Hands on Stoneflies and Sculpin

Hands on Stoneflies and Sculpin: Exploring the Logan River Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS) Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Exploring the Logan River
Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS)
Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer

Benthic Macroinvertebrate Harvest Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS) Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer https://edithbowen.usu.edu/ Benthic Macroinvertebrate Harvest
Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS)
Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer

Merriam-Webster Benthic: of, relating to, or occurring at the bottom of a body of water

Student with a Stonefly Nymph Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS) Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer https://edithbowen.usu.edu/ Student with a Stonefly Nymph
Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS)
Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer

Stonefly Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS) Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer https://edithbowen.usu.edu/ Stonefly
Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS)
Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer

Sculpin Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS) Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer https://edithbowen.usu.edu/ Sculpin
Courtesy & Copyright Edith Bowen Laboratory School (EBLS)
Experiential Learning Eric Newell Director & Photographer

I remember my father on wintery Saturdays mounting his fly tying vice on the kitchen table, and then, from the cavern under the stairs, he’d emerge with his hooks, pheasant and peacock feathers, and other magical threads. I’d watch him spin intricate flies but never realized as a child that they were imitations of creatures I would meet and teach in the wild. When he took me to lakes and rivers to fish, we just used worms and pink marshmallows.

On an animal adaptation learning journey at Wood Camp along the Logan River this fall, our Edith Bowen Laboratory School first graders turned over river rocks, sweeping up all sorts of aquatic critters with nets and buckets to then probe playfully with tweezers and bare fingers. Trip Armstrong, Assistant Director of the National Aquatic Monitoring Center at Utah State University’s Department of Watershed Sciences, led our young investigators and several adult volunteers in identifying these benthic macroinvertebrates, especially the stonefly nymphs we found in every scoop.

These especially intrigued the children because they resemble something from outer space scurrying about on six legs. Stoneflies, both the nymphs and the adult insects, are large compared to mayfly and other critters you find in a river sample, so they stand out in a crowd. The adults have long wings, thus the Greek name Plecoptera meaning “braided wings,” but they are known to be poor fliers. The larvae have two tails or what biologists call cerci, while mayflies have three. Stoneflies have two hooks on their legs; mayflies have one. Stoneflies like oxygen-rich water flowing through their gills along their thorax and under their legs. We noticed some doing push-ups in the bin of river water, indicating it was time to return them to their habitat. Both mayfly and stonefly nymphs are pollution-sensitive, so finding them in such large numbers indicated that this part of the river was very healthy.

When a student approached from the river’s edge with a larger specimen cupped in her hands, I was stunned and a little spooked. “It’s a sculpin,” Armstrong said. These are bottom-dwelling fish that some say are basically big mouths with tails and have unflattering nicknames like “double uglies,” yet I learned later they are quite common. I’d just never met one. In fact, although biologists have determined that the Utah Lake sculpin has been extinct since the 1930s, the native Bear Lake sculpin and sculpin living in the Logan River are sources of food for the Bonneville Cutthroat and other trout.

I guess the lesson, as a wise first grader reminded me this week during our opinion writing session, is “Don’t yuck somebody’s yum.” Stoneflies and sculpin: flyfishers and bigger fish love them. I’m thankful for opportunities to teach in Utah’s wild places because every time I do, I learn something new.

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


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, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Shannon Rhodes

Additional Reading

Beaudreau, Andrea. 2017. Why I Love Sculpins (and Why You Should Too). Coastal Fisheries Ecology Lab. https://annebeaudreau.com/2017/09/05/why-i-love-sculpins/

Bouchard, R.W. Jr. 2004. Guide to Aquatic Invertebrates of the Upper Midwest. 2004. https://dep.wv.gov/WWE/getinvolved/sos/Documents/Benthic/UMW/Plecoptera.pdf

Curtis, Jennifer Keats with Stroud Water Research Center. 2020. Arbordale Publishing. https://www.arbordalepublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=CreekCritters

Dickey, Amy. Water Quality and Macroinvertebrates. https://deq.utah.gov/communication/news/water-quality-macroinvertebrates

Larese-Casanova, Mark. 2013. Aquatic Insects, Harbingers of Health. Wild About Utah, https://wildaboututah.org/aquatic-insects-harbingers-of-health/

Leavitt, Shauna. 2017. Bear Lake Sculpin. Wild About Utah, https://wildaboututah.org/bear-lake-sculpin-cottus-extensus/

National Aquatic Monitoring Center. https://namc-usu.org/

Pennsylvania League of Angling Youth. 2006. PLAY. https://www.fishandboat.com/LearningCenter/PennsylvaniaLeagueofAnglingYouthPLAY/Documents/AquaticMacrosEnaElpaMayflyPondstream_Allpages.pdf

Stroud Water Research Center. Macroinvertebrate Resources. https://stroudcenter.org/macros/

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Five Aquatic Species You May Not Know Live in Utah. Mottled Sculpin. https://wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks/962-r657-29–government-records-access-management-act.html

Utah State University Extension. Bugs Don’t Bug Me. https://extension.usu.edu/waterquality/files-ou/Publications/AllBugs.pdf

Zarbock, William. 1952. Life History of the Utah Sculpin. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1577/1548-8659%281951%2981%5B249%3ALHOTUS%5D2.0.CO%3B2

25th Anniversary Nutshell History of the Founding of the Stokes Nature Center

25th Anniversary Nutshell History of the Founding of the Stokes Nature Center, 1997 Stokes Nature Center Logo Courtesy & Copyright Kayo Robertson, Illustrator

1997 Stokes Nature Center Logo Courtesy & Copyright Kayo Robertson, Illustrator25th Anniversary Nutshell History of the Founding of the Stokes Nature Center
“This logo was chosen because the Dipper was Al Stoke’s favorite bird. There used to be an active nest beneath the old bridge by the Nature center. As we all know the sweet, early March, water-flowing song of the Dipper lifts winter-weary hearts with its spirited promise of coming spring.” — Kayo

Stokes Nature Center Courtesy & Copyright Jack Greene, Photographer

Stokes Nature Center, Logan Canyon
Courtesy & Copyright Jack Greene, Photographer

Allen & Alice Stokes Courtesy Jack Greene

Allen & Alice Stokes
Courtesy Jack Greene

In the fall of 1995, having already successfully envisioned and fostered the establishment of the Ogden Nature Center, and undaunted by multiple false-starts, Bridgerland Audubon Society Trustee and Education Chair Jack Greene launched a final successful round of appeals to establish a nature center in Logan Canyon. The first step of partnering with the First Presbyterian Church helped in securing a U.S. Forest Service conditional use permit to rehabilitate the disused Logan Canyon facility of the Cache Valley Council of Boy Scouts.25th Anniversary Nutshell History of the Founding of the Stokes Nature Center
The second step of forming the founding board of trustees of the Logan Canyon Nature Center with representatives from both Bridgerland Audubon and First Presbyterian, led to the election of Jack as president, and, importantly, to the writing of the business plan for an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Successive Bridgerland Audubon Society presidents Brigit Burke, Robert Schmidt, and Bryan Dixon tackled the arduous task of raising over $100,000 in funds, soliciting over $55,000 in donated building supplies, and wrangling over 200 volunteers for over 5,000 hours of perilous and thoroughly unglamorous labor of blood, sweat and tears to transmogrify a dilapidated and vandalized seventy-year-old American Legion building into a 20th century nature center. A standout in this community effort is biologist Glen Gantz, who donated over 1,500 hours serving as the general contractor, coordinating the work and finding subcontractors. Local educator, writer, and artist Kayo Robertson designed the logo featuring the American Dipper, Al Stokes’ favorite bird. Peggy Linn of the U.S. Forest Service was a key player, and fundraisers including Mae Coover, Terry Barnes, Wendy Gaddis, and Jacqueline Henney, and generous donors including Sally Sears, Randy Wirth, Nate Hult, Campbell Scientific, Thompson Electric, and Cache Valley Electric, ensured success.

Two years later, on November 1, 1997, the Logan Canyon Nature Center was dedicated to Bridgerland Audubon Society founders Allen and Alice Stokes, pillars of the local environmental conservation community. Al had been Aldo Leopold’s student and Alice had been Aldo’s personal secretary, so it is fitting that the Stokes Nature Center embodies the Leopold Land Ethic of caring about people, land, and the ecological conscience which binds the two when connecting people to opportunity. Twenty-five years later the mission of the Stokes Nature Center “To provide nature education and promote outdoor exploration of our natural world” is thriving, the vision is shining as “People of all ages appreciate and are stewards of our natural world,” and Al’s American Dippers are still dipping in the Logan River.

Twenty-five years later Jack Greene still serves as a docent and leads bird walks and nature programs, and the community continues to support this beacon for connecting people to nature through the study of the ecology of the land. Here’s looking forward to the next quarter century of strengthening community bonds through collaborations for nature exploration and appreciation!

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

Images: 1997 Stokes Nature Center Logo Courtesy & Copyright Kayo Robertson, Illustrator
Early Stokes Nature Center, Courtesy & Copyright Jack Greene, Photographer
Allen & Alice Stokes, Courtesy Jack Greene
Featured Audio: Courtesy & © Anderson, Howe and Wakeman and 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/

Strand, Holly, The Stokes Legacy, Wild About Utah, March 31, 2009,

Links of Note:
Allen and Alice Stokes Nature Center
Bridgerland Audubon Society
First Presbyterian Church of Logan
Cache Valley Electric
Campbell Scientific
Thompson Electric

Stokes Nature Center, Bridgerland Audubon Society, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/our-projects/stokes-nature-center/

Stokes Nature Center, Logan, UT, Website & Facebook Links:

Also note that Wild About Utah was organized in 2008 as a joint project with Utah Public Radio by the Bridgerland Audubon Society and the Stokes Nature Center.

Nature Came to Me

Glovers Silk Moth Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
Glovers Silk Moth
Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer

Glovers Silk Moth Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer Glovers Silk Moth
Courtesy & © Shannon Rhodes, Photographer

This week I couldn’t make time to get out into nature, so nature came to me. I suppose people think that once students stack chairs and say goodbye as they carry their yearbooks, portfolios, and report cards out the door, their teacher lounges all summer in a hammock with a just-for-fun book and a lemonade. Perhaps a few teachers do. This teacher was scurrying off to afternoon meetings about math tutoring and curriculum planning after spending mornings discussing hundreds of scholarly journal pages she’d read the night before about effective writing instruction. No, I wouldn’t make time this week for nature, so nature came to me, begging me to slow down, take notice, pause, breathe.

First, it was a bird with a yellow head perched just outside my bedroom window as I hit the alarm. I didn’t take the time to get the details or even listen to its song as I rushed off to the car. Was it a warbler or a meadowlark? I’m not sharp enough on my bird identifying yet to instantly know, and there was no time anyway. Not even to take a picture.

Rushing from my office to the adjacent building for class, I did stop to stare at the largest moth I’d ever seen that was perched on the similarly-colored rusty-brown brick. This time I pulled out my phone to get some shots, certain that the iNaturalist app would reveal how uncommon it is to see a moth bigger than the size of my fist leisurely greeting me on the summer camp-bustling university campus. Patiently it sat as I zoomed in closer to get all the angles of its head, wooly abdomen, and wing patterns. 7:58–time to go find my seat.

Later, my iNaturalist app provided a suggestion: Glover’s Silk Moth, a rather common find this time of year in my part of the world. Then, as I sat on a dining patio overlooking the river telling my friends about the moth, a garter snake skirted the rock wall just feet away from me until it found a comfortable spot to watch and listen.

Suddenly, I realized that nature was hosting a BioBlitz for me if I wanted to join in. A BioBlitz, according to the partnership of National Geographic and iNaturalist, is “a celebration of biodiversity….focused on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time.” Children’s book author Loree Griffin Burns cleverly guides her young readers in similarly throwing a Moth Ball.

Last June I learned that my tangerine-colored moth find in Logan Canyon was a Nuttall’s Sheep Moth, and that I could join citizen scientists all over in pinning observations on the map and logging wild encounters like this new-to-me species, especially during National Moth Week. It was William Wordsworth who wisely wrote, “Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher.” This week she was trying to teach me to be more aware, that my day’s list could allow time to appreciate a yellow bird, a curious snake, and a marvelous giant silk moth, and suddenly I was also spotting ladybug larva and ring-necked pheasants. I had time. As Richard Louv states in his book titled Last Child in the Woods, “Nature does not steal time; it amplifies it.”

For Wild About Utah, I’m Shannon Rhodes.

Images: Courtesy & Copyright Shannon Rhodes, Photographer
Additional Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections
Text: Shannon Rhodes, Edith Bowen Laboratory School, Utah State University https://edithbowen.usu.edu/
Additional Reading Links: Shannon Rhodes

Additional Reading:

Burns, Loree Griffin. You’re Invited to a Moth Ball: A Nighttime Insect Celebration. 2020. https://loreeburns.com/

Greene, Jack. Join a BioBlitz This Year. Wild About Utah, May 30, 2016. https://wildaboututah.org/bioblitz/

Insect Identification.org. Glover’s Silkmoth. January 3, 2022. https://www.insectidentification.org/insect-description.php?identification=Glovers-Silkmoth

Louv, Richard. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. 2008. http://richardlouv.com/books/last-child

National Geographic. BioBlitz. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/projects/bioblitz/

National Moth Week, Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission, https://nationalmothweek.org/

Rhodes, Shannon. Malacomosa Dance. Wild About Utah, June 21, 2021. https://wildaboututah.org/malacomosa-dance/

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Field Station. Giant Silk Moths. November 26, 2014. https://uwm.edu/field-station/giant-silk-moths-family-saturnidae/

Winter, William D. Jr. Basic Techniques for Observing and Studying Moths & Butterflies. The Lepidopterists’ Society. 2000. https://www.lepsoc.org/sites/all/themes/nevia/lepsoc/Memoir_5_Basic_techniques_manual.pdf

Wordsworth, William. The Tables Turned. 1798. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45557/the-tables-turned

Ron Hellstern

Ron Hellstern Contributor to Wild About Utah
Ron Hellstern
Contributor to Wild About Utah
A mighty tree has fallen- but its seed has been cast far and wide through his great works. I speak of a frequent Wild About Utah contributor, educator, and conservationist. On January 3rd, 2020, Ron Hellstern left us for the great beyond. He was the personification of Wild About Utah.

Ron’s legacy can be found in the thousands of youth who accompanied him in the classroom and field where they participated in many citizen science projects for birds, butterflies, countless tree plantings, restoring streamside environments, and competing in the Utah Envirothon, which Ron helped establish in Utah

He preferred the title “Redrock Ron” which Ron earned from his unflagging love for Utah’s red rock country, culminating with Zion N.P. His contributions there were many- writing curriculum for the park, Christmas bird counts, assisting with the state Envirothon competition which he convinced Zion to host, and much more. His greatest thrill were the many family hikes and campouts he reveled in, to have those near and dear with him to partake of its splendors.

Closer to home, Ron was synonymous with monarch butterflies, fireflies, and reforestation. He spent many years with students and others hatching, tagging, and releasing monarchs to help map their western migration patterns, adding new information to assist with their preservation. Ron was a relentless advocate for planting milkweed, the host plant for rearing the monarch’s chrysalis and caterpillars.

Once he discovered fireflies in a city marsh, Ron realized this rarity needed protection. As both a city council member and citizen, he convinced the city of their unique importance. The Nibley firefly park was the result. A few thousand folks showed up for its inauguration.

And “Trees are the answer” from Ron’s perspective. His plantings were notorious throughout our valley- from school grounds to open lots, his town recognized as a Tree City USA. Ron deeply appreciated all that trees provide for people, wildlife, protecting soil and our mountains watersheds. It seemed that whenever I visited Ron, he was planting yet another tree.

Ron was instrumental in establishing the first “Childrens Forest” with the USFS in Logan Canyon. He was the primary force behind his town of Nibley receiving Utah’s first, and yet only, designation as a Wildlife Friendly City through the National Wildlife Foundation.

As a member and major contributor to the Utah Society for Envioronmental Education and North American Association for EE, Ron’s influence as an extraordinary educator was recognized. He served on both boards where his influence was felt forming policy and programs on a state and international level. Ron was a relentless champion of classroom teachers in both of these acclaimed organizations.

Ron was a kindred spirit, the brother I never had. His presence will never leave me- every tree, monarch butterfly, firefly, trip to redrock country, Ron will be with me.

This is Jack Greene in behalf of our dear friend- Ron Hellstern

Ron Hellstern-Credits:

Images: Courtesy Morgan Pratt for Ron Hellstern
Audio: Contains Audio Courtesy and Copyright Kevin Colver
Text:     Jack Greene, USU and Bridgerland Audubon Society

Ron Hellstern-Additional Reading:

Ron Hellstern Obituary, HJ News, Legacy, https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/ronald-hellstern-obituary?pid=194911386

Ron Hellstern Author Page, Wild About Utah, https://wildaboututah.org/author/ron-hellstern/

Ron Hellstern’s Pieces on Wild About Utah:


Christmas Trees, Wild About Utah, Nov 25, 2019, https://wildaboututah.org/christmas-trees/

More From The Hidden Life of Trees, Wild About Utah, September 30, 2019, https://wildaboututah.org/more-from-the-hidden-life-of-trees/

The Hidden Life of Trees, Wild About Utah, August 26, 2019, https://wildaboututah.org/the-hidden-life-of-trees/

The Colorado Plateau, Wild About Utah, July 22, 2019, https://wildaboututah.org/the-colorado-plateau/

Living in snake country – six things to consider, Wild About Utah, July 1, 2019, https://wildaboututah.org/living-in-snake-country/

Hungry Hummingbirds, Wild About Utah, May 27, 2019, https://wildaboututah.org/hungry-hummingbirds/

Lawn Reduction, Wild About Utah, April 22, 2019, https://wildaboututah.org/lawn-reduction/

Silent Spring Revisited, Wild About Utah, March 25, 2019, https://wildaboututah.org/silent-spring/

Seventh Generation, Wild About Utah, February 4, 2019, https://wildaboututah.org/seventh-generation/

Ron Describes Exotic Invasive Species, Wild About Utah, January 21, 2019, https://wildaboututah.org/ron-describes-exotic-invasive-species/


Winter Bird Feeding, Wild About Utah, December 31, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/winter-bird-feeding/

Ron Imagines a World Without Trees, Wild About Utah, December 24, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/ron-imagines-a-world-without-trees/

Bird Feeding in Winter, Wild About Utah, November 26, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/bird-feeding-in-winter/

Composting, Wild About Utah, October 29, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/composting/

Wildfires, Wild About Utah, October 8, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/wildfires/

Invasive Species, Wild About Utah, September 24, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/invasive-species/

Migration, Wild About Utah, September 24, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/migration/

Exotic Invasive Species, Wild About Utah, September 17, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/exotic-invasive-species/

Incredible Hummingbirds, Wild About Utah, August 27, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/incredible-hummingbirds/

Leave it to Beaver, Wild About Utah, July 30, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/leave-it-to-beaver/

Keep Utah Clean, Wild About Utah, July 23, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/keep-utah-clean/

Knowing Trees, Wild About Utah, June 25, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/knowing-trees/

Attracting Birds and Butterflies to Your Yard, Wild About Utah, May 28, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/attracting-birds-and-butterflies-to-your-yard/

Poetry of the Forest, Wild About Utah, April 23, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/poetry-of-the-forest/

A World Without Trees, Wild About Utah, April 2, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/a-world-without-trees/

Journey North, Wild About Utah, March 19, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/journey-north/

Project FeederWatch, Wild About Utah, February 26, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/project-feederwatch/

Utah Envirothon, Wild About Utah, January 29, 2018, https://wildaboututah.org/utah-envirothon/


Winter Bird Feeding, Wild About Utah, December 17, 2017, https://wildaboututah.org/winter-bird-feeding/

Farewell Autumn, Wild About Utah, November 13, 2017, https://wildaboututah.org/the-farewell-of-autumn/

Autumn Migrations, Wild About Utah, October 16, 2017, https://wildaboututah.org/autumn-migrations/

Majestic Yosemite, Wild About Utah, September 11, 2017, https://wildaboututah.org/majestic-yosemite/

The Zion Narrows, Wild About Utah, August 21, 2017, https://wildaboututah.org/the-zion-narrows/

Build a Certified Wildlife Habitat at Home, Wild About Utah, July 17, 2017, https://wildaboututah.org/build-community-wildlife-habitats/

June Fireflies, Wild About Utah, June 19, 2017, https://wildaboututah.org/june-fireflies/

Conserving Water, Wild About Utah, June 5, 2017, https://wildaboututah.org/conserving-water/

Bird Benefits, Wild About Utah, May 1, 2017, https://wildaboututah.org/bird-benefits/

The End of Royalty?, Wild About Utah, April 24, 2017, https://wildaboututah.org/the-end-of-royalty/