Throughout the weeks of Project Wild America, the crew members are introduced to many new and exciting things in the community. Many of these plants and animals have always been here, but not many people know their official names and purposes. Here are a few of these species!
Sarah Quadt: PWA has broadened my horizons and sparked my awareness of so many species around me that I would have never known about otherwise. Two species that have stuck out to me the most are the invasive Purple Loosestrife, and its native lookalike, the Blue Vervain. Previously, I simply thought of these plants as “pretty flowers”. I had no idea that the Purple Loosestrife was actually harming our local environment, and did not attempt to distinguish at all between the two plants. Both are aesthetically pleasing to look at, but that does not mean they are good! That was an important realization for me. I also enjoyed learning how to distinguish between invasive and native lookalikes, and continue to keep an eye out for differences that set the species apart. I love being conscious of the difference between invasive and native. I now know how important it is to distinguish between the two when examining species in our environment.
Abbi Warner: Throughout this program, I’ve noticed so many different things. It surprises me on how much I’ve taken in already. But most of all I didn’t notice how many dragonflies were around in the Jamestown Western NY area. My favorite dragonfly are pawn tawks. The vibrant blue-green color is just so beautiful you would think they’re from the tropics. While we were catching them we took videos of how fast their wings flutter and it amazed by that in slow-mo the wing speed was still really fast.
Jasmine Buffone: Through the PWA youth ambassadors program I have learned many new things. Mainly I’ve been noticing the invasive species that are in Jamestown. Such as honeysuckle which I see at many public parks and other places. I feel that it is important to recognize these invasive plants that disrupt our environment; furthermore, contributing to finding solutions to these problems could help our community grow and flourish.
Anna Burt: Over the course of this last week I have encountered many invasive species that I have never noticed before. One of the invasives that stuck out the most was Phragmites. This plant is named using its scientific name, that’s why it sounds a little silly. Never before had I noticed these tall grasses growing along the side of the road. I always just saw them as tall weeds, nothing special. After a week of being taught about invasives I could point Phragmites out in a heartbeat.
Makenna Graham: Along the Chadakoin Riverwalk, you can usually see many types of wildlife. My favorite to spot is the Spiny Softshell Turtle. I never knew they were in this area before, but since this program, I always notice them. We have a small population of these turtles in our area, and PWA is trying to keep an eye on them. These turtles are peculiar little creatures that you can usually see laying on rocks on sunny days. They have flat, oval shaped shells and pointed faces. Ever since I learned about them, I always make it a point to search along the riverbank for them when I am near the river.
Leanna Stratton: One thing that I have learned through this program that I didn’t know before was about the sycamore tree. The sycamore tree has camouflage for the trunk and that makes it very easy to identify. You can see them all around Jamestown like down by the Chinese restaurant across from Friendly’s. Sycamores branch out all over and make a kind of arch in some places. They can grow 75 to 90 feet and arch out 50 to 70 feet sometimes. They are a very unique tree and I love to look around when I’m driving and try to spot them.