Posted in animal mascots, animals, Arts, bird mascots, conservation, ecology, education, educational mascots, Entertainment, Exercise, learning, livestreams, Mammals, Multimedia, nature, nature conservation, Nonprofit Groups, Raptor Research, Rochester, NY Events, talking mascots, teaching, virtual learning, wildlife, wildlife education

Virtual Learning in a Socially Distanced World

ROC Animal School’s virtual learning initiative.

Obviously, we took the spread of Covid-19 very seriously. As schools, businesses and events closed or cancelled, we knew this would be a new and stressful experience for everyone all over the country. We anticipated that the programs we had scheduled would be postponed or cancelled, and to top it off, my two day jobs shut down.

In an effort to make use of being stuck at home and to continue our efforts to educate, we took to launching livestreams on our Facebook page. It was my hope that these would entertain folks at home with their kids and ultimately make the situation a little more bearable.

I put together a simple set made up of various display boards and set up my camera on a chair. My goal at the beginning was to do at least four videos a week but as my fiance was diagnosed with cancer and started undergoing treatment, the videos became less frequent.

The format did prove to be successful, however. The streams were reaching a lot more people than I had imagined. Our local audience was growing larger.

Many other organizations had also turned to livestreams to reach out to their audiences. I tuned in to dozens of these, including some from wolf sanctuaries, bird of prey research groups and some stream focusing on science and literature.

ROC Animal School will be returning to the Pittsford Village Community Farmers Market on July 11th. The market will be held once again behind the Community Center. We will be practicing social distancing, but, we will be running activities and selling wildlife oriented products alongside our partners, Impact Earth. We do plan on continuing our virtual learning programs, so please stay tuned to our Facebook page for more information.

Posted in Animal Ancestors, Animal Descendants, animal games, Animal Kingdom, animal mascots, animals, Arts, biodiversity, children's books, Community Events, ecology, education, educational mascots, Herbivore, learning, Mammals, mascots, mythical creatures, National Unicorn Day, nature, Rochester, NY Events, storytelling, summer camps, talking mascots, unicorns, Wild Animals, wildlife, wildlife education

Unicorns! Were They Real?

Dazzle the Unicorn from a ROC Animal School livestream: April, 2020

National Unicorn Day was on April 9th, 2020 (although some sources say it also falls on July 16th). Here at ROC Animal School, we did a livestream all about it on our Facebook page. This blog post is long overdue.

So, were unicorns ever real? Sort of.

Many mythical creatures have some basis in fact. Oftentimes, it can be because of an otherwise normal animal having a genetic abnormality or defect. For example, let’s look at the “uni-deer,” or sometimes called the unicorn deer. This is a white tailed deer that has its antlers grow twisted around each other into a single horn. This can be caused from an injury in the area where the antlers grow.

Source: the Guardian

Unicorns appear in myths and legends in numerous cultures from around the world. Interestingly enough, they weren’t always depicted as magical or friendly creatures. In some stories, they were huge, ferocious and scary. Only the bravest of warriors could kill them.

What might have been the inspiration for a scary unicorn? Well, in ancient Siberia, there was a creature that had one horn. Now extinct, this was known as the Elasmotherium. It is a distant cousin to the present day rhino.

Elasmotherium

And while that creature doesn’t look too much like the unicorns we see in cartoons, movies or as toys today, we can kind of see where the idea came from.

So, regarding National Unicorn Day… how does one celebrate it? There are several ways you, your friends and family can get in on the fun. You can bake unicorn themed cakes or cookies. Watch a favorite or new unicorn film or show. Play some unicorn games. Make some artwork or write a unicorn story. Do you have any favorite unicorn books? Give yourself a unicorn themed name. The possibilities are endless! But of course, have mythical amounts of fun!

Posted in Adaptation, Animal Adaptations, animal behavior, animal facts, animal games, Animal Kingdom, animal mascots, animals, biodiversity, children's books, Community Events, conservation, ecology, education, educational mascots, Entertainment, environment, Mammals, mascots, National Skunk Day, nature, nature camp, nature conservation, Omnivore, Predator, Prey, skunks, summer camps, talking mascots, teaching

Skunks! ROC Animal School’s New Skunk Program!

Stripes the Skunk teaches a family about life as a skunk.

On June 15th, 2019, we debuted our skunk character, Stripes, at the Pittsford Village Community Farmers Market. We celebrated National Skunk Day by hosting a variety of skunk themed activities aimed at educating patrons about this mysterious but smelly creature. Our friends from the Rochester March for Science were on hand as well with scent sensory activities. The day was a roaring success!

After the day was done, I shelved the skunk costume, planning on making some modifications to the suit and refining a draft of the skunk program as a whole. But, the summer season had other plans. I found myself busier than ever with summer camp programs and writing educational animal themed children’s books.

As February of 2020 rolled in, I began work on the skunk suit. I was able to finish the majority of the modifications in a few weeks and shortly thereafter, I focused on revising the program material. I was able to test run everything at the Genesee Country Village and Museum on Sunday, Marth 8th as part of their Nature Sundays series.

The skunk display as set up by our friends at the Genesee Country Village and Museum.

Skunks are actually quite fascinating creatures. Once you realize that spraying is usually a last resort in self defense against would-be predators, they become a lot less maligned. Skunks help keep pesky grubs and wasps at bay. Sure, you may have a few holes here and there in your yard from their quest for food, but, they are efficient and highly effective.

I think what surprised me the most was their poor eyesight. Skunks really can only see things extremely close by. If it’s any further than ten feet away, chances are they won’t see it very well at all. To demonstrate this, I built a set of “skunk vision goggles,” complete with a little skunk nose. Folks can try these on and experience how skunks really can’t see. It changes their perspective on them!

This program is listed on our official roster. It is best suited for smaller audiences as this mask isn’t perfect for dicrion and projecting my voice. The age group is generally for families with kids aged 5 to 10.