Bug o’the Week – Fiery Skipper Butterfly

Greetings, BugFans,

The Fiery Skipper is one of a pair of distinctive skippers that was featured in a BOTW in 2013 (https://uwm.edu/field-station/fiery-and-common-checkered-skippers-family-hesperiidae/).  It’s an uncommon migrant to Wisconsin, but the BugLady saw 11 Fiery Skippers decorating the vervain flowers at Waubedonia Park recently, and they seem to be having a good year statewide, so she decided they deserve a more complete biography.

Skippers, so-named for their rapid, bouncy flight, are butterflies that the Field Guide to Butterflies of North America refers to as a “group of mostly small and confusing creatures” (the majority of skippers are either brown and orange or orange and brown).  They are not moths, but they are often called “moth-like” because they are big-eyed, hairy, and chunky.  Their short-wings have to work extra hard to propel them through the air (at speeds up to 20 mph, according to one source).  Skippers have sometimes been called a transition group between butterflies and moths, but a genetic work-up places them squarely in the Superfamily Papilionoidea along with Monarchs, Tiger Swallowtails, Red-spotted Purples and the rest.  Their antennae are different than a moth’s – ending with an elongate, hooked knob.

They are not moths, and the BugLady is dismayed when someone who should know better, like the University of California Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, says in a publication about lawn pests that “Fiery skipper adults resemble butterflies and…..”  Or when an article in the Journal of the Acadian Entomological Society in 2012 says “The Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus Drury, 1773) … is a medium-sized skipper … commonly found on both American continents. Moths typically fly from early September to late October” [emphasis, the BugLady].

Here’s a nicely illustrated “how-to” (though the BugLady was dismayed to learn that there are skippers in Australia, too) https://australianbutterflies.com/whats-difference-butterflies-skippers-moths/.

Fiery Skippers are in the skipper family Hesperiidae and the subfamily Hesperiinae, the Grass skippers (because their larvae eat various kinds of grass).  Grass skippers often sit with their front wings spread partly open and their hind wings a little less so.  Kentucky bluegrass is among the grasses on the Fiery Skipper caterpillar’s menu, and it’s considered a pest species in some areas because of the patches of dead, brown grass where caterpillars feed.  Caterpillars live on grass blades that they fold/roll lengthwise and web into a shelter.  Several sources pointed out that these shelters lie horizontally, close to the ground, below the blade of a lawn mower.  They pupate on the ground, and the adults emerge with only one thing on their mind – females immediately start scoping out good habitat for their eggs, and males sit on the tops of grasses watching for them.  Most reproductive activity takes place within their first few days as adults.  Here’s a nice set of pictures of their life cycle https://bugguide.net/node/view/452219/bgimage.

There is a lot of variation within the species; females’ wings https://bugguide.net/node/view/233966/bgimage are more patterned than males’ https://bugguide.net/node/view/1720496/bgimage, and females can be notably un-fiery https://bugguide.net/node/view/126346/bgimage.

Sometimes, when the BugLady is collecting information for a BOTW, her subject lets her know what story it wants her to tell.  In the case of the Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus), the story seems to be about where it lives.  Not in the short term – day-to-day it’s found in sunny, open spaces, often gardens, with flowers to nectar on and grass nearby for the larvae, from Canada to Argentina (with gaps in the Great Plains, Rockies, and Great Basin).  But this is a largely southern-to-tropical butterfly that none-the-less migrates from the southern/resident portions of its range to the northern US and into Canada in varying numbers from year to year.

And that’s a relatively new phenomenon.  According to the Massachusetts Butterfly site (whose data encompass 200+ years), the first Fiery Skippers were recorded in that state in 1940 (Rhode Island in 1911, Canadian Maritime Provinces in 1947).  In Butterflies of Wisconsin (1970), Ebner tells us that the earliest state records here were in 1952 and 1957.  He notes that the specimens “were rather fresh, perhaps being introduced here by stragglers that ventured into Wisconsin earlier during the same summers and layed [sic] their eggs.

In the south, around the Gulf of Mexico and in the desert southwest, they breed most of the year.  The butterflies that arrive here in early summer probably produce one brood that lives through the summer, but it’s too cold here for their caterpillars to survive the winter.  It’s possible that patterns connected to climate change are enhancing the weather that supports the Fiery Skipper’s tendency to travel, and it’s probable that the regions where caterpillars of this exquisite butterfly can overwinter will extend north.

A resource that the BugLady regularly checks includes a section on economic impact in its species information.  Fiery Skippers were given a plus for benefitting local economies via eco-tourism.  Butterfly fans in northern states may travel to Fiery Skipper sites in big years – indeed, the Massachusetts Butterfly folks initially scheduled field trips to the most reliable sites for the skipper.

Nota Bene: one of the hits that came up as the BugLady researched the Fiery Skipper was a range map on the Moth Photographer Group’s site at Mississippi State http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/large_map.php?hodges=4013.  She thought it might be another one of those skipper/moth deals, but it turns out that the group posts range maps for butterflies, just as they do for moths, but not pictures.  Good resource.

And this, by the BugLady’s count, is (drum roll) BOTW #550!

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

Summer Flowers Blossom Beautifully at Riveredge

Milkweed attracting a Monarch Butterfly at Riveredge Nature Center

Summertime is in full swing with flowers blooming in the prairies across Riveredge. Many plants have grown beyond eye-level (yes, for even adults!) and we can now watch the enjoy the phenological cascade of flowers that will appear in succession from now through September. Here’s a glimpse of what’s blooming right now across Riveredge.

Spiderwort at Riveredge Nature Center

Wow, Ohio Spiderwort Tradescantia ohiensis just seems to bloom forever. These flowers are now blooming in clusters throughout the prairie. Interestingly, whether blue or purple tells the tale of the air surrounding it. When growing in polluted air, Spiderwort turns from blue to purple.

Butterfly-weed blooming at Riveredge Nature Center

Butterfly Weed Asclepias tuberosa stands out with the bushy glow of its orange flowers. These are a relatively common native plant that does well in gardens. As its name suggests, this plant attracts Monarch Butterflies. Butterfly Weed roots have historically been chewed to cure pulmonary ailments.

Daisy Fleabane at Riveredge Nature Center

Daisy Fleabane Erigeron strigosus is continuing to bloom its small white flowers. This is an extremely long blooming plant – colonies sometimes lasting up to two months. Earlier in the year it was noted that these more often had a pink or purple hue to the petals.

Black-eyed Susan at Riveredge Nature Center

Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta is what some people might consider the archetypal prairie flower, with its bright yellow leaves radiating straight out like spokes on a wagon wheel. This plant has been bred to show a variety of colors, but here we feature this flower in classic yellow. Parts of this plant have nutritional or remedy value, and portions are not edible.

Queen of the Prairie at Riveredge Nature Center

Queen of the Prairie Filipendula rubra is a fascinating flower to stumble upon with its slight bulbous pink flowers that almost seem to glow in the midday sunlight. These flowers haven’t yet opened and once they do will take on a blustery, bushy appearance.

Purple Coneflowers at Riveredge Nature Center

What would you call a gathering of Pale Purple Coneflowers (other than Echinacea pallida)? A cone-hort? A cone-henge? A cone-vention? These flowers are famous for their unique drooping pink/purple petals. The genus of this plant is named for hedgehogs; referencing the spiny appearance of the central brown portion of the flower.

St. Johns Wort at Riveredge Nature Center

It seems fitting that with its sunny yellow flowers and whimsical collection of anthers, St. John’s wort Hypericum perforatum has been use for years as medicinal cure for depression. This plant has also been mixed with Calendula (among other ingredients) to formulate the popular first-aid cream Hypercal.

Wild Bergamot at Riveredge Nature Center

Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa is also known as Bee Balm or Horse Mint, as it is in the mint family. This plant has a variety of medicinal purposes when steeped in a tea. Bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies are attracted to this common resident of prairies and savannas.

Milkweed attracting a Monarch Butterfly at Riveredge Nature Center

Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca is blooming throughout Riveredge, and as common knowledge holds, attracts both larva and winged Monarch Butterflies. Other butterflies also use this species as a nectar source. If you have milkweed in your garden, multiple parts of the plant can be cooked and eaten.

Visit Riveredge for a hike today and see how many blooms you can identify!

Prairie Flowers are Beginning to Blossom at Riveredge

Within the past week prairie plants have shot up from the soil throughout Riveredge! Many are not yet blooming, but some have begun to display flowers. These pictures were taking in the last few days, and are a few of the plants you can find flowering throughout the prairies.

This weekend Riveredge hosts the Milwaukee Public Museum BioBlitz – a 24-hour celebration and race to find the most species in an area. Join us for free on Saturday, June 15 for the public portion of the BioBlitz from 10:00am – 3:00pm to meet MPM scientists and learn about their research. What’s a BioBlitz? Learn more here.

Daisy Fleabane at Riveredge Nature Center.

Daisy Fleabane Erigeron strigosus is blooming aplenty along the trails. This one is perfect for kids to learn to identify as it’s about perfect eye level for a three-year-old.

Red Clover at Riveredge Nature Center

Red Clover Trifolium pratense is a favorite of Bumblebees and increases soil fertility. Red Clover leaves and flowers are edible and it can even be ground into flour.

Slender Penstemon at Riveredge Nature Center

Slender Penstemon Penstemon gracilis also known as Slender Beardtongue is in the Snapdragon family. These can be seen in our Dry Prairie.

White Wild Indigo at Riveredge Nature Center

White Wild Indigo Baptisia alba is just barely beginning to show flowers. This showy legume grows tall and wide in the prairie, shaped like a bush. Despite how pretty it looks, this plant is toxic for humans and cows to eat.

Spiderwort Tradescantia occidentalis is just beginning to blossom and is immediately recognizable by the bright yellow anther against the purple backdrop. This species is named after John Tradescant the Younger (1608 – 1662), who was the head gardener for King Charles I of England.

Prairie Smoke at Riveredge Nature Center

Prairie Smoke Geum triflorum is beginning to display the reason for its name. The flower opens to display a wispy plume that blows in the the wind like a flowery smoke.

A few Sand Coreopsis Coreopsis lanceolata are just beginning to bloom at our Lorrie Otto Prairie. The interesting thing about Riveredge is that sometimes the same species in different locations will bloom at slightly different times depending on sunlight, soil type, and other factors.

Virginia Waterleaf at Riveredge Nature Center

Virginia Waterleaf Hydrophyllum virginianum looks like a flower that’s straight out of a Dr. Seuss book! These fascinating flowers can be found in shadier spots along the trails.

Blue False Indigo at Riveredge Nature Center

False Blue Indigo Baptisia australis is also known as Wild Blue Indigo and has many other colloquial names. It’s very similar in appearance to White Wild Indigo pictured above, but with deep blue-purple leaves, which seem presently a little farther along in blooming than the white.

Wild Four O’clock Mirabilis nyctaginea can be found beginning to bloom just outside of the backdoor the Riveredge Visitor’s Center. This plant is named for the time of day during which its flowers tend to open. This picture was taken around noon, and one could anticipate a showier flower later in the afternoon.

White Campion at Riveredge Nature Center

White Campion Silene latifolia is another that can be found close to the Visitor’s Center, and was introduced to North America in the early 1800’s. It’s flower petals tend to retract during the day.

Blue Flag Iris Iris versicolor is not a prairie plant, in fact it grows on the edges of ponds or along streams, but it’s blooming right now in its full splendor. Iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow, indicating its variety of colors.

Stop by and see what you discover at Riveredge – make sure to visit for the Milwaukee Public Museum BioBlitz on Saturday, June 15 from 10:00am!

Blooming Spring Flowers at Riveredge

Lesser Yellow Lady's-slipper at Riveredge Nature Center

Spring flowers are flourishing right now at Riveredge! These are known as ephemerals, meaning they won’t last long – so get here to experience these beauties soon!

Great White Trillium Trillium grandiflorum has been blooming for a few weeks along the Milwaukee River trails. “But that flower isn’t white?!” you say? Indeed! As trillium flowers age, they commonly turn pinkish or purple before the petals wilt.

Golden Alexander at Riveredge Nature Center

Golden Alexander Zizia aurea is one of the spring flowers blooming along the trails at Riveredge. It might not be immediately obvious, but this forb is in the carrot family.

Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium Geranium maculatum is blooming throughout forested areas. This herbal plant has been used for pain relief throughout history.

Another example of Wild Geranium, this image better displays the vascular structure of the petals.

Swamp Buttercup Ranunculus septentrionalis can be found throughout our moisture-rich lowlands. It can easily be confused for Marsh Marigold, but its flowers are much more pointed.

Lesser Yellow Lady's-slipper Orchid

Lesser Yellow Lady’s-slipper Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin, or Small Yellow Lady’s-slipper, is one of the more elaborate flowers, so named because of its appearance (the image above may show a better angle of the slipper appearance. Learn about our Native Orchid Restoration Project here.

Small Yellow Lady's-slipper

Sometimes, don’t you just feel like a third slipper?

Prairie Smoke

Blooming Spring Flowers in the Prairie at Riveredge

Wild Columbine

One Wild Columbine Aquilegia canadensis was observed blooming in a shady spot adjacent to the dry prairie at Riveredge.

Prairie Smoke

Prairie Smoke Geum triflorum is springing up from the soil, but hasn’t yet opened to show the wispy tassels for which it is named.

Prairie Shooting Star

Prairie Shooting Star Dodecatheon meadia is just beginning to blossom in a few spots. This flower is easy to distinguish because it looks like it’s pointing to the ground.

Native Orchid Restoration Planting at Riveredge

Riveredge volunteers and staff, along with employees of Stantec, gathered to plant seedlings that will become the basis of our native orchid restoration project. Stantec, Smithsonian – North American Orchid Conservation Center, Sheboygan County, and Wisconsin Coastal Management Program are all partners in this wide-ranging orchid restoration project. Thank you to our friends at Sheboygan County, as well as American Transmission Company, for generously providing materials and labor to build the Orchid Shade House where these plants are being raised!

Melissa Curran of Stantec is the leader of this orchid restoration project throughout the Midwest. She explains to volunteers how to plant orchid seedlings in pots inside the Orchid Shade House at Riveredge.

The Journey of an Orchid Seed

Orchids seeds begin as tiny, difficult to see specks the size of dust, and are dispersed through the wind. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum propagates and provides the seedlings for this project.

Many people may not realize that orchids are native to the Midwest. Orchids throughout this region are terrestrial, meaning that these orchids grow in the soil. Epiphytic orchids, the types that grow with aerial roots, are more commonly known.

Terrestrial orchids have complex fungal relationships, and certain species of orchid seedlings will only grow with the help of certain species of fungus. These species relationships are still a part of the mystery scientists are trying to solve. In the interim, seedlings are raised in a media culture, which provides nutrients and functions as a surrogate fungal connection.

These orchid seedlings grow in clumps and have to be pulled apart delicate care.

A soil combination is mixed, which drains quickly and doesn’t retain more moisture than the plants prefer.

Thank You Orchid Restoration Volunteers!

Thanks to everyone who helped us plant our orchid seedlings! Many hands makes light work – if you’d like to volunteer to help restore orchids throughout the Midwest, learn about volunteering at Riveredge.

One orchid seedling is planted in every pot. These plants will harden off to become acquainted with the natural conditions in the wild inside our Orchid Shade House.

Of course, once the orchids are potted, that ever important ingredient – water! We’re still looking for volunteers to help water these fledgling flowers.

And voila! Two weeks after the initial planting a sea of orchid seedlings sprout their first leaves inside the Orchid Shade House! Some of these flowers will be planted at suitable locations throughout Riveredge. Many of the orchids are destined to be planted throughout the Midwest in habitats where they are likely to flourish, or will bolster or reestablish orchid populations that have existed historically.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel visited to chronicle our orchid planting day, read their story about the project here.

Early Spring Flowers at Riveredge

Pasqueflower
Pasqueflower blooming on the prairie. Interestingly, the plant is named for the Passover, as it generally blooms at about the same time as the celebration.

It might still be a little cold for us humans to feel like we’re in the swing of spring, but plenty of ephemeral spring flowers are already blooming throughout Riveredge. One can even find insects beginning to orbit around these early flowers close to the ground. And insects means that the spring migratory birds will soon follow. Check out some of these beautiful flowers blooming along the trails at Riveredge.

Skunk Cabbage
Skunk Cabbage is one of the first harbingers of spring.
Skunk Cabbage Seeds
Check out those intricate Skunk Cabbage seeds!
Trout Lily Leaves
The green speckled with maroon Trout Lily leaves can be seen along the trail.
Trout Lily
Trout Lily flowers are just beginning to appear – just one was spotted this past Wednesday!
Hepatica
Hepatica can be found in a variety of colors.
False Rue Anemone
False Rue Anemone is another early spring bloom.
Pasqueflower
A side view of the intricate Pasqueflower.
Swamp Boardwalk
Despite being ecologically important, swamps, bogs, and wetlands are often regarded negatively. Between the lichen, Skunk Cabbage, and Marsh Marigold, our Swamp Boardwalk is one of the most colorful locations at Riveredge right now!

Visit Riveredge for a hike today!

Supporting Environmental Education through A Community Thrives at Riveredge

Urban Education at Riveredge Nature Center

Children today are spending less time outdoors, despite studies that support benefits to time spent in nature. Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) students score significantly lower (20.8%) in science than the statewide average (49.7%). Further, urban areas are increasingly losing green space. As a result, access to and comfortability with natural resources may inhibit Milwaukee area students from learning about science in natural environments. Through urban education programs at Riveredge, such as River Connection and the LUMIN partnership, Riveredge provides thousands of students the chance to learn hands-on in nature. You can support students learning about waterways at Riveredge by donating to A Community Thrives. Read below to learn by these programs are so important with quotes from students about their experiences.

LUMIN Partnership

Beginning in 2011, Riveredge partnered with Lutheran Urban Mission Initiative (LUMIN) schools to provide access to field-based environmental education for urban youth enrolled in LUMIN schools. Students travel to Riveredge for on-site programming paired with lessons in their classrooms. Regular collaboration with teachers, administrators, and curriculum specialists informs Riveredge to adapt programming to best meet the needs of the students while providing relevant experiences to support grade level curriculum.

“I learned about the river and how to help nature.”

Following the 2017-18 school year, Riveredge evaluation staff found that LUMIN students that participated in the program are more likely to explore new places and things in nature (27% increase). The LUMIN partnership brings an average of 1,000 pre-school through 8th grade students to Riveredge every year.

The River Connection Program

The River Connection program was established in 1998 to provide socioeconomically disadvantaged children access to environmental educational experiences that would likely be unavailable to them otherwise. The River Connection Program is a collaborative undertaking of two well-respected environmental education organizations within the Greater Milwaukee area: Riveredge Nature Center and The Urban Ecology Center. This collaboration optimizes the opportunity for students to compare and contrast the rural Milwaukee River location of Riveredge Nature Center and the urban Milwaukee River location of the Urban Ecology Center.

The entire experience, including the bus ride is an educational opportunity when taking part in The River Connection Program. Students make observations about the changes they see in the land over the course of the trip to Riveredge. Then, after testing the water here and comparing the results with water tested in Milwaukee, they’re able to hypothesize what uses of the land makes a difference in what is found in the water.

“It was scary but fun.”

It’s natural to fear that which we have little experience. For many children, nature can be an intimidating if they have little or no familiarity with the natural world. The LUMIN partnership brings several classes from Milwaukee to the Milwaukee River and Riveredge’s natural sanctuary to participate in the River Connection program.

“We got out into the country.”

Results from the 2017-18 pre/post survey found that 94% of students said they learned something new about nature, 82% of students said they would like to do the day’s activities again, and 90% of students said they want to do more to help nature. These findings indicate students’ desire to learn about, explore in, and care for the environment. In fact, 75% of students had never visited Riveredge before the River Connection program, and 85% responded either “yes” or “maybe” when asked if they’d come back to Riveredge again. The River Connection program provides impactful environmental education experiences for an average of 700 5th grade students each year.

“I loved the field trip so much!”

By expanding the science curriculum, the River Connection program and LUMIN partnership is fostering greater awareness in both students and teachers of the roles they play in nature. Exposure to both nature centers provides a broad portrait of Wisconsin’s natural landscape, illuminating the rural (Riveredge) and the urban (UEC). This diversity in exposure is critical, in both enhancing the learning experience through comparison and opening new doors to nature that students may not have considered before.

“I learned about the river and how to take care of it.”

This is just a small handful of stories collected from the thousands of students who have been impacted by urban education at Riveredge.

Riveredge subsidizes these programs to offset the costs for schools, but we cannot do it alone. With your help, thousands of kids can continue to get their hands dirty, learn about nature, and discover the interconnectedness of life. Together, we can foster the next generation of nature stewards to care for the bountiful natural resources of southeast Wisconsin.

Click Here to Support Environmental Education Today!

Fostering the Flowers of Tomorrow: Native Orchid Restoration at Riveredge

If a canary is a health gauge for air quality in a coal mine, then one might consider our native temperate orchids a gauge for the health of our native plant communities.

Judy Larsen, spouse of the first Riveredge employee Andy Larsen, remarked that when they arrived to Riveredge 50 years ago, she observed a healthy orchid population, including a prominent grouping of Yellow Lady’s Slipper along the Milwaukee River. Yellow Lady’s Slipper has since been extirpated. White-tailed Deer are known to prefer this species, and the large herd size could be part of the reason behind its disappearance. Today, we have three known orchids on the property and are working to support these remaining species.

By researching our ‘canaries’ we hope to better understand the variables that individual orchid species need for success. We aren’t doing this alone but rather through collaborations with local partners so we may ultimately restore them to areas where they once thrived.

Through a Wisconsin Coastal Management grant, we have partnered with Sheboygan County, Stantec, The Chicago Botanic Garden, and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to setup long-term monitoring locations in coastal counties, propagate hundreds of individuals, and raise said individuals in a shadehouse until they are vigorous enough for out-planting. Partners outside of this two-year grant include The Smithsonian Institute, North American Orchid Conservation Center, The Ridges Sanctuary, and Illinois College.  

Certain fungal communities work with orchid species through symbiotic relationships. In this way, the fungus is a surrogate root system for germinating seeds. Recognizing the importance of these relationships when returning a species to the landscape, our partner Illinois College is isolating unique fungal species associated with native orchids.

“It’s wonderful to see so many passionate researchers working together for the good of these species,” said Land Manger Matt Smith, “Through collaboration we can not only ensure the health of these species on our land, but in our region as well.”

In spring 2019, we will construct an Orchid Shade House, a nursery to raise native orchid seedlings for our immediate acreage and other natural areas that are suitable for temperate orchid reintroduction. We’re seeking the help of Citizen Science volunteers to document the health of orchid populations across our study sites, as well as anyone who has an interest in growing plants in the shade house. Through this project, you can help us discover the complex interconnected lives of Wisconsin plants and foster flowers that will be found by the next generation of explorers.

Make a difference with an end of year gift to Riveredge Nature Center

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens

can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing

that ever has.”  – Margaret Mead

Hello Riveredge Friends,

This much loved quote above has inspired countless impactful works that have indeed changed the world for the better. Yet, at the close of the 50th Birthday year of Riveredge Nature Center, there surely cannot be a more fitting summary of the collective effort which has been, and continues to create the impact of Riveredge.

Since 1968, so much has changed across the Riveredge landscape, and yet so much has stayed the same. Through it all, individuals coming together have been the driving force making a difference at Riveredge. On these last days of 2018, I ask you join with us to continue this collective impact in 2019 and beyond.

Just as in 1968, our world still needs nature centers and, I would argue, the need for this work is increasing daily. In 1975, Riveredge’s Board President wrote, “This (work) seems terribly important in an age when one can seriously foresee a walk through a forest as a walk through a plastic bubble.” In 2018, our world has appeared to strengthen the imaginary and real bubbles around us – separated from the natural world by our homes, our cars, our schools, our work places, and the alternative realities provided by technology. Traversing these barriers to invite nature into the lives our families, our neighbors, and our greater community is the work of Riveredge today.

If people are to become inspired to learn and care for the natural world, they must first discover and learn to enjoy it.

On these last days of Riveredge’s 50th birthday year, I leave you with words from Andy Larsen’s first newsletter article published in the autumn of 1969. Andy was the first Executive Director and Naturalist at Riveredge.

Being a part of this legacy of committed individuals changing the world at Riveredge is truly an honor. I hope you will join us as a committed member of the Riveredge Family. Alone, we can only do so much. Together, we are the thoughtful, committed citizens changing the world.

With great gratitude,

Jessica Jens, Executive Director

Where are We Going  
by Andy Larsen (1969)

“As Riveredge readies its facilities for schools and the public, our purposes and goals must be carefully examined.

Today, as never before, man’s existence is threatened by his very effect on his environment. I feel that the goal to which Riveredge must dedicate itself is the development of environmentally literate citizens.

An environmentally literate citizen can be defined as one who is able to recognize environmental problems and will take action to solve these problems. He must have a basic understanding of the relationships between man and his biological, geological and chemical environment.

Ecology, which might also be called environmental biology, is the foundation of the environmentally literate citizen and will be the basis for the programs conducted with groups using the nature center.  Without this basic awareness and understanding of the bio-physical environment, one cannot recognize or anticipate breakdowns in environmental systems that might arise through the development of a new technology, a social or a polictical decision or an economic action.

Preparing people to make educated choices about the social, political and economic activities that affect the environment that maintains their lives must be a major purpose of education. It is this aspect of education that is called environmental education – or, perhaps, survival education.

The goal for Riveredge, then, is offering programs that will help develop the environmentally literate citizens that are needed if man is to survive. Riveredge will be a center for Environmental Education. The land is our starting point for learning those ecologic principles that direct our existence. Riveredge can provide the framework for many programs in Environmental Education for the greater Milwaukee area.”

– Andy Larsen, 1969

Winter Camp 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do your kids miss summer camp and wish they had something exciting to do during winter break? We’ve got just the solution! Join us at Riveredge for our fourth annual Winter Camp!

Our beautiful 379 acres unveil a whole new world in winter. During our fun-filled days, we’ll hike, snowshoe, build campfires, create winter crafts, play awesome games and much more! Both indoor and outdoor activities are carefully planned based on the weather and led by our fun and fully trained camp staff!

It’s the perfect recipe for beating the winter doldrums (and saving mom and dad’s sanity during winter break).

 

FAQ:

What ages is this camp for? 

Winter camp is for campers aged 6-12. Once we have all our campers signed up, they will be divided into groups based on age, so you can be assured your child with be placed with an age-appropriate group!

What do campers need to bring? 

Once you’re signed up, you’ll get a full packet of info with everything you’ll need to know closer to the start of camp. But basically, enough layers and gear to be appropriately dressed for winter weather and a lunch. We’ll provide all the fun!

What time is camp? 

Camp is from 9 AM to 4 PM each day (Wednesday, Dec 26th to Friday, Dec 28), with an optional overnight option on Friday night (see below). Campers will need to be transported to and from Riveredge at those times each day.

What’s this overnight option about?

Campers will have the rare chance to experience Riveredge at night. Our camp staff will lead fun activities all evening, we’ll cook dinner over a campfire, and in the morning we’ll make pancakes with delicious Riveredge maple syrup. Don’t worry though, we’ll be sleeping inside! This Friday overnight is completely optional and participating campers will be need to be picked up at 9 AM on Saturday.

Do I have to sign up ahead of time?

Yes, please! Pre-registration is required and Winter Camp enrollment is limited and will be filled on a first-come, first served basis, so be sure to register as soon as possible!

What’s the cost?

Cost is $145 per camper for Riveredge members (not yet a member? Sign up here for huge discounts on camps, programs, special events, and much more!) or $160 per non-member child. The optional overnight add-on is $25 per child. (Pssst, have more than one child interested in attending camp? We offer a multiple child discount!  First registration is full price and each additional child will receive 10% off.)

Any other questions?

We’re happy to help answer them! Give our camp coordinator, Steff Merten, a call at 262-375-2715 or by email at smerten@riveredge.us

Cancellation Policy: Registrations may be cancelled up to 30 days prior to camp to receive a refund of registration fees minus a $50 non-refundable deposit. If you cancel less than 30 days before your week of camp, refunds are only given for medical reasons and family emergencies. These refunds are also subject to the $50 non-refundable deposit.