10/10/16

Peaceful Frogs Podcast: Yoga, Art and Nature Classes for Kids

Jamie Wilson-Murray, creator of Mindful Play Yoga, a Jersey City Heights business, and Susan Newman, founder of Frogs Are Green, a New Jersey nonprofit environmental organization, have teamed up to provide children ages 3-6 and 4-12 with Peaceful Frogs classes that include yoga, environmental study, and art education in Hudson County.

Peaceful Frogs (yoga) at Little Bee Learning Studio in Hoboken, NJ.

Peaceful Frogs (yoga) at Little Bee Learning Studio in Hoboken, NJ.

Artistic activity and physical exercise create healthy lifelong learners. Studies show how children benefit from creative activity and movement on a regular basis. Benefits from taking a Peaceful Frogs class include:

  • Body awareness and focus
  • Awareness of breath
  • Increased strength and flexibility
  • Increased creative expression
  • Connection to the environment
  • Confidence and self-esteem
  • Flow, connection and integration
  • Tuning in to oneself, not to an electronic device
  • Deep relaxation
  • Playful learning

 

Learn more about our series by listening to our 30 minute podcast:

>> Peaceful Frogs Podcast <<

Peaceful Frogs (art) at Little Bee Learning Studio in Hoboken with children ages 3-6.

Peaceful Frogs (art) at Little Bee Learning Studio in Hoboken with children ages 3-6.

 

08/24/16

Frog Facts Everyone Should Know

There is one fact that must be featured first:

One third of all amphibians are threatened with extinction.

(It is because of this fact that we will continue to reach people through education and engagement every day. Be kind and share with others.)

 

(Rheobatrachus silus). Photo by: unknown author. Wikipedia.

Southern Gastric-brooding Frog (Rheobatrachus silus). Photo by: unknown author. Wikipedia.

Frogs have been on the Earth for over 200 million years, at least as long as the dinosaurs.

Toads are frogs, but frogs are not toads. Frogs live near ponds, swamps and marshes. Frogs can live on the ground or in trees, but toads live only on the ground. Some frogs live in deserts and only come to the surface during the rainy season and breed in shallow vernal pools and puddles that dry quickly.

Frogs usually have webbed hind feet, and some have webbed front feet. Some frogs, such as tree frogs, have pads on their toes that help frogs climb trees, or even stick to a glass window.

The largest frog is the African Goliath Frog. One of the smallest is smaller than a dime, the Paedophryne amauensis, which was recently discovered on the island of Papua New Guinea.

There are over 6,000 species of frogs worldwide. They exist on all continents except Antarctica.

Some frogs are poisonous and one drop from this type (such as a Dart frog) could kill a human. You’ll notice these frogs by their bright colors.

Frogs have big, bulging eyes, excellent night vision and can see almost 360 degrees around. They do not have the ability to turn their heads. They also use their eyes to help them swallow food by pushing their eyes down.

Frogs are cold-blooded, meaning their body temperatures change with the temperature of their surroundings. When it gets cold, some frogs dig burrows underground or in the mud at the bottom of ponds and hibernate until spring. Hibernation has a summer equivalent called “aestivation.”

Many frogs have incredible camouflage techniques: muddy brown in color or spotty bumpy skin to make them look like moss, leaves, and even trees.

Male frogs call to attract the females. Some frogs have vocal sacs, some do not—pouches of skin that fill with air like balloons. The balloon acts as an amplifier and some frog sounds can be heard from a mile away.

During mating season, the male frogs in a group will croak quite loudly to attract females. When a female finds a male croak she likes, the male will grab her and she will release eggs for him to fertilize.

Frogs will eat any living thing that will fit in its mouth. This includes bugs, spiders, worms, slugs, larvae and even small fish.

To catch prey, the frog’s sticky tongue darts out and pulls the prey into its mouth. A frog’s tongue can snap back into its mouth within 15/100ths of a second.

Some species of tadpoles will swim together in schools like fish for protection from predators and for heat regulation during cold late winter and spring weather.

Frogs can hear both in the air and below water. Instead of the external ear like we have, their external ear is called the “tympanum.” The eardrums are covered by a layer of skin and are the circular area just behind the eyes.

The bromeliad tree frog (Bromeliohyla bromeliacia) is found in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and southern Mexico. These frogs lay their eggs inside bromeliads or other water-filled spaces in the canopy of trees so the tadpoles can develop. They live their lives in the canopy.

There are approximately 300 species of frogs in Madagascar. There are no toads, salamanders or newts.

The flying frog has brilliant colors, long limbs and its fingers and toes are webbed, giving it the ability to glide or parachute to the forest floor from high in the trees (like flying!)

Frogs have eyes with an upper and lower lid and a membrane which provides extra protection while swimming. Depending on the frog, their irises can range in color and the pupils from horizontal or vertical to triangular and circular.

Some frogs that live in colder regions can survive being frozen. Their essential organs are protected by a high concentration of glucose. Once spring arrives and the temperature warms, the frog’s heart starts beating, and the frog thaws out and hops off.

Male frogs call for females and there are certain types of female frogs that reply. Each frog species has a different sound, some high and some low. Frogs also have different calls for an unreceptive female, an approaching rain storm, or in the case of danger.

One third to possibly one half of all amphibians are threatened with extinction. In response, the global conservation community has formulated the “Amphibian Conservation Action Plan.” Select species that would otherwise go extinct will be maintained in captivity until such time as they can be released back in the wild.

Frogs have weak teeth so they do not chew their food. Instead they are used to hold the food before it is swallowed. They catch flies or other moving prey by extending their coiled tongue. Some frogs do not have a tongue, and just stuff food in their mouths with their hands.

Most frogs start out as eggs and soon emerge as tadpoles. At the end of the tadpole stage, the frog undergoes an amazing metamorphosis. The frog develops lungs and their gills disappear. Their legs begin to grow as the tail recedes. The nervous system adapts for hearing and stereoscopic vision. It’s during this transformation that frogs are most vulnerable because of their lack of motion. ** However, some frogs skip the tadpole stage! Eleutherodactylis planistris, the greenhouse frog, for example, lay their eggs on land, the eggs then hatch out fully developed young frogs.

The gastric-brooding frogs, or platypus frogs (now extinct in the wild), were native to Queensland in eastern Australia. These frogs were unique because they were one of two known species that incubated the prejuvenile stages of their offspring in the stomach of the mother.

Animals that eat frogs include snakes, lizards, birds, shrews, raccoons, foxes, otters, weasels and larger frogs. Underwater frogs must watch out for fish, turtles and water birds. In addition, in many places around the world, there are humans who eat frogs.

Some species of frogs are capable of changing their skin color as their environment changes. Frogs have a huge range of skin colors and patterns, which indeed help protect them from their natural predators. Colors can also aid as a warning to predators that the frog may be toxic.

The glass frog’s general background coloration is primarily lime green but the abdominal skin of some is translucent so we can see the heart, liver and gastrointestinal tract through the skin.

Some tadpoles are herbivorous, feeding on algae and plants, some are omnivorous and some are even cannibals. Adult frogs eat their fair share of mosquitos, which keeps them away from us and our overall environment healthier.

Frogs have graced the pages of literature in such works as, Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel and as “Mr. Toad” in The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham. There’s also the most famous frog from TV, Kermit the Frog from Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.

 

07/17/16

City of Water Day in Hoboken

Yesterday was the City of Water Day all around New York and Hoboken, New Jersey. Frogs Are Green was invited to participate so we could share our educational materials and inspire children to draw frogs. (Frogs love water, you know.)

As you can see from this little gallery, we had children visit our tent all day and we watched people go out in kayaks, enjoying the water on such a hot day.

Across from us in the other tents, we saw face-painting and other creative activities for kids One was the Celebrate Life Studio who also encouraged children and adults to dance. Next to us the Hudson County Improvement Authority gave away coloring books along with crayons made from soybeans and other recycled items, such as reusable bags.

We want to thank the Waterfront Alliance for a well-organized event full of bonuses, like giving us free lunch, plenty of water and thanks, Ben & Jerry’s, for the free ice cream too!

Child drawing frogs under the Frogs Are Green tent at The City of Water event in Hoboken.

Child drawing frogs under the Frogs Are Green tent at The City of Water event in Hoboken.

City of Water event draws parents and children and Frogs Are Green inspires drawing.

The City of Water event in Hoboken draws parents and children and Frogs Are Green inspires drawing.

Kayaks out in Hoboken, NJ all day long!

Kayaks out in Hoboken, NJ all day long!

Kids love to draw and we encourage them to care about frogs too!
Children busy drawing with crayons, colored pencils and markers.

Children busy drawing with crayons, colored pencils and markers.

Celebrate Life Studio had children's activities including dance!

Celebrate Life Studio had children's activities including dance!

Frogs Are Green loves it when children are into drawing frogs!

Frogs Are Green loves it when children are into drawing frogs!

Frogs, Trees and scenic drawings at the City of Water event in Hoboken, NJ.

Frogs, Trees and scenic drawings at the City of Water event in Hoboken, NJ.

Frogs Are Green's table with books, Tshirts, promotional materials and space for children to draw.

Frogs Are Green's table with books, Tshirts, promotional materials and space for children to draw. (Thanks, Mark for your support!)

Frogs Are Green Tshirts and promotional materials for our forthcoming poetry book and coloring books.

Frogs Are Green Tshirts and promotional materials for our forthcoming poetry book and coloring books.

Hoboken's Maxwell Pier for The City of Water event hosted by the Waterfront Alliance.

Hoboken's Maxwell Pier for The City of Water event hosted by the Waterfront Alliance. (Thank you!)

New York Times article about The City of Water event and Frogs Are Green is mentioned!

New York Times article about The City of Water event and Frogs Are Green is mentioned! Woot!

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06/29/16

Junior Herpetologist of the Year Sarah Brabec

Frogs Are Green is proud to repost this wonderful article sent to us by Lisa and Sarah Brabec. We couldn’t agree more and look forward to hearing from Sarah when she’s closer to us on the East coast!

By Anna Spoerre
Journal Star reporter

BRIMFIELD — To Sarah Brabec, herpetology is more than just the study of reptiles and amphibians, it’s a lifestyle.

On a recent day, the 90-degree weather didn’t seem to bother Brabec, 14, as she waded barefoot through a creek at Jubilee College State Park, a small green net in hand. Two large tadpoles resurfaced with the mesh — an exciting catch for the Junior Herpetologist of the Year at the 2016 International Herpetological Symposium.

“(Herpetology) is more than just a hobby,” Brabec said. “It’s a passion … something I want to spend my life doing.”

Brabec is presenting at the 39th annual International Herpetological Symposium that began Wednesday and runs through Saturday in St. Louis. There, she joins experts in discussions and programs about the scaly, cold-blooded creatures.

Sarah Brebac

“It’s just amazing how much she’s been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time,” said Jill Wallace, an environmental educator at Sugar Grove Nature Center in McLean, where Brabec likes to visit with her family.

When she was 6, Brabec joined the Central Illinois Herpetological Society. During her time there she’s presented in front of hundreds of people and helped to start a junior program within the society, said Doug Holmes, president of the society.

She said last year’s international conference in Austin, Texas — which she participated in as a runner-up — taught her that herpetology is about more than saving frogs. It’s about helping to promote public interest, she said, which falls in line with increasingly popular education-based global sustainability practices.

“The key need in conservation success is education of younger kids,” Brabec said.

Sarah Brebac examines amphibian

She began teaching children to conserve and save animals in Peoria, going into classrooms and talking to grade-schoolers about reptiles. Sometimes she brings her favorite creatures along to engage the students.

“You can hold frogs in your hands,” Brabec said. “Kids can really connect to that.”

She would know. Brabec’s mother, Lisa Brabec, said she started chasing reptiles when she was 4, always returning home with a new animal hidden behind her back.

“When they find their passion, feed it,” said Lisa Brabec, who often takes her daughter exploring at nearby creeks and ponds.

When asked about some of the more interesting moments that come with having a house full of reptiles and amphibians, she said with a chuckle, “my Mother’s Day gift went missing one year.”

Sixth months later they found the runaway snake hiding between their kitchen cabinets. Despite this, Lisa Brabec said she’s grown fonder of all slimy, slithery creatures her daughter introduces to the family.

“My parents are troopers,” the younger Brabec said with a smile.

Last year, Sarah Brabec even began writing a children’s book with a local herpetologist. But, the project has been put on hold.

“I learned that all it takes for kids is adults who think they’re capable,” Lisa Brabec said.

Though Sarah Brabec said she doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do in the future, she said saving wildlife is crucial, and she wants to continue playing a role in that endeavor.

In the meantime, she and her family are preparing to move to Atlanta later this summer, where Sarah Brabec said she’s excited to find eastern narrow mouth toads.

“You can just tell some kids are really hooked,” Holmes said. “I think eventually she’ll make a career out of it.”

Anna Spoerre can be reached at 686-3296 and aspoerre@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/annaspoerre.

05/18/16

City of Trees: Shop Window Painting on Central Avenue

The Jersey City Parks Coalition, Frogs Are Green, Jersey City Board of Education and the Central Avenue Special Improvement District invite you to take a stroll down Central Avenue on May 26th, 2016 as 110 Jersey City students paint their vision of “City of Trees” on storefront windows. Each student will have a designated boxed space on a shop window in which to replicate their sketch. The artwork should remain up for a few weeks, so all can see and be inspired to learn more.

A few weeks ago Jersey City students answered the call to participate in the “City of Trees” initiative and over 110 students from 10 different schools submitted their artworks which are currently in an online gallery. Now we’re taking those visions to the Jersey City Heights community.

https://www.flickr.com/groups/2947219@N22/

We wish to thank Ann Marley, District Supervisor, Art Programs, Jersey City and the Jersey City Board of Education’s students for participating.

https://www.facebook.com/events/467752383415317/ 

Martina Gebrail of PS 23, Jersey City

City of Trees artwork by Martina Gebrail of PS 23, 8th Grade, Jersey City

After the success of last Fall’s Halloween window painting event by the CASID, which brought out over 100 students and Central Avenue businesses embraced, we’re bringing this outdoor window painting back for an important environmental cause.

******

A bit of history that inspired this project:

Did you know that the Jersey City tree canopy is at severely low levels?

The City of Trees initiative is our response to the tree canopy study conducted by the Jersey City Environmental Commission, which found that the JC tree canopy is currently at 17%. (The national average is 40% for a mid-sized city.)

City of Trees - logo design by Susan Newman for Jersey City Parks Coalition

City of Trees – logo design by Susan Newman for Jersey City Parks Coalition

The City of Trees initiative promotes healthy trees by educating residents and increasing their role in the care of the City’s trees. Through training workshops, volunteers can become part of our citywide “Tree Lovers Crew” (TLC) and share the responsibility to plant and care for trees in their neighborhoods. Since 2005, the Parks Coalition has empowered residents and volunteers to get involved in greening projects, resulting in healthier and more sustainable communities throughout the City. Beginning with three member parks, the Jersey City Parks Coalition has grown to more than 20 community and parks groups that maintain, beautify and organize programs and activities for their parks and surrounding neighborhoods. The coalition believes in protecting and increasing the care for our precious open spaces. “There is no better tool to bring about change in your neighborhoods than through parks and green initiatives. We’ve learned this over and over again. Our parks are at the center of change.” says Mory Thomas, Vice President of the JCPC.

05/5/16

7 Garden Maintenance Tips in Autumn

watering garden

As Autumn approaches in Melbourne, many householders are starting to prepare their gardens for the colder months and taking care of the little jobs that may have passed them by. The season plays an important role in how well your plants, trees and foliage will do during the winter time, so with 7 simple preparation tips, you can have a clean, lush and bumper garden before the cold weather kicks in.

1. Have a good clear out of your garden

racking leaves in garden

One of the best ways to prepare your garden for Autumn is to clean your garden of any leaves or tree branches that may have built up over the last few months. Autumn is a great time to start to clear out the main base of your garden, allowing you to see and tend to flowers of shrubs in the winter. If you have lots of items to remove, why not start your garden waste removal with the help of a skip bin hire company to handle the majority of the heavy lifting.

2. Maintain your lawn
mowing the lawn

Lawn and garden maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult, as with the right tools and the right approach you can enjoy a lush and green garden all year round. Instead of waiting until the grass is a little too long, why not get the mower out and keep it at the height you best prefer. That way the grass will be at full health and you will minimise the risk of seeing bald patches as the old grass is left covering the newer turf.

3. Clean up your borders

trimming hedges and bushes

Tidying up your borders is a great way to have your garden looking fresh and in top shape. Clear out any foliage that shouldn’t be there and inspect the soil accordingly. If you have any plants that you feel are poorly placed, autumn is the perfect time to get in there and replant them. If any perennials have faded slightly, cut them back to around 5cm to provide them the best health over the coming months.

4. Start your compost harvest

composting

If you have any deciduous trees that are in or overhang your garden, don’t worry about all of the leaves that have fallen and start a leaf mould to add to your compost. The leaves make amazing quality compost in a year or two, so store away all you can and you will have your very own compost to recycle in your garden.

5. The best time to plant evergreen

planting evergreen

Autumn is the best time to plant evergreen varieties due to the soil being still warm and with ever so slightly cooler weather. This greenery makes up the backbone of any quality garden, providing the green backdrop that many gardeners aim for. Plant your evergreen varieties in a way that brings bulk to your shrub borders and adds colour and depth to your main focal point plants.

6. Lift out timid species before the frost
lift out fragile plants in autumn

Autumn is the time when you will need to lift out your most fragile plants such as Dahlias or Begonias and place them into storage in a cool and dry place. Use sand or compost to keep them healthy and ensure that you replant them when spring arrives the coming year. Ensure they are fully covered with just the crowns visible to keep them healthy and happy.

7. Take care of your gardening tools

take care of gardening tools

Autumn is a great time of the year to ensure your gardening equipment is well maintained and in good working order. If you need to purchase replacement tools, check out your local garden hardware store to see if they have anything new and exciting in stock. Oil and clean any motorised equipment you might have, and get yourself ready for the busier months to come!

If you feel that gardening in Autumn is a little too much to handle all by yourself, why not hire a garden waste removal company that allows you to clear out your garden of foliage, branches, cut grass and soil and create for yourself a fresh and bright new garden. Simply have the skip bin delivered at a time of your choosing, fill it up and call for removal for a weekends work, your garden can get a full makeover.