Author Archives: Fountain Rock Park & Nature Center

Meet the Staff: Sam

sam-and-gloriaFR: What’s your job here at the Park?

Sam: I’m a Nature Program Instructor/ Animal Care Technician. I teach many classes at Fountain Rock, and I also take care of our wonderful animals in the nature center. I have also been working to develop our bee and wasp displays and am currently working on a project to create a bee hotel.

FR: Oooh, give us some more info on the bee hotel.

Sam: The hotel is going to be a sanctuary where many native Maryland bees can live. It’s going to be a small enclosure filled with natural wood and places for solitary bees to live. Bees are a very important pollinator in our world and we need to do what we can to help them survive. Pesticides have really degraded their immune system so any little help we can do is great.

FR: How did you get involved with the Park?

Sam: I was working in a lab and I was quite unhappy, I was working like six hours straight without seeing the sunlight; it was very depressing. So I quit my job, got an interview here and fell in love with the place. Being around great people, educating the public, and working outside makes me much happier. I fell in love with our observational bee hive in the nature center and through that I found my passion for doing bee research. I’ve actually taken some bee keeping classes and plan on applying to grad school to do bee research.

FR: Do you have any background in the outdoors?

Sam: I grew up doing Girl Scouts, my mother was our troop leader, so I was always involved with a lot of outdoor activities. After college and being out in the real world, you kind of lose sight of the importance of nature so this was a good opportunity to get back in touch with my more adventurous side. Nature is a place you can have an adventure in. You could be boring and have a desk job 9am-5pm paying off bills, but nature will always be there to give you an adventure and let you relax from the real world – if that makes sense.

FR: It does to us! Why is environmental education important to you?

Sam: It’s the future. One of the biggest problems facing our world and humanity is the pollution and destruction of our environment. And it’s important to educate the next generation so they can make changes for the better. We teach the importance of nature, how it does affect our day to day life and it’s not something that should be put behind a glass enclosure. You live in it and it will affect your everyday life. It’s important to nurture it for the next generation. We teach the younger ones about observation: it’s very easy to take a hike and tell yourself you didn’t see anything – it take a certain type of person to stop, observe and see what’s around us. That’s when you get to see all the life around us, the trees, the birds, the insects, the sounds.

FR: Reminds us of our own park. What are some of your favorite programs?

Sam: I really enjoy nature pals. It was the first class I taught by myself, it’s with the younger group of kids from 0 to 3. Its great being able to have the kids connect with nature but also seeing the parents being involved with it as well. It brings families together, and lets them enjoy what we have to offer.

FR: Last one, give us a fun fact.

Sam: My favorite animal is a fox. I have a fox tattoo, I have a dozen fox stuffed animals, I have a fox hat with fox ears. I’m known as the crazy fox lady. The reason why I love foxes so much, is because they’re a good representation for who I am. They’re mysterious and elegant creatures from afar yet when they open their mouths it’s nothing but screeches and giggling. (Editor’s note: When I first met Sam, she was indeed dressed in a fox costume.)

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Deep in Trout

I am in awe of nature. The life cycles of millions of species seems to flow so effortlessly. Growing up in Montana hiking in parks and forests and fishing in streams, rivers and lakes I had no idea all of the complex interactions taking place around me. Through the Trout in the Classroom program at Fountain Rock Park, I have learned how much work it is to try to recreate nature in captivity. I feel passionately about the Mid-Atlantic Trout in the Classrooms mission to introduce students to cold water conservation in order to make them better protectors and advocates for clean and healthy waterways.

In 2015 I had my initial training to be part of the Trout in the Classroom Project. We successfully raised about 124 trout from egg to release. In 2016 I took an additional training session to better assist with the 2016-17 Trout in the Classroom Project. On December 16, 2016 Fountain Rock took delivery of our eyed eggs for the current program. The eggs began to hatch before Christmas. The sac-alevin have absorbed their sacs and have just been released into the tank.

Each year schools all over the state of Maryland and the country take part in the Trout in the Classroom Project. Under teacher supervision, students set up a tank with a chiller, bubbler and filter. They carefully de-chlorinate the water and add beneficial bacteria to prepare for their special delivery of eyed trout eggs. Delivery day means carefully tempering the water and placing the eyed eggs in a basket to monitor their health. Students test the water, perform tank maintenance and monitor the eggs until they hatch into sac-alevin.20161230_133005-003 After hatching the alevin absorb their yolk sack while growing into all of their fishy features. They learn how to swim up to get food before being released from their nursery basket into the tank.  Students learn about the very specific stream requirements wild trout need to survive and thrive and the importance of trout to the greater food web. Students raise their trout to the parr stage and eventually release them, usually in May, into
pre-approved streams.

The Trout in the Classroom tank at Fountain Rock Park is located in the Nature Center. Since we are a nature center and not a school, the program is run by volunteers and students from our Nature Academy and Big Outdoors classes. We have special releases for our student helpers and the public in early June. We also keep a small number of trout over the summer to be cared for by our summer camp participants. The final release of trout is the last week of camp. The nature center is open to the public 10-4 Saturdays and 1-4 Sundays so anyone can come observe little trout growing.

~Monica Wenzel

Trout in the Classroom Volunteer

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Fall Programs Are Just Around the Corner!

In this sweltering summer heat, it’s refreshing to think about the cool and colorful days of Fall. September is just around the corner! Take a look at our 2016 Fall Nature Program schedule:

Enjoying a crisp fall day at the boardwalk at Fountain Rock Park

Featured Series Programs

Nature Academy
Get ready to play in the park! Observe, listen, smell, and feel the outdoors in this interactive program designed for our smallest nature lovers. Our supplemental, nature based, program is for those pre-school aged children that learn best naturally. Join us as we explore the woods, the creek, the fields, and look deep into our environment to discover answers together.

Ages: 3 – 5 | $119 for the 12-week semester
REGISTER NOW for Mondays 12:30 – 3:00pm, Sep. 12 – Nov. 28
REGISTER NOW for Tuesdays 9:30 – 12:00pm, Sep. 13 – Nov. 29
REGISTER NOW for Wednesdays 12:30 – 3:00pm, Sep. 14 – Nov. 30
REGISTER NOW for Thursdays 9:30 – 12:00pm, Sep. 15 – Dec. 8

Big Outdoors
Our semester-long outdoor class for the big kids! Take a weekly adventure into the woods, creek, or fields to explore natural science concepts that teach you how the “real world” works.

Tuesdays 12:30 – 2:30pm | Sep. 13 – Nov. 29 | $149 for the 12-week semester
REGISTER NOW for Pathfinders (Ages 6 – 8)
REGISTER NOW for Trailblazers (Ages 8 – 11)

Rustic Arts
This fall, it’s all about fairies. Learn how to make various fairy furnishings the first week, then come back to make small fairy size gardens. Finally, we’ll build a house just for your fairy friends. Joins us for one class or all three to put everything together. We will provide all of the supplies, you bring the imagination! Ages 12+ | $18 per person

Sundays from 1:30 to 2:30pm
REGISTER NOW for “Making Fairy Furniture” on Sept. 4
REGISTER NOW for “Fairy Gardens” on Oct. 2
REGISTER NOW for “Build a Fairy House” on Nov. 6


Regular Monthly Programs

Babes in the Woods
Let our naturalist introduce the sights and sounds of nature. Take a sensory walk on our kid friendly trails and listen for frog calls, feel animal furs, or look at bright colorful feathers. There are lots of interesting ways to discover nature together. Ages 4 and under. Third Saturdays from 9 – 10am. $5 per parent child pair.
Register Now: Sept. 17 | Oct. 15 | Nov. 19

Nature Pals
In this parent and child program explore our world through stories, songs, and games. Live animals will be introduced according to the monthly theme. Ages 2 – 3. Third Tuesdays from 10 – 10:45am. $8 per parent child pair.
Register Now: Sept. 20 | Oct. 18 | Nov. 15 | Dec. 20

I LOVE Nature
You are invited to investigate a different nature theme each month! Each session is unique and incorporates games, songs, stories and a craft. Enjoy this time with your child and see the natural world through their eyes. Ages 3 – 5. $8 per parent child pair.

1st Wednesdays 10:00 – 11:00am
Register Now: Sept. 7 | Oct. 5 | Nov. 2 | Dec. 7

3rd Sundays 1:00 – 2:30pm
Register Now: Sept. 18 | Oct. 16 | Nov. 20 | Dec. 18

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