Mindful Mondays: Understanding and Expressing Emotions

Mindful Mondays: Understanding and Expressing Emotions

This activity is recommended for ages 3-7.

Happiness, fear, frustration… let’s get to know our emotions! Make your own paper plate emotion face and see how our faces help convey how we are feeling.

Supplies:

  • Paper plate 
  • Construction paper, all colors
  • 6 brass fasteners
  • Scissors 

Instructions:

  1. Take a paper plate to use as your face. Use the crayons to color the plate however you like!
  2. Using construction paper, cut out eyes, eyebrows, a nose and a mouth for your face. If you need a guide, use a pencil to draw the shapes before you cut them out.
  3. Use 6 brass fasteners to attach the facial features to your plate.
  4. Try it out! Move the facial features to create different emotions. Ask another per-son to guess what the face is expressing, or challenge another person to create that expression.

 

Each mind matters. Taking care of our mental health is important to all of us – everywhere and always. Learn more by visiting FCMoD’s special exhibition Mental Health: Mind Matters, open through January 10th.

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Mindful Mondays: Changing Minds

Post written by Brian Ferrans, Manager with Behavioral Health Strategy and Implementation Community Impact Team Health District of Northern Larimer County

Mindful Mondays: Changing Minds

Let’s talk about addiction. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. One in 10 of our neighbors lives with drug and/or alcohol addiction in Larimer County. It’s not a choice — it’s a disease that changes the brain, and it can happen to anyone. Understanding how substances re-wire our brains is essential in helping us to get rid of negative stigma and stereotypes about those experiencing an addiction, which can encourage more people to seek out treatment. Watch our 5-minute video to learn more about how addiction changes the brain.

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Mindful Mondays: The Best Life-Saving “Drug” I Found

Written by Carl Nassar, President of Heart Centered Counseling

Mindful Mondays: The Best Life-Saving “Drug” I Found

Therapy saved my life. That wouldn’t come as a surprise to you if video footage of my childhood was available for you to view.

The screen would zoom in on a boy whose constant companion was loneliness. A boy whose imaginary friend Bucky tried valiantly, but without success, to fill the relational void. You’d discover a boy attending a religious elementary school promoting the fear of God over the love of God, and a fear of the world rather than a love for it.

In therapy, I came to understand how my past was shaping my future (Freud called it “the transference of everyday life,” and Berne labeled it “replaying your life script”). I learned how my scared-ness was trampling over my vitality (Perlz called it the “dilemma of secondary Gestalts”). I learned what it looked like to open my heart, first to my own pain, as something to go through (and not around), and then to the world, as a way to lean in (instead of leaning out).

I loved therapy. It helped me to reclaim my excitement and energy for life. It also gave me my voice. That love grew into a professional desire to become a therapist myself. I wanted to help good people realize that they no longer needed to simply get by in this life, but rather to discover and learn to thrive. I wanted to help others work through the traumas (of childhood and later life) to become the people they’re meant to be—to find their voice in the world and to use it to express all of who they are, in its endless unfolding.

After 20 years in the field, I’m more convinced than ever that the popular song from 1965 speaks a profound truth, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love…” and, while not in the song, I might add a line about therapy being a beautiful way to discover that love within ourselves.

I’m more convinced now than ever that each of us can become the hope we long to see in the world. I believe this so much that I created a video series called “What if a Therapist Reported the News?” It’s my way of helping people break free from the paralysis of waiting for the news to change, and instead encouraging each one of us to find the courage—in how we live our everyday lives—to take the small steps that allow us to create the news we’re waiting for.

As we come to the end of our time together in this blog post, I want to share my gratitude for you…not only for taking the time to read this, but for each small act of courage—each small step toward kindness—you show in your everyday life. Because one final lesson therapy taught me was that each us matter far more than we image, and each small act adds up to create a new world, even if we don’t see its dawning quite yet.

Carl Nassar is known differently to different people. To some, he’s a professional counselor offering a safe space to reclaim hope and tenderness. To others he’s the president of Heart Centered Counseling, supporting a team of 250 providers that together provide access to a counseling and psychiatric care throughout Colorado (www.heartcenteredcounselors.com). And to those who find his YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW3MmwKez76a51rQRp17qwQ/), Carl offers a thoughtful and inspiring answer to the question What if a Therapist Reported the News?

 

To stay informed on the latest Mental Health: Mind Matters programs and experiences, visit the Mind Matters webpage and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Don’t forget to tag us in your experiences when you visit the museum to help us #MakeItOk. 

We look forward to welcoming you to FCMoD to experience this amazing exhibit!  

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Mindful Mondays: Local Mental Health Resources

Mindful Mondays: Local Mental Health Resources

The Mental Health: Mind Matters special exhibition opens the door to greater understanding, conversations, and empathy toward the challenges of mental health. It’s just one way our community can come together to reduce the stigma and #MakeItOK to talk about mental health.  

It’s okay to ask for help. There are many resources available here in our community to support you or anyone you know who might be struggling with their mental health. 

Experiencing a mental health crisis? 24/7/365 support is available through Colorado Crisis Services: Call1-800-493-TALK (8255) or text HOME to 741741. 

FCMoD is grateful to be working directly with these community partners on programming and community outreach: 

Alliance for Suicide Prevention – We prevent suicide in Larimer County through training and education, providing outreach, and offering support. 

Colorado State University – Child Trauma and Resilience Assessment Center – The Child Trauma and Resilience Assessment Center provides resilience-based trauma assessments and offers recommendations that focus on helping youth and families recognize, understand, and value their own strengths in responding to and healing from trauma. 

Early Childhood Council of Larimer County – Leap Coalition – Strengthening and connecting our systems so that all young children in Larimer County, Colorado will be supported in their social development and emotional wellbeing in a culturally responsive manner. 

Foundations Counseling – Foundations Counseling provides a proven, collaborative approach to counseling in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Windsor, Colorado. We offer caring, expert assistance in an environment built around personal respect and dignity. Throughout Northern Colorado our experienced therapists rely on time-tested and proven techniques to help you find your way.  

Health District of Northern Larimer County – The Health District of Northern Larimer County is a public agency that has been meeting local healthcare needs since 1960. Today, we provided residents of northern Larimer County with dental, mental health and preventive health services. The Connections program offers answers, offers and support to individuals and families looking for help with mental health or substance abuse concerns. CAYAC (Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Connections) is a service of Connections that helps young people (up to age 24) with the early identification, assessment/testing, and treatment of mental health and substance abuse concerns. Connections also offers regular classes and trainings to the public, often at no cost. 

Heart Centered Counseling – Heart Centered Counselors provides caring support for the people of Colorado. We counsel people to get them through the hard times, through the broken hearts, and through the painful emotions. We are a growing team of 200+ counselors who provide a comprehensive therapy practice. 

Larimer County Behavioral Health Services – Through a publicly approved .25% Sales and Use tax, Behavioral Health Services responsibly invests in community-driven work to increase access to behavioral health services and improves outcomes for all Larimer County residents. 

Music Minds Matter – We are committed to supporting the brain health and mental wellness of music communities everywhere. 

Poudre School District – Counseling Department – School counselors are vital members of every school’s education team. Currently, 80 professional school counselors serve students in 39 schools in Poudre School District, assisting kindergarten-12th grade students in academic success, college and career readiness, and social/emotional development. 

SummitStone Health Partners – For more than 60 years, SummitStone Health Partners has been transforming lives through recovery, renewal and respect by providing unsurpassed behavioral health prevention, intervention and treatment services in Larimer County. SummitStone provides more than 50 services dedicated to treating mental health and addiction disorders for people of all ages. 

Additional community resources highlighted within the exhibit or during programming: 

Carl Nassar, President of Heart Centered Counseling, reports on“What if a therapist reported the news?” 

Support for people experiencing homelessness is available through Homeward Alliance and the Murphy Center for Hope  

Healing and support for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color is being convened by the BIPOC Alliance 

CSU Center for Mindfulness 

Colorado Spirit COVID-19 Support Program – Larimer County

Colorado Spirit COVID-19 Support Program – Weld County

North Range Behavioral Health – At North Range Behavioral Health, we believe that everyone deserves high-quality treatment that leads to recovery. North Range Behavioral Health provides compassionate, comprehensive care for people who face mental health and addiction challenges. This organization is located in Weld County, and is also a provider of Colorado Crisis Services.

QPR Gatekeeper Training – The QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) mission is to reduce suicidal behaviors and save lives by providing innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention training. You can find local trainings on the website – SummitStone Health Partners provides monthly trainings that are also posted on the FCMoD calendar!

Colorado-National Collaborative for Suicide Prevention

Recordings of FCMoD’s Discovery Live mental health expert panels and events are available on YouTube 

We will continue adding resources to this post as they are shared by our community partners.

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Fort Collins Find & Seek: Halloween Edition

Post written by Linda Moore, Curator of Collections

Fort Collins Find & Seek: Halloween Edition

The Archives and Collections staff are here to wish you a Happy Halloween! This Halloween Edition of Historical Find and Seek uses spooky photographs from the Archive at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. Try to find all of the items in the photographs using the links to the Fort Collins History Connect Database!

First photograph: “Holloween [Halloween] Masks”

This photograph (T00558B) shows Halloween masks from “Life of the Party” in downtown Fort Collins.

  • 21 masks
  • 8 masks with hair
  • Can you find any masks that are not human faces?
  • 2 price tags hanging off masks

Second photograph: “Methodist Women’s Halloween Party”

This photograph (H08932) shows a Methodist Women’s Halloween Party.

  • 1 mask
  • 15 cat pins
  • 2 dolls
  • 2 teddy bears

Third photograph: “Halloween costumes”

The photograph (T01280) shows the staff at the Fort Collins City Clerk dressed up for Halloween.

  • Someone dressed as Abraham Lincoln
  • 2 people wearing glasses
  • A coffee mug
  • A typewriter
  • How many people in the photograph are wearing collared shirts?

 

This photograph (T02651) shows a “bewitching display” in Fort Collins

Looking for a handy way to print this activity? Download the PDF here!

Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!

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Your True Colors Suffragette Sash Project

Post written by Linda Moore, Curator of Collections

Sip and Stitch At-Home Edition: Your True Colors Suffragette Sash Project

Woman working to get the right to vote in the 19th and early 20th centuries faced a tricky problem: how could they influence the vote to get the vote without the vote? Savvy suffragettes recognized that optics matter, and set out to shape the images of their movement to convey its strength. At the same time, many activists felt they had to be careful to avoid any appearance that could be dismissed as emotionally unstable, hysterical, or even unwomanly.

The suffragette sash, which appeared first in Britain and was quickly adopted by the American suffragist movement, seemed to have walked that line, and stands out today as emblematic of the movement. Sashes bore the traditional colors of the American National Woman’s Party: purple for loyalty and unswerving steadfastness to a cause, white for purity, and gold as the color of light and life “as the torch that guides our purpose, pure and unswerving”.

Here is your chance to express you own “unswerving” devotion to the right to vote: use these instructions and your own creativity to create a sash you’ll be proud to wear!

Materials

To make stripes in the traditional white, purple, and gold you will need 2 strips of each that are the length you want your sash to stretch, from your shoulder across your body –from 34 to about 40 inches. If you are buying fabric by the yard, the most economical way to get that is to buy:

  • ¼ yard of each of the 3 colors

You’ll also need:

  • Thread
  • Sewing machine (or a good chunk of time for hand stitching)
  • An iron
  • Extra scraps of fabric and interfacing if you want to applique your message; you can also use embroidery, iron-on lettering, or fabric paint

 Instructions:

  1. Cut 2 2.5” wide strips of white fabric (or whatever you are using as the center band of your sash) and 2 3.5” wide strips of each of your colors.
  2. Putting the right sides of your fabrics together, sew one colored strip of fabric to each side of one white band, along the long edge, stitching ¼” from the edge. Repeat for the other set of strips. You should have 2 identical, long strips, with the white bands in the middle.
  3. Use an iron to press the seam allowance away from the center band.
  4. This is the point when you should add your message. I backed scraps of fabric with interfacing (to prevent raveling) and cut out letters with pinking shears; then stitched them on. Your message will be whatever you choose, of course –it’s your right! But if you use fabric paint be sure to put paper or cardboard under your fabric in case the paint bleeds through.
  5. Now you sew your 2 wide strips into 2 tubes: with right sides together, fold each strip in half long-ways, joining the edge of each color. Stitch the long edges together.
  6. Press your inside-out tubes flat so that one side has the white band in the center and a color on each side, and the other side has the 2 colors only. Sew the bottom short edges closed. Then turn both tubes right-side out and press again.
  7. Almost done! A fussy bit that will make your sash sit nicely on your shoulder is to cut the short edges that are still open at a slight angle, sloping down from the left corner to the right. Finish these cut edges with a zigzag stitch to prevent raveling. Now put the right sides (with the white bands together and sew these cut edges together. Flip them over and the seam should form a gentle point that will sit nicely on your right shoulder.
  8. Put on your sash and join the open ends at your hip –either by tying them together or by pinning them with an appropriate political button.
  9. Now you are ready to march!

(P.S. Don’t forget to vote before 7:00pm on November 3, 2020!)

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Mindful Mondays: Celebración del Día de Muertos

Post written by Katie Auman from Poudre River Public Library District, originally posted October 17, 2019.

Celebración y Ofrenda del Día de Muertos

“La cultura es lo que, en la muerte, continúa siendo la vida.”

El día de muertos es una celebración de México y Latinoamérica donde cada año las familias se reúnen el 1 y 2 de noviembre para honrar a sus ancestros y seres queridos. El origen de esta celebración data cientos de años atrás cuando los Aztecas celebraban rituales durante el verano dedicados a la muerte. Después de la colonización, las fechas de las festividades se cambiaron para coincidir con creencias post-colombinas como “la noche de todos los santos.”

Desde entonces, esta celebración ha sido acogida en diferentes partes del mundo y se centra en honrar, recordar y celebrar la vida de aquellos que ya han partido.

Ofrenda

La ofrenda o altar es un elemento fundamental en esta tradición, la cual es cuidadosamente creada en honor de los familiares o personajes ilustres fallecidos. Es importante señalar que cada familia o individuo crea una ofrenda que es personal, compleja y que utiliza detalles y elementos que tienen un gran significado. En la siguiente imagen encontrará un breve resumen de algunos de estos elementos y sus significados.

 

Altares en miniatura para niños y familias

Es fácil crear un altar en miniatura del Día de Muertos inspirado en los altares más grandes que verán en las celebraciones tradicionales. Con este proyecto de “hágalo usted mismo”, podrá construir un altar incorporando los elementos tradicionales de una ofrenda con su toque personal, pero en un espacio más pequeño como una caja de zapatos.

Material:

  • Caja de zapatos
  • Papel construcción o papel de envoltura para cubrir su caja
  • Marcadores, crayones o pintura
  • Tela
  • Tijeras
  • Pegamento, cinta adhesiva o engrapadora
  • Vela
  • Flores / Cempazuchitl
  • Papel Picado
  • Calaveras de Azúcar
  • Fotografía de su ser querido
  • Vaso con agua
  • Algo para comer
  • Objetos de especial interés para su ser querido

Si no tiene estos artículos, ¡deje volar su imaginación! Haga sus propias flores con papel y dibuje sus decoraciones.

Paso 1

Utilice tela, papel construcción, marcadores, etc. para decorar la caja de zapatos en colores como morado, rosa mexicano, naranja y rojo. Cubra el interior y el exterior de la caja de zapatos.

Paso 2

Coloque una foto del ser querido que está honrando en el centro de la caja. Llene la caja con artículos que le recuerden a esa persona. Cualquier elemento puede ser una ofrenda – fotos, objetos de especial interés de su ser querido, pertenencias, etc.

Paso 3

Decore los espacios vacíos de la caja y añada alimentos o dulces.

Paso 4

Decore la orilla de la caja con flores, velas, papel picado y un pequeño vaso de agua. Estos elementos representan los cuatro elementos: la tierra, el fuego, el viento y el agua.

 

 

Día de Muertos Celebration

“Culture is what, in death, continues to be life.”

The Day of the Dead / Día de Muertos is an annual Mexican and Latin American celebration when families gather to honor the memory of deceased loved ones on November 1 and 2. Scholars trace the origins of this celebration back hundreds of years to Aztec festivals held during the summer. After colonization, the festivities were shifted to coincide with “All Saint’s Eve.”

Since then, the festivity has been celebrated all over the world and centers on honoring, remembering, and celebrating the lives of those who have departed.

Traditional Altar Display

One of the most visual parts of the Día de Muertos tradition is the altar, a carefully crafted centerpiece of the annual celebration. Each family or individual’s Día de Muertos altar is a complex and personal creation with incredible symbolism as each element included carries specific meaning. Here are the most important elements, from flowers to food to fire, and what they mean.

 

DIY Shoebox Altar for Kids and Families

It’s easy to create a Día de Muertos miniature altar modeled after the larger altars you’ll see at traditional celebrations. You can still follow the requirements of an authentic altar and personalize it, but in a smaller space. This is a great DIY craft for kids!

What you’ll need:

  • A shoebox
  • Construction paper or wrapping paper to cover your box
  • Markers, crayons, or paint
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Glue, tape, or stapler
  • Candle
  • Flowers / Cempazuchitl
  • Tissue paper / Papel Picado
  • Sugar Skull / Calaveras de Azúcar
  • A photograph of your loved one
  • A small glass with something to drink
  • Something to eat
  • Offerings (items of particular interest to your loved one)

If you don’t have these items, feel free to think outside the box and get creative! Create orange marigold flowers/cempazuchitl flowers out of paper or cut out and color your own decorations.

Step 1

Use your fabric, construction paper, markers, etc. to decorate the shoebox in colors like purple, pink, orange, and red. Cover the inside and the outside of the shoebox.

Step 2

Place a photo of your loved one you are honoring in the center of the box. Fill the box with items that remind you of that person. Any item can be an ofrenda – photos, objects, anything.

Step 3

Fill the remaining space in the shoebox with décor and add other treats and foods.

Step 4

Surround the box with flowers, candles, tissue paper, and small glass of water. These items represent the four elements of earth, fire, wind, and water.

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Mindful Mondays: The Feelings Volcano

Mindful Mondays: The Feelings Volcano

This activity is recommended for ages 5-11.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by a strong emotion? Maybe you were angry with a friend for taking your favorite book, or frustrated that you couldn’t figure out that math problem? We all have strong feelings sometimes, and that’s okay! Try this is a twist on the classic baking soda-and-vinegar volcano experiment, and explore why it’s important to express and regulate our emotions in healthy ways!

Supplies:

  • Empty plastic bottle or 8 oz cup 
  • Measuring cup 
  • Funnel 
  • 1 tbsp baking soda 
  • Distilled white vinegar 
  • Food coloring (if desired) 

Instructions:

  1. To get ready: Place the baking soda in the empty plastic bottle or 8 oz cup using the funnel. 
  2. Think about a time when you were overwhelmed by a strong emotion (feeling sad, embarrassed, mad, nervous, etc.). Talk with your grown up about what happened. What happened to make you feel this way? What did you do about it?
  3. Pour a little bit of vinegar into the measuring cup. (Add food coloring if desired). This vinegar represents the feelings you had in your story. Now, let’s say that instead of expressing your feelings and doing something to manage them, you let them keep building and building and building up inside of you!
  4. Add more vinegar “feelings” to the cup until it reaches the ½ cup mark. What do you think will happen when you act on your feelings by adding the vinegar to the baking soda?
  5. Pour the vinegar into the baking soda. What happened? All of those sour feelings came out!
  6. Time for another experiment! What if instead of letting those sour feelings build up, you did something to manage them? Maybe you talked to your grown up about how you were feeling, or maybe you took some long, deep breaths! When you take steps to manage them, your feelings aren’t so sour anymore – they’re more like water than vinegar! What do you think will happen if you add water to baking soda?
  7. Pour the water into the baking soda. What happened? This time, we didn’t let our emotions get the best of us!
  8. There’s nothing wrong with having feelings! They’re part of being human. But it’s important that we learn how to express and manage our feelings so that we can control them instead of them controlling us. Work with your grown up to make a list of ways you can express and manage your emotions in hard situations, when you sense a feelings volcano brewing! Some ideas you might include: 
  • Take 10 slow, deep breaths. 
  • Draw or write about your feelings. 
  • Talk about your feelings with a friend, family member, or teacher. 
  • Dance to your favorite song.  
  • Stretch your body. 
  • Hang your strategies up somewhere to reference throughout the year! 

 

Each mind matters. Taking care of our mental health is important to all of us – everywhere and always. Learn more by visiting FCMoD’s special exhibition Mental Health: Mind Matters, open through January 10th.

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Mindful Mondays: Let’s Talk About It!

Mindful Mondays: Let’s Talk About It!

The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery (FCMoD) is honored to bring the groundbreaking traveling exhibition Mental Health: Mind Matters to our community from October 3, 2020- January 10, 2021. With the generous support of our community partners this exhibit and the museum are free during the run of this exhibit 

In the fall of 2018, FCMoD secured this exhibit knowing that mental health would be a timely topic for our community. And while this topic was important two years ago, the need for us as individuals, neighbors, parents, children, community members and community leaders to engage in conversation about mental health and mental illness has only grown.

Between the COVID-19 public health crisis, economic recession, wildfires, and unrest around racial justice, the year 2020 has given us all our share of challenges. Although uncertainty and difficulties still walk with us through this time, so do the threads of hope and greater resiliencyThis year, we found new ways to connect with one another, had opportunities to challenge assumptions and reframe narratives, and refocused areas in our lives that we find to be most important. This exhibit provides yet another opportunity to step into a conversation that touches all of our lives, in an environment that is safe, welcoming and hopeful. 
 

Mental Health: Mind Matters is an interactivetrilingual exhibit that provides experiences for visitors of all ages to help open the door for greater understanding, conversations and empathy toward the challenges of mental health. Walking through the exhibit you will have the opportunity to engage with empathy-building experience like hearing from people – in their own words – about how mental illness affects their lives. Interactives like noise-distorting headphones help visitors experience the difficulties some people have with symptoms of psychosis. Another interactive lets you dance around to learn about the connection between physical activity and mental wellnessTest your knowledge with a multi-player quiz about common misperceptions around mental illnesses and mental health. Anchored toward the back of the exhibit, you can check out a resource area that includes both children and adult activities, books and other helpful resources on mental health. Don’t forget to visit the Worry Shredder to shred your worries away! These are just some of the many incredible experiences in this remarkable exhibit. 
 

Working with our community partners, FCMoD will feature virtual and in-person programming throughout the dates of this exhibit. Forest therapy walks encourage participants to relax in nature. FCMoD’s virtual lecture series, Discovery Live, offers opportunities to hear from the mental health experts in our community and learn about the amazing work their organizations are doing. Programming in the museum’s gallery demonstrates different mindfulness techniques and relaxation activities. Visit fcmod.org to find the programs that resonate with you and learn how to take this conversation to the next level. 

As you consider visiting FCMoD, we want you to know about our deep commitment to keeping you safe during your visit. Gallery hosts regularly clean the museum throughout the day, with special attention to high-touch areas. All visitors over the age of two to are required to wear a face covering, and contact information will be requested at the beginning of the visit to help with contact tracingAlthough the museum is free through January 10, ticket reservations are required to help manage capacity and appropriate physical distancing. Groups 15 should contact the museum to reserve blocks of tickets. Ticketing information is available on the Plan Your Visit webpage. 

 

To stay informed on the latest Mental Health: Mind Matters programs and experiences, visit the Mind Matters webpage and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Don’t forget to tag us in your experiences when you visit the museum to help us #MakeItOk. 

We look forward to welcoming you to FCMoD to experience this amazing exhibit!  

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Daily Discovery: Endangered & Forgotten

Post written by Alexa Leinaweaver, Live Animal Husbandry Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Endangered & Forgotten

National Wildlife Day is September 4, 2020! To celebrate, let’s explore some of the less well known endangered species in Colorado.

We hear a lot about endangered species these days, as the climate changes around us and human activities challenge wildlife survival. Often the articles and advertisements you see feature fuzzy and adorable animals like the Giant Panda or the Sea Otter. Here in Colorado, our featured endangered wildlife tends to be appealingly majestic, like the Grey Wolf (whose reintroduction to Colorado is on November’s ballot for 2020) or even FCMOD’s beloved Black-footed Ferrets. These are species that definitely deserve attention – but there are many more of our wildlife neighbors that need our attention and help that may not be so cute or exciting. There are so many ignored species in the world that are in difficult or dangerous situations thanks to habitat loss, pollution, water loss, and many other human activities.

Here are just a few of our Colorado wildlife neighbors in need:

Least Tern (Sterna antillarum), Federally Endangered

The Least tern is the smallest member of the gull and tern family. They’re only 9 inches long. They nest in the summer on sandbars along major rivers in the central U.S., including in Colorado. This bird was listed as federally endangered in 1985. A lot of nesting habitat in the U.S. has been lost to the birds because of the ways that humans have changed the river systems: dams and reservoirs; introduction of invasive plants; stabilizing river banks, hydropower, and diverting water.

Bonytail Chub (Gila elegans), Federally Critically Endangered

The bonytail is a freshwater fish that lives in the Colorado River basin. It can grow up to 2 feet long and can live up to 50 years. It was added to the endangered list in 1980, and is now the rarest big-river fish in the Colorado. The bonytail, along with numerous other fish species in the Colorado, suffered drastic population declines after the construction of Hoover Dam and other human projects that divert water from the river and change how the water flowed and pooled. These fish also suffer from competition from non-native fish species that humans have introduced into bonytail habitat. At this time, there is no self-sustaining wild population of these fish, and human-run hatcheries are all that maintains the species.

North Park Phacelia (Phacelia formosula), Federally Endangered

The North Park Phacelia only exists in one place in the entire world: the North Park area in Jackson County. It likes to grow on bare slopes and eroding rocks in ravines in the North Park area, where few other plants are able to survive. This phacelia was listed as federally endangered in 1982. It is threatened by livestock, off-road vehicles, commercial and residential development, and petroleum exploration. It also suffers from the loss of pollinating insects in the area, which it depends on to reproduce.

You may be wondering what you can do to be a better neighbor to these species, and the other species in our beautiful state that are threatened or endangered. Here are some steps that you can try:

Educate yourself. Learn about the different kinds of wildlife that live in Colorado with us, and what kinds of things we humans are doing that are putting them at risk.

Take action. Think about how much water you use, or whether the plants in your yard are native or invasive. Consider how much energy you use leaving on lights in an empty room, or streaming your favorite songs rather than downloading them. Look at how much gas your vehicle uses, or how many plastics or other petroleum products you use on a daily basis. Even a small change you can make in your own behavior can be a help to our endangered neighbors.

Talk to your friends and family about why this wildlife is in danger, and why it’s important to you. Your friends and family care about your thoughts and opinions. Help them to understand how important it is to help all.

Contact your representatives in government. These threatened and endangered species do not have a voice in our government, but you do. If you are old enough, vote for candidates that pay attention to wildlife. But at any age, you can make your voice heard! Make sure that your representatives know how important it is that we are good neighbors to all the wildlife in Colorado, in the country, and in the world.

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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