Author Archives: Karen Stein

Moose Hill’s Annual Native Plant Sale

Scarlet Bee Balm

Have you been spending more time in your yard and want to add some native plants to the mix? Well, it’s time to get your hands in the dirt and go native while supporting Moose Hill!

Our annual Native Plant Sale is going online this year – see what plants are available and pre-order for pick-up on Saturday or Sunday, June 6 and 7, from 10a-2pm each day at our Farm Barn conveniently located just off South Main Street in Sharon. In response to COVID-19, we are managing the sale as curbside pick-up only this year. We offer a wide variety of native perennials to help beautify your gardens and attract hummingbirds and/or butterflies to your yard. Whether you have sun or shade, moist or dry soil, we have plants that will enhance your gardens.

All plants are by pre-order only – use this form. We will call within 48 hours to confirm your order and take payment at that time. Forms will be processed in the order in which they are received and orders fulfilled while inventory lasts. The pictures of plants seen are when they are mature and in bloom. Please, no phone calls or emails to Moose Hill; this will slow down the process.

We will have your order ready and we will deliver it to your car when you arrive on your chosen pick-up day, either Saturday, June 6 or Sunday, June 7. Please make sure to have your trunk or back seat ready to receive plant(s). You may wish to have a box or container for us to put them into. All proceeds from this sale support Moose Hill’s educational programs. Don’t miss this opportunity to add high quality, native plants to your yard.

Proposed plant species for 2020: purple coneflower, blue mistflower, black-eyed Susan, marginal wood fern, lady fern, swamp milkweed, foxglove beardtongue, purple joe pyeweed, wild indigo, white wood aster, blazing star, cardinal flower, and scarlet beebalm! Plants are just $7 each and ferns are $10 each. 

The bonus, you have a chance to see our beautiful farm fields, located at 4 Moose Hill Street in Sharon, when you pull in for your order. Didn’t know that we run an organic farm? Learn more about our summer CSA or Farm Stand. Imagine a guaranteed 18 weeks of fresh, organic vegetables that average about $27-$32 per week! Shares are still available and if you register after the start date, we will prorate the share. But if you think that a share might be too many vegetables for you, we also look forward to opening the Farm Stand in mid-June, with some new rules in place of course. Your support of our farm provides Moose Hill with needed funds to continue the conservation work and educational programming that we have been doing for over 100 years.

As always – thank you for supporting local and native!

Joe Pye-Weed

A Wandering Naturalists Notes

Michael, who worked part-time for Mass Audubon for 15 years before joining the Moose Hill team permanently 10 years ago, is our very own wandering naturalist. He is always on the move, notices everything in nature, and has a passion for sharing what he sees. Michael can make anyone see just how amazing nature is – no matter where you find that place – in your town, at the shore, in the mountains. As with all of us, he is enjoying some daily walks on the streets in his town and shares the spring activity that is happening outside now.

Early Spring: Late March-mid-April

Welcome to Spring!!  After an exceptionally warm, and dry, January and February (8-9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 100 year average), this trend continued till late March when temperatures became more seasonable and precipitation more copious.   This, in turn, yielded the beginning of an earlier Spring with daffodills and crocuses up by mid-March, and birds like Pine Warblers returning from their southern, wintering grounds. Here are some of the observations I’ve made over the past few weeks on my Wanderings in my own neighborhood and what I know is awakening at Moose Hill. 

Red Maple flower (male)

Red Maple flowers—male: Some of the earliest of our trees to flower, giving off a “reddish-orange” hue from a distance; Driving along our roads and highways, this is one tree that you can identify clearly this time of year; the male flowers usually appear before the female ones to spread their pollen; with all of the rain and wind during April, many have fallen to the ground, littering lawns and driveways.

Red Maple flower (female)

Red Maple flowers—female: These bright red flowers tend to appear just after most male flowers have opened up AND for good reason, “Why bloom any earlier than you need to?”  New seeds (and genetic potential for the species) will be produced IF they are properly fertilized during the Spring; And IF that happens like usual, flowing water will carry them to a scarified embankment so that they may potentially germinate;  A few late freezes during early Spring (when morning temperatures drop to just below 32 degrees Fahrenheit)  might keep these seeds from even forming, so I am monitoring a few trees carefully.

Willow flowers (male)

Willow flowers (male): this genus of plants (especially the shrubbier species) also inhabits our wetlands and displays its flowers nice and early; One of the most northerly of shrubs, willows are a hardy lot, so no worries about their being able to survive cold temps and snow!  Just look at those little “pussy cat mittens!”

American Elm flowers

American Elm flowers: the Massachusetts state tree is one of the larger species to flower in the early Spring, also within wetlands and alongside streams & roads; still occasionally ravaged by Dutch Elm Disease in certain areas (western MA and up through VT), there are many healthy individuals in our neck of the woods IF you just look carefully enough—check out their classic form (below) and swelling flower buds as you drive along Rte. 27 (from Cobb’s Corner) up the hill to Sharon Center…there is a large individual on the left; Some are still in flower, while others are going to seed.

American Elm

The “vase-like shape” of an American Elm: those 3 trees I just mentioned (in Sharon) possess some of this lovely form, but not quite like those that grow in more open areas of New England.

Carolina Spring Beauty

Green Grass and early Spring Wildflowers!—some grasses flower in open, sunny forests; on lawns (and in protected areas) dandelions have begun to flower; skunk cabbage leaves enlargen, hiding their early Spring flowers; Carolina spring beauty blankets the forest floor of our lower sugarbush—a truly unique habitat in these parts with its deep, alkaline (or “sweet”) soils and almost always adjacent to a flowing body of water.

Spicebush flower

Shrubs—flowering and leafing out. The spicebush (in swamps/along streams, especially those found along Moose Hill Street) are beginning to flower and add a lovely, yellow hue to these habitats; growing at our “eye level”, they are quite easy to see; tiny yellow flowers with a “lemon pledge” type scent. Huckleberries, lowbush blueberries, and a whole host of invasive, exotic shrubs have begun to leaf out as well; flower buds of highbush blueberry begin to swell and soon will open, attracting bumblebees and other insects with their sweet scent.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawks–I’ve seen a number of these hawks circling overhead and making that distinctive, loud “Kyah! Kyah! Kyah!” over the past 2-3 weeks, often in pairs; Like Robins, Phoebes, Tree Swallows, and a handful of other birds, these are your “long distance migrants” that overwinter down in the southeastern US; So great to hear and see them back again down in these parts!  A pair nested in the swamp across the street from us last year and I am guessing that they’ll favor that again; A little smaller than your Red-Tailed Hawk with a tail that isn’t always so “broad”, besides the reddish coloration in spots and banding, are good field marks.

Pine Warbler

Along with the Yellow-shafted Flickers, Great Blue Heron, Killdeer, Woodcock, Eastern Phoebes, Tree Swallows, Field Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, and a few other species that have returned to their breeding grounds in our area (2-3 weeks earlier than in year’s past), the Pine Warbler has also made its return, filling the piney woods with its musical trill; more often seen than heard, although they occasionally visit bird feeders during April-May.

Spring Peeper

Spring Peepers!—the little chorus frogs have been calling over the last few weeks in the wetlands across the street from our home, as well as down the road in a much larger, Red Maple swamp;  a high-pitched, “peep, peep, preeeep”, almost reminiscent of sleighbells in the distance.

Wood Frog

Wood Frogs—these most-northerly of amphibians started calling (or “quacking”) in larger numbers within our Vernal Pools during the 2nd week of March this year, 2-3 weeks earlier than usual; usually, an “explosive breeder”, with males calling loudly over a few days period and determined to attract females; a few could still be heard chorusing along Moose Hill Street (and Moose Hill Parkway) during mid-April.

Eastern Garter Snake

Eastern Garter Snake—the most northerly of reptiles, at least 2 individuals were observed basking in the sunshine along the Vernal Pool Loop back in mid-March.

There’s so much happening outside – what are you noticing on your wanderings around your yard, your neighborhood, your town?

While the Nature Center, Gift Shop and trails are closed during this time, there are still a number of ways you can support Moose Hill as we prepare for when we once again can welcome everyone back – join Mass Audubon (there’s a new member special for just $32 dollars!); join our CSA, with a regular pick-up worth $27-$32 a week, it’s a guarantee of fresh, organic vegetables this summer; support our partners:

Musings from a Sidewalk Explorer

Ms. Patti, one of our educators who has been teaching preschool and kindergarten aged children at Moose Hill for 25 years, continues her daily walks around her neighborhood and shares what she sees and a few fun activities and resources for you.

Northern Mockingbird

As I continue to take daily walks as a means to keep active and stay sane, I have noticed an abundance of Northern Mockingbirds along my route.  This slender gray and white bird with flashes of white on the wings when it flies is not shy; I saw one dive bomb a cat years ago and one did a close fly-by of my husband last week. Look for them perched on phone poles, roof tops, and sometimes hiding in the shrubs.

The Mockingbird is a mimic…and an accomplished one too. This morning I would have bet the bird singing was a White-throated Sparrow, but alas, it was the Mockingbird.

Mockingbirds have been known to mimic alarm clocks, frogs, car alarms, and other sounds, including an array of local birds. It will repeat each call two to six times, although I have noticed it is usually in sets of three. So, unless you see a flock of singing birds, it is probably a single Mockingbird. 

Find out more about this bird:

On your next exploration in your neighborhood or yard this weekend, look/listen for the Mockingbird; you don’t have to be an expert birder to identify it. 

Take a lesson from a Mockingbird:

  • randomly choose a word from the dictionary (I suggest “crepuscular” to start) and use it at least three times in a day;
  • learn to count to three (and beyond) in a new language,
  • play the mirror game where one person copies the actions of another.

And, if you want a little extra fun this weekend, why not try one of these activities as you Explore Nature at Home.

Be well and be safe!

Tales from a Wandering Naturalist

Michael, who worked part-time for Mass Audubon for 15 years before joining the Moose Hill team permanently 10 years ago, is our very own wandering naturalist. He is always on the move, notices everything in nature, and has a passion for sharing what he sees. Michael can make anyone see just how amazing nature is – no matter where you find that place – in your town, at the shore, in the mountains. As with all of us, he is enjoying some daily walks on the streets in his town and shares the spring activity that is happening outside now.

Red-shouldered hawk

Across from my house, there is a resident Red-shouldered hawk who wakes us up each morning and just squawks a bit, so I have come to know this call quite well! Learn more about the Red-shouldered hawk and listen to it’s various calls here.

Red-tailed hawk

Yesterday as I was walking down the road in West Stoughton, I noticed a Red-shouldered hawk flying over calling loudly, ‘kiyah, kiyah, kiyah’. THEN it landed on a gray squirrel’s nest high up in an Oak tree.  Within seconds, a Red-tailed Hawk fly out from a nearby tree (making its distinctive call), and the smaller Red-shouldered hawk flew after it.  This is the second time I have seen the Red-shouldered hawk on top of one of those nests (close to the forest edge) too. Learn more about the Red-tailed hawk and listen to it’s various calls here.

Cooper’s hawk

But that wasn’t the end, within a couple of minutes, a Cooper’s hawk called from within this patch of forest. Learn more about the Cooper’s hawk and listen to it’s various calls here.

Quite an amazing few minutes there and definitely some competition for food resources between these 3 species of raptors, not to mention some nesting territory issues which does occur here.  Ah, but if they ONLY knew about the local, Great-horned Owl.

There are SO many things to see and hear in our area during April – what have you seen or heard in your neighborhoods?

Musings from a Sidewalk Explorer

Ms. Patti, one of our educators who has been teaching preschool and kindergarten aged children at Moose Hill for 25 years, continues her daily walks around her neighborhood and shares what she sees and a few fun activities and resources for you.

red maple flowers

Spring has marched onto the scene in the form of an exploded rainbow! As I continue my daily walks I have noticed the colors of spring: red maple flowers sprinkled on the sidewalk; yellow daffodils, dandelions, and forsythia; tiny purple flowers gracing a road edge; a perfect blue sky (finally), and the fresh green of new leaves just emerging. What colors have you noticed?

Try a few colorful experiments:

  • Mix a few drops of food coloring in glasses of water and see what happens.
  • Make “fireworks” in a bowl of milk (one of my favorite experiments)…find out how to make Color Changing Milk from Steve Spangler Science.
  • Create an art project with every crayon in the box and share your picture with us! 
  • Have a family color sing-down; it’s easy…divide into teams and take turns singing snippets of songs that include a color.  For example, “Somewhere over the rainbow blue birds fly.”
  • Of course, if you can venture onto area sidewalks, you can always search for your favorite color while outside.

And, enjoy another great story from Shawn – A Finnish tale about the Northern Lights

Be well and be safe!

Critter of the Week: American Robin

Ms. Patti, one of our educators who has been teaching preschool and kindergarten aged children at Moose Hill for 25 years, sent a fun little update to her Knee High Naturalists and we thought we would share it with you – fun for the young ones, but fun for adults too!

Miss Patti exploring the fields with her Knee High Naturalists

Hello, I hope you are noticing the arrival of spring.  Even with the current situation, I walk daily and have been delighted to see spring’s arrival from my neighborhood’s sidewalks.  Trees and daffodils are blooming, birds are chirping spring songs, and at some point the temperatures will warm.

Look for robins working any lawn.  They run, run, run and then stop.  As they tilt their heads they are actually looking for worms/insects since their eyes are on the sides of their heads.  Play the “robin game” in your yard…it’s easy.  Run about and when the caller says “stop” look at the ground to see what you can notice.  What’s hiding in the grass?  Is it easy being a robin? Below is some great information about robins.  Or check out Mass Audubon’s website for additional information about this and other birds: https://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/birds/spring-summer-birds

Critter of the Week:  American Robin: the American Robin is a familiar sight pulling up worms on suburban lawns. Although it’s at home breeding in deep, mature forests, the robin is the most widespread thrush in North American thanks to a tolerance for human-modified habitats.

Description: a large thrush, back and wings gray, underparts red, dark head with white eye crescents. These birds are between 20-28 cm (8-11 in), weigh about 77 grams (2.72 oz) , and have a wingspan of 31-40 cm (12-16 in). If you measured your outstretched arms from fingertip to fingertip – what would your wingspan be?

Sex Differences: sexes look similar; female paler, especially on head.

Sound: song a musical whistled phrase, “cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up.” Call note a sharp “chup.” Also a very high-pitched thin whistling note. Click here to listen to the sounds of the robin from the The Cornell Lab.

Conservation Status: populations appear stable or increasing throughout its range. Because the robin forages largely on lawns, it is vulnerable to pesticide poisoning and can be an important indicator of chemical pollution. You can help scientists learn more about this species by participating in the Celebrate Urban Birds! project.

Cool Facts:

  • Hundreds of thousands of American Robins can gather in a single winter roost. In summer, females sleep on the nests and males congregate in roosts. As young robins become independent, they join the males in the roost. Female adults go to the roosts only after they have finished nesting.
  • The American Robin eats both fruit and invertebrates. Earthworms are important during the breeding season, but fruit is the main diet during winter. Robins eat different types of food depending on the time of day; they eat earthworms early in the day and more fruit later in the day.
  • An American Robin can produce three successful broods in one year. On average, though, only 40 percent of nests successfully produce young. Only 25 percent of those fledged young survive to November. From that point on, about half of the robins alive in any year will make it to the next. Despite the fact that a lucky robin can live to be 14 years old, the entire population turns over on average every six years.
  • Although the appearance of a robin is considered a harbinger of spring, the American Robin actually spends the winter in much of its breeding range. However, because they spend less time in yards and congregate in large flocks during winter, you’re much less likely to see them. The number of robins present in the northern parts of the range varies each year with the local conditions. For a discussion of how snow cover affects wintering robins, based on Great Backyard Bird Count data.

Take a moment and enjoy a story from another one of our education coordinators and our camp director, Shawn, about how the robin got it’s red breast. Listen here.

We hope that you find time everyday to look for the many signs of spring in your own yard, or in your neighborhood – draw a picture, keep a journal of your observations, write a poem, take a picture – and then share those things with us! We’d love to hear from you.

Reflections of the Sugaring Season

The Sugar Shack

This year, we were not able to share one of our most favorite seasons, the sugaring season with you. While we ran a few programs in early March, our beloved Maple Sugaring Weekends were cancelled – we missed seeing you all out on the trails learning about the history of sugaring and tasting that oh, so sweet treat. However, even though programs were cancelled, the sugaring season went on and we had a great year for producing our own maple syrup.

Vin, whom some of you know as our property steward and who is an incredible birder, also leads our sugaring efforts. We had a few changes to our operation this year and we asked Vin to share his insights on sugaring at Moose Hill over the last 12 years.

Vin demonstrates tapping a tree

When I started here we had about 80 taps (some trees have more than one tap) and made approximately 10-15 gallons of syrup for a couple of years. We steadily increased the number of taps and in the past few years, we were up to 155 taps. During this time, the taps have been rotated to other trees in the same season when the original taps showed signs of slowing down, bumping our number of taps up to about 250. These increases brought syrup production into the 35-40 gallon range.

the new evaporator

In 2018, we purchased a larger (30 inch by 8 inch) evaporator which made it possible to expand production even more because this new, larger, and more efficient, evaporator could process sap much faster. The old evaporator boiled off 20 gallons per hour, but the new evaporator boils off up to 70 gallons per hour.

a traditional system – tap and a bucket

In 2020 (this season), we decided to increase the number of taps by 115. As we have always used a traditional bucket collection system that would mean a larger increase of work. However, this would be done by using tubing as opposed to the traditional buckets. Tubing is a more efficient way to obtain sap and yields more sap per tap than buckets. The reason behind the yield is because tubing is considered a “closed” system, allowing very little outside air to infiltrate the area where the spout goes into the tree, resulting in less buildup of microorganisms. These microorganisms eventually cause the trees to stop the flow of sap prematurely so the tubing helps to extend the sap season. Once a tree is tapped, a traditional spout that has a bucket generally runs for about five weeks. Attached to the tubing system, that same spout will run for about 8 weeks or more, ultimately providing more sap. Another advantage of the tubing system is the natural vacuum that is created within the tubing which also increases the yield. This is due to the sloping terrain in the section of sugar maple woods that we tap (our main sugarbush). The weight of the sap in the small diameter tubing (3/16 inch) is what creates this vacuum and in year one has outproduced the traditional buckets at least two to one, if not more.

a tubing system – lines in the woods

We installed five main (lateral) lines with about 20 tapes per line. These five lines flow down to a low spot in the sugarbush into a 300 gallon holding tank. From there, the sap is transported to the Sugar House holding tanks, and then into the evaporator for processing. The last two seasons have been average or above average for sap flow. In 2019, an above average year, about 2,800 gallons of sap were collected. This year, which was an average flow, the additional 115 taps on tubing yielded close to 5,000 gallons. The 2020 season also turned out to be a short season for sap flow. The trees were taped at the end of January (traditionally, on average, it is the first week of February) and slowed considerable by the end of the first week in March due to the weather being too mild. I wasn’t able to rotate any of the buckets to other trees this year to extend the season, which further illustrates how effective the tubing system functioned in year one.

All in all, I’m very pleased with the tubing. There was a large learning curve to a new system and there are still many bugs to work out, mostly in transporting sap. But, as we look forward to next year, we will retire the bucket system in our main sugarbush. Don’t worry, all the places we go to for programming and the Maple Sugaring Weekends will still feature the traditional buckets. But, by converting the rest of our main sugarbush to tubing, and using the same amount of taps, our production will likely go up even higher.

Our next challenge to work on – the bottling operation. This is a time consuming job that was developed based on past production. With an increase, we will need to think about how we make that more efficient.

With the large increase in sap production, you might wonder how that actually translates into syrup volume. As you might remember, the traditional formula for sap to syrup is 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. Over the years, we have noticed that it is often more like 45-50 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. There are a number of reasons why this might happen, but that’s a story for another day.

Here are a few stats from our last four seasons of maple syrup production. In 2017, we produced 37 gallons of syrup; in 2018, we produced 35 gallons of syrup; in 2019, we produced 53 gallons of syrup and then this year, 2020, we produced 76 gallons of syrup.

We don’t sell our syrup by the gallon, but in 8 oz bottles and 1.75 oz maple leaf bottles. This year, our 76 gallons of syrup translated into 1,100 bottles and 335 maple leaf bottles. Now that’s a lot of syrup!

With Moose Hill and our Gift Shop currently closed, you might wonder how you can get some of our delicious maple syrup to enjoy. We have once again partnered with our neighbors and friends at Ward’s Berry Farm and they are selling Moose Hill syrup – so another reason to support a local farm and get a sweet treat from us.

March Happenings at Moose Hill

It’s hard to believe that March is here! How did that happen? In a winter that has been a true roller coaster ride in temperatures but with a lack of real snow, at least in our area, it has been a great winter to get outside and explore. We’ve noticed a lot of things that have been different – from the sounds we are hearing to the birds and animals that we are seeing. What have you been noticing on your outdoor adventures this winter?

As each day gets a little longer, that weather that we truly look for in mid- to late- February and into March has arrived (at least some of the time). When we begin to see consistent nights below freezing and days that warm to 40-45 degrees F, we turn our programs and hearts to the sugaring season. Even as we enter March, we have already had an incredible start to the season. Maybe it was the tubing we added to parts of our operation, maybe it has been the right combination of temperatures, but either way we have SYRUP. The evaporator has been going and we are delighted with the bottles lining our shelves waiting for you in the Gift Shop. Stop on in, plan on pancakes or waffles tonight or this weekend and enjoy the sweet season!

There are lots of programs to choose this month – but remember, register early to secure your spot. Love a program and want to make sure it really does happen? Grab a friend or two and register together. Most programs need a minimum of 4-6 people and some programs will sell out quickly.

Knee High Naturalists – Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays, 9:30 am-noon: Using games, songs, art, and plenty of outdoor hands-on/minds-on activities, Miss Patti explores the nature of Moose Hill with your 3-5 year old through the changing seasons. While sessions have begun, we still have some spaces available and you can still register. Contact Patti, 781-784-5691 for the prorated pricing.

Fledgling Fridays – March 6, 13, and 20, 1-2 pm: Designed for you and your child aged 3-5 and focusing on sensory development, each program has it’s own theme all while creating art, participating in STEAM activities, listening to stories, and exploring the outdoors. In March, we explore many different aspects of the sugaring season!

Climate Cafe: Birds and the Changing Climate – March 10, 5:30-7:30 pm: Join Mass Audubon’s Director of Bird Conservation, Jon Atwood and our TerraCorps member, Maddy, for an evening of discussion. Snack and drinks will be provided at the FREE event held at the Sharon Public Library.

Maple Sugaring Behind the Scenes – March 13, 7:00-9:00 pm: This program is designed for the adults! Learn about how we turn raw sap into maple syrup, complete with a variety of tastings of maple – drinks, waters, syrups – plus visiting the sugar shack at night is an experience you don’t want to miss!

Maple Sugaring Weekends – March 14, 15, 21 or 22, tours between 11 am and 3 pm: This 90-minute outdoor, guided tour includes meeting people portraying characters from the past as they go about their daily tasks, including sugaring. Conclude your tour at our operational sugar house and enjoy a taste of the final product. Head back to the Nature Center to get your own bottle of Moose Hill syrup in the Gift Shop and purchase pancakes, sap dogs or maple sugared popcorn. This program often sells out, so be sure to register to secure your spot!

Nature Nerd Trivia Night – March 18, 7:00-9:00 pm: Enjoy a fun evening of nature trivia. You will learn about the passions of the Moose Hill staff and their curiosity – every night brings laughter, discussion, learning, and fun! March’s theme Small Things in Nature.

Junior Conservation Commissioner Program – begins March 25, 4-5:30 pm: In partnership with Walpole’s Conservation Commission and the Walpole Recreation Department, Moose Hill is excited to provide children ages 9-11 years old a chance to become a Junior Conservation Commissioner. This five-session science and civics program led by Julia, a teacher naturalist from Mass Audubon’s Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, will take place at Blackburn Hall in Walpole with one scheduled field trip to Moose Hill.

Moose Hill Walkers – begins March 30, 8:00-9:00 am: Join Patti for a weekly walk to see the arrival of spring while learning the trails for walks later on your own. A great way to kick start your day and the best value is to register for the series!

Curious about what’s coming? April is just around the corner and so is April Vacation Week – plan early to secure your child’s spot in our popular vacation week programming. We are always adding new programs so check out the calendar often or follow-us on Facebook or Instagram. Have a program you would love to see us do? Let us know, we might just have something in the works.

OR are you already hoping for summer? Summer Camp registration and Summer CSA registration are in full swing!

Scheduling your time seem too much – no worries. Come for a hike on your own. Our trails are open when the parking lot is open (7:00 am-7:00 pm), 7 days a week. Stop in the Nature Center before you head out and let us help you plan your hike.

And while you are here, check out our Gift Shop. We have a wide variety of nature-themed products for sale, many from local artists. We also have Moose Hill branded items and snacks and drinks to enjoy.

No matter how you choose to spend your time this February, we hope that Moose Hill will be a part of your plans – we look forward to seeing you here.

Sugar on Snow from a Vermonter’s View

by Danielle Lanson, Administrative Assistant and Office Manager

that sweet, sweet steam

As a Vermont native, maple syrup wasn’t just something you put on pancakes. It was a tradition, a season, and a way of life. I’ve traded chickens for it, I’ve been paid for home improvements with it, and I’ve sat around pots of boiling sap in a room full of white beards and flannel passing down stories while the sweet steam seeped into my clothing creating memories to cherish in years to come. Maple syrup was about community, more than it was about creating a product. As I got older and my life got busier, there was less time to spend hanging out in sugar shacks but one tradition that always remained was sugar on snow.

getting ready to pour some on snow

Every March, the entire family got together to go experience the essence of Vermont in its chewy and caramelized form over hot cocoa, cider donuts, and laughter. The winters are long up in Vermont, so we celebrate the horizon of spring by pouring piping hot maple syrup over packed snow to create the iconic Sugar on Snow that has become a well-loved tradition signaling the end of winter and the beginning of mud season, which then gives hope for spring.

In honor of these northern traditions, we are excited to offer a Sugar on Snow program for all here at Moose Hill to bring you the full experience of the sugaring season.

Want more? Check out all the great Maple Sugaring Programs: Maple Sugaring Weekends, now two full weekends (great for everyone!); Behind the Scenes tour of our sugaring operation (for the adults); and Fledgling Fridays programs (for you and your child age 3-5 years).

We hope to see you here, enjoying our sweetest season!

Teen Leadership Experiences at Moose Hill Nature Day Camp

by Shawn Moriarty, Moose Hill Education Coordinator & Camp Director

 In the world of summer camp, we talk about, explore, and teach leadership a great deal.  We spend time on the topic of leadership because we know as Camp Directors that if we want great staff, we need to train them in the skills we want them to have. And for many camp staff, working at camp is often their first job and they might not have a lot of experience in learning about leadership directly.

Leadership is one of those words that we hear frequently in a wide variety of contexts. There are thousands of takes on leadership in the arenas of business, organizational development, military tactics, athletics, and Ted Talks. There are debates on if leadership is made or innate inside of us.

If you are a parent and you have a young adult who is between 14-16 years of age, and you would like them to develop their skills in leadership, consider having them take part in one of our two leadership experience programs here at Moose Hill Nature Day Camp. We offer two programs: Leaders In Training (LIT) and Counselor In Training (CIT). They are different programs, and they both focus on developing leadership skills.

For those of you who have been with us for a few years, you will notice that we have changed the previous LIT program. It was a great program. And we are making the change to better serve our campers, camper families, and the future of camp. We have noticed two things: 1) We have a great group of older staff coming up through camp, and 2) Older campers can tend to have busy schedules during the summer.

We have redesigned our Leaders In Training (LIT) program and designed a new Counselor In Training (CIT) program to meet these two observations. The new redesigned LIT program is 1-week in length, and the participants will spend the week experiencing leadership first hand. The LITs will help run some activities during the week for the rest of camp, they will take a personal Leadership Skills Self-Assessment, and they will take part in leadership experience initiatives. The LIT program can be taken multiple times over the summer. The format will remain the same, and the activities will change. The LITs will not be assigned with a group of campers, but they will do activities with campers that they create. And while we offer this program at camp, it is not just about working at camp. The skills developed and explored in this program, can help the participants be better leaders outside of camp.

The new CIT program, provides a 2-week training for participants who want to develop skills needed to work at camp. In addition to working on leadership skills, the CITs will also help lead activities, learn topics on child development, participate in team experience challenges, and build their naturalist skills. The program is 2-weeks long and runs in sessions 2/3, 5/6, and 8/9. Sessions 4,7, and 10 are when CITs can come and get a week of experience with a group of campers. The 2-week sessions will allow the group of CITs to learn how to work together, and perhaps more importantly, build their skills together on what it takes to build a community. We are developing this program so that 1) the CIT’s who come out of this program have some great skills as camp staff, naturalists, and leaders, and 2) we get to invest in some of the people who could be the next generation of amazing staff here at Moose Hill Nature Day Camp.

 Leadership is a challenging topic. We will ask for the participants to give each day their best effort. We will ask them to try difficult tasks. We will give them responsibility. And we will give them tools to develop their skills as leaders. If your teen wants to build their leadership skills and understanding, consider giving them the gift of experiencing these programs. 

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Sign up for Leaders in Training

Contact Julia to sign up for Counselor in Training.