Programs for Environmental Awareness & Cultural Exchange: P.E.A.C.E Michael J. Caduto Natural History and Environmental Programs

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This section is organized according to audience levels as follows:

  • Programs for Children, Families and the General Public immediately follows
  • Click here to jump down to programs for Adults and Young Adults



The Loon's Necklace -- An Experience of the Common Loon

Listen to a Tsimshian story from Alaska about how a loon restores a blind man's sight and is rewarded with the gift of its beautiful necklace. Through this Native American story, guided imagery, a detailed slide show featuring loon calls, and the "Loon Tune" accompanied by guitar, this program explores the natural history of the Common Loon, the myths surrounding this mysterious bird, the reasons for the tenuous status of loon populations in Vermont and New Hampshire today, and specific actions that people can take to assure the survival of the Common Loon. Participants create their own "loon's necklace" of string and beads to symbolize their relationship with this remarkable bird.

A 1 1/4-hour program for families, general audiences and naturalists.

"Excellent, humorous, gets kids involved."
Teacher, Warren Elementary School, Warren, Vermont
"Great! I probably can't do justice to how well Michael did.   Excellent techniques to keep the children's attention.   The added touch of giving each person string and beads to wear is an example of Michael's sensitivity.   They loved his stories both young and old!"
Teacher, Jonathan Daniels School, Keene, New Hampshire

"Excellent program."
"Very good rapport with the audience."
"Kept audience active and engaged."
"Please repeat during the summer!"

Participants, Maine Audubon Society Sunday Events
"He has a great sense of how to captivate an audience."
Teacher, Wallingford Elementary School, Vermont


Minibeasts of the Stream (Live Animals!)

From mayflies and stoneflies to whirligig beetles and the 2-1/2 inch toe-biter, streams and rivers are alive with insects and other animals whose ancestors have survived millions of years. How have these creatures adapted to life in a flowing, wet world? To find the answers, in this program we'll turn someone from the audience into an aquatic insect. We'll also look at slides and project live insects magnified on a screen. As the program begins, we all work together to create a rainstorm indoors and share a local Abenaki story about the origins of aquatic life. Offered from May 1st through September 30th.

"Excellent, humorous, gets kids involved."
- Teacher, Warren Elementary School, Warren, Vermont
"Very enthusiastic in his quiet way. Involved the audience throughout the program. Gave just enough information-not too much. The slides were excellent. Everyone especially enjoyed making a student into a water insect."
- Teacher, Union Memorial School, Colchester, Vermont

"Excellent. Michael took the time following the program to go to our stream with one of the classes to show them how to find creatures under the rocks."

- Teacher, Stamford Community School, Stamford, Vermont
"Excellent! Mr. Caduto had a very considerate, patient, attitude toward the students and he had an exciting presentation. The students' feedback since the program has been very positive-lots of visitors from the ponds."
- Teacher, Summit Street School, Essex Junction, Vermont


Teeth and Talons, Feathers and Fur: Wildlife Survival Adaptations

During this program children will turn into a bird, a fox, and a mouse; walk like a deer; hunt and be hunted; learn how to survive without thumbs or eyesight; discover what it would be like to run out of food in the middle of winter; and learn how the color of an animal can be a matter of life and death. This program explores wildlife survival and adaptations through games, fantasy, simulations, stories, discussion, and sensory awareness activities. It is one of the childrens' favorites!

A 1-1/2 hour program for children and families (group size limit: 20) Best when given from spring through fall when the group can remain comfortable outdoors for the entire program.


Bird Watching for Beginners

What is as big as a robin, arrives in early spring, lives in the wetlands and sings "Oh-kah-LEE, Oh-kah-LEE"? This field trip & nature walk cover the basics of watching birds and identifying our common avian neighbors, such as size, shape, habitat, songs, feather colors and patterns, flight patterns, behaviors, nesting, beaks, feet and other traits. We'll start by sharing a Native story or two about birds and will also focus on appreciating their many gifts. The field excursion will be accompanied by a healthy dose of humor as well as some general natural history and folklore.


The Children Who Plant Trees

How did Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, turn into a tree whose fruit was picked and eaten? How does a tree grow? What are the many gifts that trees give to people and how do they clean up the environment? This unique program uses slides, parts of trees, posters and folk tales to teach all about trees-their structure, growth, and their values for people and the rest of the ecosystem. We'll demonstrate by turning someone from the group into a tree. In conclusion, everyone helps to plant a tree on the learning center grounds to show our appreciation for what the trees give to us.

A 1-1/2 hour program (1 hour indoors and 1/2 hour outside to plant the tree) for children (maximum 50) and families.


Diving Into the Pond and Brook

Water and the life that it harbors are like a magnet for curious minds. From lily pads to pond muds, and from still pools to the rolling ripples of the stream, we'll visit an aquatic environment near the school or nature center and explore the boundless variety of life found there. For an introduction we'll have a puppet show, a brief slide show and then make our own aquatic creature! ( field trip/workshop )

A 1 to 2 hour program for children (maximum 20; larger numbers are possible with adequate supervision), families, and general audiences.


The Nature of Bogs: Where Time Stands Still

Begin with the "bog fantasy" and travel through time from the top of a glacier 18,000 years ago into the present time as the bog forms beneath you. Meet Peater Pitcher Plant (a puppet) and look at the 2,000 year old Bog Man, who still has a 5 o'clock shadow! Play "carnivorous charades" and walk where the quaking sphagnum peat floats on water. Through these activities and more this workshop introduces the fascinating and bizarre world of the bog and the incredible survival adaptations of the plants and animals living there, including insect-eating pitcher plants and sundews. Survival in the extreme conditions of the bog is something to be ad-'mired'. Learn what makes a bog a bog, and how to capture bog methane to create a torch. This workshop is a lot of pun, and you'll come away from it wanting "moor."

A 3 hour workshop (group size limit: 20)

"I would love to take a group of children to a bog -- a fantastic discovery area."
"I loved it! Michael's knowledge and manner was riveting, and although I don't share a passion for bogs, I really learned alot and now can appreciate them."
- Teacher Workshop Participant, New London, New Hampshire


Ring Around Polaris: The Circumpolar Constellations*

Listen, beneath a star spangled sky, to an Anishinabe (Chippewa or Ojibway) Indian story of how fisher and Wolverine chewed a hole in Sky Land to bring the warm seasons to the Earth below, and how Fisher became the Big Dipper. This program explores the myths and legends of the 5 circumpolar constellations-those which circle around Polaris, the North Star: Big Dipper (in Ursa Major), Little Dipper (Ursa Minor), Cassiopeia the queen, Cepheus the king, and Draco the dragon. We will cover basic astronomy and share an activity in which people represent the heavenly bodies to demonstrate some major references in the solar system and Milky Way. We will also see planets, look for shooting stars and satellites, and listen for the creatures of the dark. The night skies are full of wonder, awe, and mystery.

A 1-1/2 hour program for families and general audiences (group size limit: 35)

* Offered in conjunction with the Vermont Institute of Natural Science when presented in Vermont.

Michael J. Caduto  Natural History and Environmental Programs

For Adults and Young Adults


These participatory programs offer an entertaining natural history experience presented with slides, folklore, guided imagery and field trips. They help audiences to understand, appreciate and care for the Earth and the plants and animals with whom we share this planet.


Diving Into the Pond and Brook

Water and the life that it harbors are like a magnet for curious minds. From lily pads to pond muds, and from still pools to the rolling ripples of the stream, we'll visit an aquatic environment near the school or nature center and explore the boundless variety of life found there. For an introduction we'll share a Native American story such as "Koluscap and the Water Monster" and "The Hero Twins and the Swallower of Clouds." Then we'll have a puppet show, a brief slide show and then make our own aquatic creature! ( field trip/workshop )


The Nature of Fresh Water

Water inspires artist and poet. It sustains all living things. This program looks at water as a habitat for aquatic plants and animals using slides, discussion, activities and outdoor studies. We will look at the properties of fresh water, conditions for life in freshwater environments, the survival adaptations and interrelationships of aquatic life as well as the self-sustaining nature of aquatic cycles. There will also be a special visit from some aquatic creatures.

Available in a 2 hour indoor version, or a 3-hour version which includes an enjoyable and informative visit to a pond or lake, a brook or river, for some firsthand explorations.


Fiddleheads, Lamb's Quarters, Nettles and Nuts: Wild Edible, Medicinal, and Poisonous Plants.

Can someone really become immune to poison ivy after drinking milk produced by a goat that has eaten that plant? What did young Quaker women use for rouge when their parents forbade them from wearing makeup? Which has more vitamin C-a glass of orange juice or a glass of pine needle tea? On this walk we'll share Colonial and Native American folklore and information to learn about the myths and realities concerning the use of wild edible, medicinal, and poisonous plants. We will also sample many of these delectable treats. If Socrates had attended this workshop he may have realized that you can drink tea made from the boiled needles of the hemlock tree, but not from the small herbaceous plant called poison hemlock.

A 1 hour walk, including stories and sampling plants in the field (group size limit: 35).

Can also be conducted as a 2 hour program including collecting wild edibles, preparing samples, and demonstrating cooking techniques (group size limit: 25).


Sex and the Single Maple: Our Blooming Trees and Shrubs

How did the pussy willow get its puffs? Why do beautiful apple blossoms form fruit containing seeds with a trace of cyanide? Most of our flowering woody plants bear beautiful and inconspicuous blooms that often go unnoticed. From the delicate, crimson petals of hazelnut to the snow-white blooms of wild cherry, this program uses slides and stories to present the flowers and intriguing means of pollination of some common trees and shrubs.

A 1 hour program for general audiences, wildflower enthusiasts, garden clubs, and naturalists.

"The slides you presented were excellent and I learned a great deal about what to look for in the spring."
- Program Director, Montshire Museum of Science


Introduction to Orienteering

Do you get disoriented when finding your way around unfamiliar territory? Do you think "declination" means someone has just turned down an offer for a dinner engagement? During this workshop you will learn the parts of the compass and play a game to learn how to read and follow compass bearings. Topographic maps and their symbols are introduced as well as simple methods for taking and following compass bearings. The workshop is completed once everyone has followed a mapped course and located field markers that have been carefully placed in the surrounding area. By the end of this program you will be able to find your way around field and forest along an orienteering course by using map and compass.

A 5 hour workshop that is best when run from mid-morning to mid-afternoon with a break for lunch. (group size limit: 18)


Fall Foliage & Folklore Ramble

The leaves are ablaze with the beautiful colors of fall, and alive with many stories to tell. A foliage ramble enriches your leaf-peaking experience with a guided nature walk. Learn how and why the leaves change color. Experience a wealth of stories from Native American and Colonial history while exploring the wonders of the autumn forest, including bird watching and a look at wild edible, medicinal, and poisonous plants.

A half-day guided walk planned to be as rigorous or easy going as you desire. (group size limit: 20 people)