We started our week off in a new area of the Great Marsh rescuing plants such as Carex stricta, Iris virginica, and milk weed that would have been destroyed due to upcoming road construction. As the day went on we saved 25 buckets worth of plants to be installed elsewhere in the Great Marsh.
The next day we gathered the plants we had rescued and installed them in areas of the great marsh previously infested with the invasive cattail. We sped through those plants quickly and were able to rescue even more plants. In the afternoon, before we went back to planting, we took a field trip to an Artisian Spring nearby to bless us with its iron-y goodness (which Mason enjoyed oh so much). On our way out to go plant, Adam’s keen eye spotted 2 Monarch Butterfly cocoons. The rest of the day was spent mucking around in the Marsh planting the remaining plants.
Wednesday started out rainy and dreary and Dan, our NPS agency contact, told us to go home in light of the storms. Instead of wasting a perfectly good research day we spent the morning at a local café finalizing plans for our mid-season project. After a quick lunch we went out to visit local nurseries and stopped down by the beach to watch the massive waves, generated by the storm, break onto the shore. The next day was also extremely rainy and we spent the day in the library continuing our research for our midseason project. Friday was Adam’s birthday which we graciously gave him off and made up our last day on Saturday.
Saturday we went back out to Cowles Bog and went to town on any Carex stricta that was left out there so that it was planted prior to the onset of cold weather. Our grand total for the day was close to 2500 plants installed a record for not only our team but for THE WORLD!!! All in all it was an awesome week.
Over the weekend, Adam traveled to Virginia to talk to students at his alma mater about the SCA projects he's been involved with since graduating. Meagan and Mason travelled to Chicago for the first time and were blown away by the windy city. Rose also ended up journeying to Chi-town to visit her grandparents where she was able to see a number of sweet wetland plants. Danny avoided the city at all cost and chose, instead, to enjoy the fall foliage by hiking the Cowles Bog trail.
Columbus Day provided the team with a lazy Monday to recover from their adventures and a short week planting in the field.
Rose took over as hitch leader on Tuesday. Danny, Rose, and Mason bogged it up by themselves and managed to plant almost a thousand plants. On her last week of recovering from a muscle strain, Meagan finished up on light duty at the greenhouse weeding out flats and tending to the numerous growing bins at the NPS greenhouse.
Wednesday our dearly missed Project leader came back to us to celebrate Natural Resources Planting Day. The team was able to work with NPS staff from all divisions of the Natural Resources Department. The total for the day ended up being a whopping 113 flats (that’s 4294 plants!!).
Thursday was spent doing a number of different tasks, in the morning Adam, Danny, and Rose continued planting in Cowles Bog while Meagan and Mason stayed behind to finish cleaning out the last of the bins and organizing all the plants. In the afternoon Rose and Danny went to plant with the Bio Techs out near the raised fen while Adam brought Meagan to the doctors to finally be cleared to return to the field. Yay!
Our fourth hitch began with Danny volunteering to be our first Hitch Leader of the season. With having no Native Plant Corps experience, Danny would have to reshape his trail style to plant style. The weather felt like summer and our crew learned just how weird weather can be in Northwest Indiana. Every day during our fourth hitch, the temperatures were in the eighties and not a cloud could be seen in the sky.
Planting went well. The team worked with a couple of new plant species and made headway on decreasing the huge stockpile of plants at the NPS greenhouse that need to be planted before winter arrives. Our team exceeded all expectations again by planting as no team has ever planted before. Adam our crew leader made it a point to remind us to take-5 for safety and the crew has come to fear and respect the Porter county monster that lurks in the bogs and wetlands of Northwest Indiana. Luckily no one was injured but we all learned an important lesson about crypto-zoology.
Wednesday by far was the best day of the week. We learned what it was like to truly sink into the bog while rescuing Carex stricta plants from rising waters. Flats of plants were moved into more accessible areas for planting and we all got a strenuous work out. In a heated question of the day, Danny was reminded of his trail jockness when he chose Lord of the Rings (a glorified hiking story) over the original Star Wars movies as the better triology.
Thursday was a momentous day as the crew was thrust into the glamorous limelight of conservation stardom. With cameras rolling the crew was interviewed by some Purdue University students to explain why we carry on the mission of conservation and how our project was being implemented. After signing autographs the week came to a close.
Our lovely second hitch began with an exciting day planting with the NPS Restoration Team in the Great Marsh. This was our most productive day of the season with over 3800 plants installed. This was our first day working with the Bio Techs and we had fun meeting new people. One of the biggest surprises with working in the Great Marsh was not hearing continuous trains like our site in Cowles Bog. We were introduced to what silence is like in the Indiana front-country. We saw three sand hill cranes and a snake devouring an innocent frog. Working that day was fun because we learned firsthand what it would be like to work for the park service, and what it means to be part of the environmental movement that is still being shaped every day in our country.
Tuesday marked our first day where we would be in the office due thunder storms. All of us came up with our seasons goals with Adam with hopes of achieving them later in the season. After spending some time at Red Cup Cafe, we spent the rest of the day doing miscellaneous errands. One of these was a trip to the library to begin brain storming ideas for our upcoming mid-season project which is yet to be determined.
On Wednesday we rejoiced with the opportunity to get back into the field after being rained out. Planting continued and we worked hard to ensure that the native plants would triumph over the invasive cattail.
Then came Thursday, our last day before a three-day weekend. Business as usual at Indiana Dunes and our team planted for the first time in the rain. This marked an occasion for our team because we proved we could work in any weather condition mother-nature can throw at us (slight exaggeration). With our season lasting into early December this day would prove to be a training day for later days once the temperatures drop in October and November. Our afternoon was spent looking further into our mid-season project which is proving to be something that will test the strength of our all-star team. INDU out!
Another exciting week for the Indiana Dunes All-Stars! The week began with a lovely rainy morning which we spent weeding out the plant beds and tidying them up. This was followed by a rousing session of transplanting Carex lurida. The gang spent the afternoon sprucing up the chainsaws and giving them a lot of much needed love (and parts). The day ended by gathering at the local park to brush up on our GPS and botanizing skills.
Tuesday started off slow as the team came together to battle the overgrown brush along Beverly Road near Farmer’s Prairie. What was meant to be a quick job was met with obstacles including vines and the lack of proper equipment. But never fear! After regrouping and developing a new game plan, our brave tribe returned to conquer the brush and had made a strong headway by the end of the afternoon.
Wednesday, perhaps the greatest day ever in boardwalk construction history, was the first day we got to plant. To avoid the inevitable confrontation with swamp monsters (and sinking) a path of wooden pallets were placed through the forest of cattails to lead out to our restoration site. The afternoon gave way to the troop’s first planting experience, and for some their first experience of falling into the bog. Cowles Bog was happy to have us there. Planting continued throughout Thursday and though Rose is a seasoned pro the other members of the unit were in awe of this cathartic process of breathing life back into to the Earth (and all that other sappy stuff).
The majority of the crew volunteered their time on Saturday (National Public Lands Day) to help the National Park Crew lead a group of school children; however Mason was last seen driving toward Ann Arbor screaming “FOOTBALL!!!” with all his might. Though the morning started out slightly dysfunctional the kids from CIMBY (Calumet is my Backyard) finally arrived and planting was underway. We didn’t get to interact with the students very much but that day was as much a learning experience for us as it was for them. That day, the crew got introduced to planting in much wetter conditions and started to smash the exotic cattatils that invaded the bog. Vengeance was ours!!! Overall it was a very successful day and we would like to thank the kids of CIMBY for their interest in helping to save our world.
I graduated from Eastern Mennonite University with a B.A. in Environmental Science in 2008. I grew up in Mickleton, NJ on my family’s farm and credit my humble origins for inspiring a lifelong love of the outdoors and plant biology. I got my start with SCA working as an intern at Shenandoah National Park in 2007. Since then, I've had the privilege of leading Native Plant Corps teams in the State of Kentucky and at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and have been a member of a trail crew in Point Reyes National Seashore and a Desert Restoration Corps in the Mojave Desert. I'm looking forward to returning to Indiana Dunes this fall of lead my next Native Plant Corps team.
Born and raised in Connecticut, I recently graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a minor in Horticulture. Working towards a better understanding of field conservation, I feel like this trip will give me that perfect opportunity to help me succeed in the future. I like to spend my time reading, taking pictures, and just generally having a good time.
I am lucky enough to call the beautiful and green mountains of Southern Vermont home. In my free time I enjoy hiking, kayaking, star-gazing, plant identifying, listening to funky tunes, and doing crossword puzzles. Having graduated from Colgate University in spring 2010 with a BA in Environmental Biology, I decided to get involved in the SCA to get my hands dirty before applying to graduate programs. Being interested in wetland ecology, I was drawn to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for my first season with the SCA this past summer. I enjoyed planting like a maniac here in Cowles Bog so much that I decided to come back for the fall. I expect this season to be yet another great experience with the SCA!
My name is Daniel Shosky and I am 20 years old from Denver, Colorado. This marks my sixth round of service with SCA which began in 2007. I became extremly interested in the SCA when I finished my first crew off of the blue ridge parkway. Most recently I lived in Poultney, Vermont where I attend school at Green Mountain College where I am studying environmental studies with a concentration in environmental education. Growing up in colorado, I hiked 20 peaks above 13,000 ft. I enjoy hiking, knitting, trail work and snowboarding. I look forward to seeing how this crew plays out.
Danny was the first to arrive on the September after 7th and, after he’d settled in, Mason arrived hairless causing a great deal of confusion over who he was. The girls arrived later in the day, though Meagan lucked out and her flight was on time Rose was delayed yet again. The group enjoyed their first family meal together strenuously prepared by their project leader Adam. Over the next few days the group toured the town and national park while revisiting the ever familiar SCA rules and protocols. Our training also included learning how to identify and key out local and native plant speices that we would be seeing regularly in the field. We met the park’s botanist Dan Mason, much to his amusement that the crew had a Dan and a Mason in homage to his name. He welcomed Rose back with a new nickname – “Swamp Fox” – much to her delight. Friday night the group bonded over the Cotton Eye Joe and Cha Cha Slide and the rest of the weekend was spent visiting the local European Market, Popcorn Festival, and relaxing before their hard work started.
Brain arrived Monday to begin teaching us how to properly use and maintain chainsaws, IT WAS AWESOME!!! Though the Sassafras trees proved to be resistant to our masterful chainsaw skills we each managed to fell at least one tree. We learned firsthand the value of carefully checking all of the safety features before using a chainsaw so that we could walk away unscathed. After successfully completely the training the team felt confident in their ability to survive the coming zombie apocalypse and the coming season. We spent most of Wednesday morning performing an inventory of all the necessary supplies that we would need to keep the chainsaws in running order and shopping for other materials that would be required during the season. In the afternoon we returned to the park service station and transplanted a number of Carex lurida to get a feeling of what we would be doing in the field and on rainy days.
The crew had the next two days off. Danny and Rose went on a hike around Cowles Bog and they saw a sweet baby snake (yet to be identified) and a number of dead Monarch Butterflies along the beach. Saturday the gang participated in a groovy beach clean-up in Michigan City. They spent the morning combing the beach for assorted colors of plastic, building materials, and balloons. All together we ended up removing 295 pounds of debris and trash in a 2.5 hour time span. We then returned to Chesterton to check out the biggest “Wizard of Oz” festival in the country and spent our lunch hour perusing a number of booths with Wizard of Oz merchandise and watching the “Best Dorothy” contest (they had the most awesome cheese sticks ever). When our break was over we travelled to the Bailey Homestead at the national park to attend Heritage Days. We travelled back in time and learned how to churn butter, prepare hides, make sugar, and gather honey. The real excitement of the day was when we returned home and played Settlers of Catan, many enemies were made. Overall it was a very enjoyable first week and we are all glad to be back working for the SCA. That’s all for now, everybody wang chung tonight.
|Location Overview Map|
|Hitch 5: Rainy Rescues Rehabilitate Raparian Regions|
|Hitch 4: Whippin' Out Fliff like a Sultan|
|Hitch 3: One Ring to Rule the Crew|
|Hitch 2: Great Marsh, Goals, & Greedy Snakes|
|Hitch 1: Brushcutting Botanists Begin Bogwalking|
|What do Orville Redenbacher, Flying Monkeys, and Chainsaws have in common?|