Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 25, 2014

Halloween Hike

By Pamela Holz | Sep 21, 2012

It’s a dog eat dog world. Or so I have heard it said.

Yet, as I sit here looking at it in print, it really doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it? Dogs eat … dog food.

Okay, yes, dogs are carnivores and thus are suppose to be meat eaters, but that is not cannibalism. Unless they are strays or feral, most dogs are lucky (in their eyes) to be able to munch on a squirrel or bird. That’s not the same as eating your own kind. (Attacking another dog is a whole different story. That’s usually related to territory issues, not for nutrition, and they don’t eat each other in the process).

Now, spiders, on the other hand, usually have no trouble eating other spiders (“Spider eat spider world” just doesn’t have the same ring). Before there are enough workers, some ants will eat their unhatched sisters. Generally speaking, though, cannibalism is rare; it kind of defeats the whole idea of survival of a species.

Now, whether it’s other animals or plants, all animals must eat something, just usually not their own kind. The vast array of things eaten can be surprising and includes essentially anything and everything found in nature and even some man-made materials.

Food, or rather the food chain, is the theme of this year’s Halloween Hike. On the evening of Oct. 13, participants will enjoy a luminary-lit trail from the lodge to the center at Marr Park, learning about the food chain along the way.

We first must start with plants, however, as they are what gets the food chain rolling. With the challenges of the evening focusing on a kitchen metaphor, we will “cook” energy through photosynthesis. Plants use sunlight, soil, water and air to create the energy they need for their processes and that are used, in turn, by plant-eaters (or herbivores). Our energetic master chef will help you in this endeavor.

Moving down the trail, we’ll find Challenge No. 2: herbivore feeding stations. Plant-eaters are quite diverse as are the parts of the plants that are eaten. You’ll have to experiment to find which kitchen tool best represents the way herbivores eat certain foods. For example, drinking nectar requires a different method of eating than crunching on seeds.

Challenge No. 3 is the carnivore obstacle course. Featuring an oversized kitchen (naturally), you’ll have to find your way to your prey. Danger lurks, however, so watch out for the (gasp) fly swatter.

The last challenge has you weaving your way through a maze to find the human connection. As a reward for finding the way out, roast a marshmallow or two.

Afterward, come to the center where further refreshments await you. A couple of crafts will enable you to make a take-home connection to the evening.

Our Halloween Hike is designed as a not-so-scary alternative to traditional Halloween activities. Participants learn something about nature, have fun, and realize nature at night is not so frightening. The Trail is open from 6:45 to 8 p.m. with the Center activities lasting to 8:30 that night.

You can learn more about the Hike, or find ways to help, by contacting me at >wccbnaturalist@iowatelecom.net.<

 

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