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NicNats - Getting the environmental program outdoors

2012-2013 Officers

Ansel Bubel, Jen Santoro, Katie Glodzik, Ben Carlson, Anne Stein, Yang Liu

Faculty Advisor: Jennifer Swenson

Description and Mission

The mission of the NicNats (or Nicholas Naturalists) is to increase Nicholas School student interaction with the outdoors. The club aims to do this through two main focus areas: academic and adventure. The academic arm of the NicNats is a way to informally build natural history and identification skills of the students. Activities usually revolve around walking or hiking with an eye towards identifying the wildlife or vegetation that is seen. Specifically, some trips will focus on herpetology, vegetation, insects, mushrooms, birding etc. The adventure arm of the NicNats aims to be like an outings club. The group will plan a few larger outings throughout the year (such as hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting etc.). Additionally, the club will help others plan trips of their own, get suggestions on areas to go, things to do, people to go with etc.

Main Activities

Academic/Natural History: 2 or more trips a month will be planned. These activities will largely be on Fridays through the weekends. However, depending on the type of activity, they may last most of a day or occur during lunch, in the early morning or at other times of day. Volunteers are in charge of different sections of activities. The activities will cycle through the different topical areas such that each area will only organize an activity every 2 months or so. The different topical areas include:

 - Birding, Geology, Herpetology, Insects, Vegetation, Mushrooms, Edible Plants, Mammals (including night hikes, scat/tracks), Marine, Orienteering. 

Adventure/Outings: NicNats will lead and (hopefully) subsidize a several-day trip over fall break, spring break or other break.  The destination can be decided upon by the interested members but suggestions include: whitewater rafting, kayaking in the Everglades, and hiking in Great Smoky National Park. Other trips will be spearheaded by other individuals with the NicNats acting in a support role.

Other: The NicNats mission and function are constantly evolving. Other ideas have been proposed and will be worked out during the year as per the enthusiasm of the members. Some activities include:

 - Movie nights (e.g. Planet Earth), environmental education (partnerships with local public schools and youth programs), programs through the Duke Gardens, volunteer/form connections with local land trusts and nature writing/photography.

Calendar of events will be posted here and on the Nickipedia calendar (in progress)

Volunteers are still needed to organize activities. You do not need to be an expert in the activity, just need to have an interest in it, we will help you find the appropriate person to lead the activity. 

Equipment: We own a few field books and binoculars, and are hoping to get a bit more equipment in the future. Other suggestions are useful; but we expect to build up our library and equipment over time. Other things we will have to borrow.

Links: Other similar or relevant organizations exist on campus:

- Duke Natural History Society: an active group for the greater Duke community with about a dozen field trips a year looking for everything from mosses to trees, butterflies to birds. Subscribe to the email list to receive trip notices - there are no dues or meetings.

- Duke Student Association of Wetland Scientists (SAWS) : a student-run organization dedicated to wetland ecology, restoration, and conservation. Activities include field trips, seminars, and volunteer event.

- Duke Outings Club: The Outings club is a fantastic resource. They plan many great trips throughout the year.

- Duke Gardens: The Gardens has many great events throughout the semester as well as volunteer opportunities. Click on the link to explore their calendar.

- Schoolhouse of Wonder: This nonprofit is more tailored to schoolgroups, but still has many interesting programs and events.

- North Carolina Botanical Garden: The UNC Botanical Garden has a new "green" educational building. Check out the trails and events there. Don't forget about Mason Farm!

- Jeff Pippen's nature pages: This website run by our own Jeff Pippen has an incredible amount of information and pictures.

- Eno River Association: We can thank the Association for keeping natural areas such a short distance away from campus; great trails and some volunteering opportunities.

- Don't forget City and State Parks.

Thanks for your interest! See you in the field. 


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