There are many kinds of nerds in the world and I have been accused of belonging to several categories but the title I wear with pride is that of “Nature Nerd.” This year I’m even lucky enough to get paid for my nature nerdliness by teaching kids about the great outdoors. I did a presentation yesterday teaching second graders about trees. They thought the sassafras twigs I brought in for them to smell were the coolest thing ever.
I feel that appreciating nature is an important part of green living. As Scott Russell Sanders once said, we only protect what we love and we only love what we know. So I’m always excited to teach – and to learn – about the natural world.
Next week I’ll be teaching a group of third graders about frogs. This is an awesome time of year to talk about frogs because they’re out doing their mating calls and producing huge quantities of eggs, including the alien-looking globule in the photo. I found it at a girl scout camp a few weeks ago and just had to touch it. It was totally cool.
Here in Indiana, this is a great time to go out in the evening and listen for frogs. All you need is a nearby body of water. The frogs are generally louder when it’s warmer and they will go silent if you make too much noise. Here are three of my favorite frog calls. (To hear some clips, check out this University of Michigan frog call site or these video clips of Midwest Frogs created by the Chicago Herpetological Society.)
If it sounds high and squeaky like a baby chicken, it’s probably a Spring Peeper, and boy can they be loud!
If it sounds like a twangy rubber band, it’s probably a green frog.
If it sounds like a shrilling alarm clock, it’s probably actually an American toad.