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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Having fun with the outdoors

Thursday, August 5, 2010

For many kids around the area, the realization has hit that they have to seize the day and enjoy the last few moments of their 2010 summer break.

There is no better way for them to seize the day than by spending some time with their family and nature.

Here are a few ways you can enjoy the great outdoors with your family and friends.

Entomology is the study of insects. What better way to study insects than to actually trap a few in your own backyard?

All you need is an empty 2-liter plastic bottle, duct tape, string, some overripe fruit, scissors and an insect field guide. Start by cutting the top of the bottle off. Make the cut about one-third from the top. Next, cut the overripe fruit into small pieces and place in the bottom of the plastic bottle. Now insert the top portion of the bottle upside down, back into the bottle. Use the duct tape to secure the two pieces of the bottle together. In order to hang in a tree where you can easily view it. Finally, as you trap insects, look at a field guide to determine what insects are in your yard. Field guides may be purchased or even found on the Internet.

If looking at insects isn't your thing, then maybe you would like to do a fun activity involving forestry. For the following two activities, all you need is glycerin, clear contact paper, scissors and a bunch of trees.

For the first activity, collect the prettiest broadleaf tree that you can find. Preserve them by placing them in a mixture of one part glycerin and two parts water. Remember to keep the stem attached.

Let the leaves soak for a few days until they become soft and pliable.

Next, remove them from the liquid and allow them to air-dry for several days. After they dry, arrange them in a vase as décor for your house.

The second activity you can do with tree leaves involves making place mats. In order to do this, pick out tree needles and broad leaves from your trees. Press them in a telephone book or between other heavy books for several days. Next, carefully arrange small branchlets on a piece of clear contact paper. Finally, cover the branchlets with another piece of contact paper.

Be sure to press out air and trim all edges. Once you are done, place them on your table to serve as a unique place mat.

A wooden area is the perfect place for many wildlife to call their home. Thus, if you're interested in attracting wildlife to your woods, think about spending some time with your kids and friends building an apartment for the wildlife. In order to do this, find a place in your woods that is away from human traffic. Use branches, sticks, and rocks to build a habitat for small animals. Pile the branches using rocks or logs for support. While doing this, remember to wear work gloves and to not touch anything that resembles poison ivy or other poisonous plants. Remember, poison ivy leaves are compound with three leaflets attached to the petiole.

Once you get the apartment built, remember to come back occasionally to look for signs of wildlife. You might see places where squirrels have ate their lunch, tracks from rabbits moving about or even a snakeskin. One word of caution, don't go digging in the apartment if you suspect a poisonous snake is in there or a large predator.

Having fun with nature can be a great experience for a parent or grandparent to share with a young child. Remember to take time to record these experiences with photos that you can cherish forever.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture or any natural resource topic, please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu. Purdue is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Aug. 6-22 -- Indiana State Fair, Indianapolis,

* Aug. 14 -- Tenth annual Wild About Wildlife, McCormick's Creek State Park,

* Aug. 16 -- Master Naturalist Course. Eight-week course on Monday nights from 6-8 p.m., Spencer. Cost is $55. Call 812-829-5020 to register. Limited space available,

* Aug. 17 -- First day of school for Clay Community Schools,

* Aug. 19 -- First day of Spencer-Owen Community Schools, and

* Sept. 6 -- Holiday. Extension offices closed.