Upcoming Events

Thu Apr 24
Spring Exploration Series
Wed Apr 30
Spring Exploration Series
Thu May 01
Spring Exploration Series
Tue May 06 @ 6:00PM - 08:00PM
Green Film Series: Local Action
Wed May 07
Spring Exploration Series
A Celebration of Trees: Arbor Day PDF Print E-mail

When you think of the state of Nebraska, trees aren’t exactly what first pops into your mind; but surprisingly enough, Nebraska is the founder and home of the national holiday of Arbor Day, a day devoted to the planting and celebration of trees. It all started with a man named J. Sterling Morton (1832 - 1902) who was serving as the secretary of the Nebraska Territory in the 1870’s. Morton deeply valued trees and strongly encouraged tree planting in order to protect the soil from erosion, to use as building material and fuel, and to provide protection from the hot sun. On January 4, 1872, Morton proposed a tree-planting holiday to be held on April 10 of that same year where he offered prizes to the person or group who planted the most trees. Arbor Day was proclaimed an official Nebraska state holiday in 1874. In 1885, Arbor Day became a legal holiday and thousands of people, including over 1,000 school children, came out to celebrate and plant trees.

The Facts Behind Earth Day PDF Print E-mail

Earth Day may seem like a peaceful holiday where we clean up our environment and celebrate the natural beauty of the planet, but that hasn’t always been the case. The first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, was dreamed up by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, to raise awareness about air and water pollution and force the issue of environmental degradation onto the national political agenda. Nelson and his staff organized rallies, protests, and demonstrations across the country in what he defined as a coast-to-coast “national teach-in on the environment,” ultimately involving 20 million Americans. The support generated by the first Earth Day inspired the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Earth Day 1990 went global to tackle another big issue, worldwide recycling efforts and sustainability. This event mobilized 200 million people in 141 countries and brought environmental issues to the world stage, leading to the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In 2000, Earth Day organizers focused on global climate change and a push for clean energy.

Not So Tasty After All! PDF Print E-mail

Michael Pollan's first food rule is simple: “Eat Food”, which he considers to be a far different thing than what he calls edible food-like substances. Prepared foods contain dizzying lists of Frankenstein products and chemical additives that no one would ever have in their pantry or throw into homemade brownies. Many of these food-like substances are bad for our health, bad for our planet, and they are everywhere. At the top of the list is palm oil, which is present in half of the packaged foods sold in the U.S. from cereals to cookies to granola bars to candy bars to chewing gum. Palm oil zoomed to top ingredient status after consumers shied away from foods containing trans-fats. Substituting for those hated hydrogenated vegetable oils (or trans-fats), palm oil earned manufacturers a coveted “No Trans Fats” announcement on the package front. In fact, palm oil contains highly saturated fats that raise blood cholesterol.

Made Only in the Shade PDF Print E-mail

Bite by bite and sip by sip, we make food decisions every day that not only affect our bodies, but our local economy, the ecology of the place where the food was grown, and global commerce. One of the worst and most common consumables is conventionally grown coffee. Coffee plants naturally grow in the shade of the rainforest, but as demand for coffee skyrocketed, coffee farmers began to grow coffee in full sunlight. Rainforests were cleared for more coffee fields, wiping out bird species that had once provided insect control and pollination. These fields now favor the seed and grain eating birds that have become crop pests. Coffee requires heavy applications of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers to grow in this unnatural sunny situation. From an environmental standpoint, it is crucial that we buy only shade-grown, organic coffee

Make Like a Mouse! PDF Print E-mail

Does snuggling save energy? Yes! There are several key factors affecting how quickly animals, including humans, lose energy to the air.  One is the quality of your boundary layer – the thickness and texture of our fur, feathers – or down coat. Another key element is the steepness of the gradient between your internal temperature and the surrounding air temperature. If you are a chickadee, and your internal temperature is 105°F, and the air temperature is -20°F, your energy will exit very quickly.

Kleptothermy is the biological term for thermoregulation by huddling, and it addresses the last key variable – surface area.

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