Save Salamanders While Social Distancing | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Save Salamanders While Social Distancing 

NORTH BRANCH NATURE CENTER
  • North Branch Nature Center
On these wet spring nights, amphibians seek vernal pools to mate and lay eggs. But crossing roads is a dangerous business for hopping frogs and slithering salamanders. Volunteer “crossing guards” often spend evenings helping migrating critters to safety. Luckily for at-home families, saving our water-loving wildlife is a perfect social distancing activity. As an added bonus, it’s fun and educational.

Some families may simply want to explore on a spring night. For those families who want to collect and submit data about Vermont’s wildlife, as well, the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier has detailed information about how to get started.

Its website includes:
• A local map of amphibian crossing areas
• A volunteer manual
• Videos
• How to gather and submit data
• How to send in photos

Gear you need:
• Rain clothes and boots
• Reflective clothes, such as a vest
• Flashlights and extra batteries
• A spatula and a clean bucket
• Waterproof clipboard, data sheet and pencil
• Camera
• Crossing signs with flashing lights

click to enlarge salamander_sky.jpg
In 2018, Kids Vermont wrote about Middlesex writer and educator Katy Farber’s picture book, Salamander Spring. It combines science, simple directions and a sweet story about a mother and daughter who help spotted salamanders cross a dirt road. If your local bookstore is open, see if they have a copy.

Last spring, Heather Fitzgerald wrote an essay for Kids Vermont about“a particularly ungraceful April night” when she and her 5-year-old son went searching for frogs and salamanders. As parents in a rapidly changing world, we’re all redefining our roles right now. Fitzgerald’s story reminds us to embrace our kids' imagination — and let go of our desires for perfection.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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