts for my project titled Utah’s Winter King: A Key Individual in the History of Utah’s Ski Industry.

Engen shared stories about building ski jumps over the fences between his home and school and his journey from Norway to America, not to ski but to buy back the Engen estate divided up at his father’s death of the Spanish Flu in 1919. He said, “I was going to make enough money to go back, but I didn’t know how I was going to do that. I didn’t even know there was much snow here, I never read about that.” After sharing stories about arriving in Ellis Island, playing soccer in Milwaukee, scaffold hill jumping on Ecker Hill, and cross-country skiing as a forest service employee over Catherine Pass to imagine Alta as a ski hub, he ended with how he felt about jumping Utah’s snow: “They would say “Send Gummer–that is ‘old man’ in Norwegian–over first,” and I would have to do anything new. I knew I could do it, even if I had never tried it before. Once you are up there, you can fly.”

I had forgotten about that experience chatting about snow with a Utah snow giant until a few weeks ago, gazing out at the snow-frosted hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. I gripe about snow plowing piles and delayed-start school days, and I’d rather cut snowflakes from paper than be out in it most frigid days. Yet, this Christmas a friend gave me a blue and white book titled “The Little Book of Snow.”

For someone who grew up in “the greatest snow on earth,” I thought I knew snow well enough, but in addition to discovering linguistic similarities for the word snow and that some have estimated the number of snowflakes that fall to earth each year to be a number with at least 24 zeroes, I confirmed my suspicions about snow that is not white. I’ve often encountered pink snow patches at the high altitudes of Utah, and with a nudge from the watermelon snow paragraph, I found an intriguing citizen science opportunity online called The Living Snow Project led by Dr. Robin Kodner at Western Washington University. By contributing data about spring snow algal blooms through sample vials or at least observation photographs, scientists can study microscopic snow communities and their impact on snow melt.

Snow. When I asked him what about Utah made him stay, Alf Engen said, “Why, it was definitely the snow.” Snow is the stuff of which stories, science, and wonderful dreams are made.

I’m Shannon Rhodes, and I’m wild about Utah.

Credits:

Images: Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
Audio: Courtesy & © Friend Weller, https://upr.org/
Text:     Shannon Rhodes, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Shannon Rhodes

Additional Reading:

Blanchard, Duncan. 1970. The Snowflake Man. https://snowflakebentley.com/snowflake-man-bio

Coulthard, Sally. 2018. The Little Book of Snow. https://www.chroniclebooks.com/products/the-little-book-of-snow

Engen, Alan K. 2001. Alf Engen: A Son’s Reminiscences. https://issuu.com/utah10/docs/uhq_volume69_2001_number4/s/10191712​​

Greene, Jack. 2020. I Love Snow. Wild About Utah, https://wildaboututah.org/i-love-snow/

Larese-Casanova, Mark. 2014. Utah’s Rich Skiing History. Wild About Utah, https://wildaboututah.org/utahs-rich-skiing-history/

Libbrecht, Kenneth G. 1999. Guide to Snowflakes. https://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/class/class-old.htm

Liberatore, Andrea. 2011. Snowflakes. Wild About Utah, https://wildaboututah.org/snowflakes/

Living Snow Project. https://wp.wwu.edu/livingsnowproject/

Local Lexi. 2021. The History of “The Greatest Snow on Earth” https://www.skiutah.com/blog/authors/lexi/the-history-of-the-greatest-snow-on.

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. 1998. Snowflake Bentley. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. https://www.amazon.com/Snowflake-Bentley-Jacqueline-Briggs-Martin/dp/0547248296

Strand, Holly. 2009. A Utah Skier’s Snow Lexicon. Wild About Utah, https://wildaboututah.org/a-utah-skiers-snow-lexicon/

Rascoe, Ayesha. 2022. Why Snow Is Turning Pink at High Altitudes. https://www.npr.org/2022/12/18/1143929924/why-snow-is-turning-pink-at-high-altitudes

Weller, Kristine. 2023. In a State Obsessed with Snowpack, Finding Pink Snow in Utah Is a Problem. https://www.kuer.org/health-science-environment/2023-01-03/in-a-state-obsessed-with-snowpack-finding-pink-snow-in-utah-is-a-problem

An Ice Fishing Learning Journey

An Ice Fishing Learning Journey: Ice Fishing Basics Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS)
Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer
Ice Fishing Basics
Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS)
Experiential Learning
Eric Newell Director & Photographer

Teaching Yellow Perch Survival Structures Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS)
Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer Teaching Yellow Perch Survival Structures
Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS)
Experiential Learning
Eric Newell Director & Photographer

Fish Mathematics Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS)
Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer Fish Mathematics
Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS)
Experiential Learning
Eric Newell Director & Photographer

In 2019 my friend Josh Boling shared his perspectives on place-based education beyond the walls of a classroom in a Wild About Utah piece titled “Why I Teach Outside.” I sit here today with another colleague teaching second grade at Edith Bowen Lab School in Logan, Dr. Joseph Kozlowski, who has unpacked the potential of teaching children outside.

Dr. Koz, tell us your story.
Well, first, thanks so much for having me on. I am excited to be here. I grew up in an outdoor family. My dad was a wildlife biologist with the Forest Service, so I appreciated being outdoors growing up. Then later, my uncles introduced me to hunting and fishing, and that became a big part of my life where I found problem-solving and a sense of connection to nature. When I got my first job in northern Wyoming, I became involved in a group called Adventure Club. On Fridays and weekends we would take students from the school on experiential learning trips to historically-relevant sites in the area such as Devils Tower, Jewel Cave, the Battle of the Little Bighorn area, and really help these students connect to the place that they live and the culture and the history. So, those kinds of experiences are really what help kids connect learning and connect who they are to where they are. A lot of my philosophy is behind John Dewey who talks about rich experiences being the foundation of thinking and for learning.

Can you give us an example of an experience that embodies this philosophy?
Definitely. Last year, our second grade class at EBLS set up a trip to Hyrum Dam to take the students out ice fishing. We partnered with DWR (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources) employees, expert parents, and Dr. Eric Newell, our director of experiential learning. We wanted to go out there to help students connect with that place but also learn about characteristics of animals, what they need to survive and traits of the habitat. The students were out there on their buckets, ice cold fingers, ice developing on the top of those little rods, so focused on watching one little bounce of the line, hoping to catch a fish. We ended up being able to have a rainbow trout and a yellow perch, getting to look at the different colorations on the body and these black vertical stripes on the perch and talking about how that blends into the dark reeds on the bottom of the reservoir. And the mouth structure, how one has these sharp, aggressive teeth and one has wider teeth and a wider mouth. Then, finally we looked inside their bellies where different food were in different types of fish, little minnows in the trout belly versus macroinvertebrates and little snail-like things in the perch belly, looking at how those matched the different parts of the water that those fish would live in. That type of a thing is an example of how students connect to this place in this very authentic and meaningful way.

How do you justify this type of teaching and learning in the current educational landscape?
Basically, from an ‘academic accountability’ perspective, there is not a shortage of research, specifically in early childhood where I work, which links rich at-home vocabulary, at-home math experiences, and in general rich experiences with later academic success.

Providing hands-on learning that fosters rich connection to place makes so much sense and is engaging as well. We are Shannon Rhodes and Dr. Kozlowski, and we are wild about Utah.

Credits:

Images: Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS) Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Audio: Courtesy & © J. Chase and K.W. Baldwin
Text: Shannon Rhodes and Dr. Joseph Kozlowski, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Shannon Rhodes

Additional Reading

Boling, Josh. Why I Teach Outside. 2019. https://wildaboututah.org/why-i-teach-outside/

Boling, Josh. You, Too, Can Teach Outside. 2020. https://wildaboututah.org/you-too-can-teach-outside/

Gibbon, Peter. John Dewey: Portrait of a Progressive Thinker. 2019. National Endowment for the Humanities. https://www.neh.gov/article/john-dewey-portrait-progressive-thinker

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Four Great Waters to Ice Fish in Northern Utah This Winter. 2022. https://wildlife.utah.gov/wildlife-news/42-utah-wildlife-news/834-find-a-baby-bird-heres-what-to-do.html

Christmas Bird Count December 2022

Christmas Bird Count December 2022: Cassin's Finch, Carpodacus cassinii Courtesy US FWS, Dave Menke, Photographer
Cassin’s Finch, Carpodacus cassinii
Courtesy US FWS, Dave Menke, Photographer

Male House Finch in Mating Plumage, Haemorhous mexicanus, Courtesy US FWS Gary Kramer, Photographer Male House Finch in Mating Plumage
Haemorhous mexicanus
Courtesy US FWS, Gary Kramer, Photographer

Audubon chapters everywhere invite volunteers to join the 123rd Christmas Bird Count, and that means it’s time to hone our bird watching skills for the longest-running community science project. Seasoned birders and beginners alike spend a few minutes or a full day on this annual census of birds. Those just starting to notice birds can be valuable spotters in the mobile sectors, and can quickly learn to observe the subtle differences between similar species seen from the comfort of home, where no bird feeder is required, and valuable contributions can be made with just a few minutes of counting birds.

The Bridgerland Audubon Society launched the Cache Christmas Bird Count watch circle in 1955, contributing to a tradition launched in1900 by ornithologist Frank M. Chapman who out of concern for dwindling bird populations managed to change the culture from annual Christmas bird shooting contests into bird counting contests. Bridgerland Audubon always schedules on the first Saturday on or following December 14th, and typically documents about 100 species of birds.

The Cache Valley watch circle is divided into eleven sectors, including a 4 a.m. owling sector, and includes all homes within a 7.5 mile radius from the center of the circle which is located at Main Street & Hyde Park Lane (Hwy 91 & 3600 N). The same 15-mile diameter watch circle is surveyed each December – that’s about 177 square miles, and we can use all the help we can get, especially from folks watching from home. Don’t worry if you can’t identify all of the birds you see – you will just report the ones you do recognize. You can also get help by posting photos to the Bridgerland Audubon Facebook group, where you’ll also see posts about the Dark-eyed Junco, a small dark bird with a white belly, and subspecies which include the Oregon Junco with a black hood and neck, the Pink-Sided, the Gray-headed, and the Slate Junco.

The Home Sector provides a lot of extra data on about 32 species, the most common of which are available on a one page photo-illustrated checklist on the Bridgerland Audubon website where you will also find links to the free Merlin App which identifies birds by their songs. The Visitors Bureau has a nice selection of Utah Bird field guides which are great for beginners.

Bird identification is all about learning to notice the little differences in size, coloration patterns, shape of the beak, the crown of the head, and the tip of the tail. For example a House Finch and a Cassin’s Finch may look the same at first glance, but the House Finch has streaks on the side of the body, a rounded tail tip, and the red over the eyes is more like a headband than a top hat. The Cassin’s Finch has a notched tail, red cap, and lacks those streaks on the breast and and sides. The Pine Siskin looks like a tiny House Finch but it has a hint of yellow on its wings and the beak is more delicate and pointed. Large flocks of birds can be counted by blocking off a group of individuals, counting them, and then extrapolating to the whole of the flock. Don’t forget that zero is a number to report!

Visit Audubon.org to find a Christmas Bird Count near you, and visit bridgerlandaudubon.org to join the local count sector leaders on Saturday, December 17th, 2022. Pre- registration is free but required.

I’m Hilary Shughart with Bridgerland Audubon and I am Wild About Utah!

Credits:
Images: Courtesy US FWS, Dave Menke and Gary Kramer, Photographers
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright © Kevin Colver, https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections/kevin-colver
Text: Hilary Shughart, President, Bridgerland Audubon Society
Additional Reading: Hilary Shughart and Lyle Bingham, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/

Additional Reading

WildAboutUtah pieces by Hilary Shughart, https://wildaboututah.org/author/hilary-shughart/

Liberatore, Andrea, Dark-eyed Juncos, Wild About Utah, January 12, 2012, https://wildaboututah.org/dark-eyed-juncos/

Greene, Jack, Juncos, Wild About Utah, December 21, 2020, https://wildaboututah.org/juncos/

Bridgerland Audubon CBC Toolkit https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/our-projects/cache-valley-christmas-bird-count/

National Audubon Data: Annual Summaries of the Christmas Bird Count, 1901-Present https://www.audubon.org/content/american-birds-annual-summary-christmas-bird-count

Tips from eBird on How to count large flocks of birds:
“Big numbers of Moving Birds. Their are two ways to count large flocks of moving birds: either by blocking off a group of individuals, counting them, and then extrapolating to the whole of the flock; or by counting birds per unit of time.”
Team eBird, Bird Counting 101, eBird is a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, https://ebird.org/news/counting-101/

General Tips for Bird Identification:
Mayntz, Melissa, Bird Bill Parts, The Spruce, Updated on 08/01/22, https://www.thespruce.com/bird-bill-parts-387362

Sibley Guides, The annual plumage cycle of a male American Goldfinch, https://www.sibleyguides.com/2012/05/the-annual-plumage-cycle-of-a-male-american-goldfinch/

Lesser Goldfinch-Similar Species Comparison, All About Birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Lesser_Goldfinch/species-compare/

House Finches, Purple Finches, and Cassin’s Finches, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/finches-with-red-id-quiz/

Junco Coloring Page:
http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/dark-eyed-junco?version=print

Utah-Centric Books & Field Guides:
Tekiela, Stan, Birds of Utah Field Guide, Adventure Publications, Apr 21, 2003, https:// www.amazon.com/Birds-Utah-Field-Guide-Tekiela/dp/1591930197/

Fenimore, Bill, Backyard Birds of Utah: How to Identify and Attract the Top 25 Birds, Gibbs Smith, March 27, 2008, https://www.amazon.com/Backyard-Birds-Utah-Identify- Attract/dp/1423603532/

Kavanagh, James, Utah Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species (Wildlife and Nature Identification) Pamphlet, Waterford Press, September 1, 2017, https:// www.amazon.com/Utah-Birds-Folding-Familiar-Naturalist/dp/1583551328/