During the first snowfall of the season, kids are especially excited to go outside and play in the snow. During the first snowfall in October, an eight year old made a shocking discovery when he went outside of her home to play.
Snow in mid October in Trondheim, Norway, is not an unusual occurrence. In fact, it snows quite a bit there and since the first snow had fallen, children started going outside to begin the tradition of building snowmen and partaking in snowball fights.
After a day of playing in the snow with his friends, an eight year old was headed home. It was cold and he was trying to warm up his hands that were wet from playing in the snow all day long. When he walked by the local football field, he saw something sticking out of the snow. It turned out to be a local girl named Silje Redergard, who was five years old. She was half covered by the snow and mostly naked.
The boy recognizing the girl and ran to tell her parents what he had discovered. They didn’t believe him, but followed him back to the scene. The police had now cordoned off the area and no one could get through in order to see what was happening. Due to the state of the young girl, her parents were then driven to the police station for questioning. Police had to rule them out as suspects since suspicion in a case like this usually will fall on close family members.
The parents were ruled out as suspects, but who committed the crime? The parents could not get the image out of their head. The mother, Breathe, had heard that a neighbor had tried to resuscitate the little girl before the police had arrived. She went over to thank her for trying to save her daughter. In a shocking twist of fate, it turns out Breathe was actually about to meet her daughter’s killer.
The woman who tried to save Silje had done so because she said it was her young son that had killed her. The young boy said that he had thought Silje was sleeping and had jumped on her. He had also removed her clothes because he thought she was sleeping.
The police later revealed that Silje had gone out to play with two local boys that she had played with before. Even though the children had all played together before, something happened with the boys and they kicked, punched and threw stones at Silje where she was then left to freeze in the snow. The boys were too young to prosecute and no one has been able to figure out what lead the boys to start beating Silje in the first place. They believe the attack escalated by them beating her until she stopped crying. Some believe the boys were imitating the show Power Rangers when they began attacking. Despite her grief for losing her daughter Breathe does feel bad for the boys, since they were just young kids.
The Man With the Fish Tank Idea
Some teachers just do the basics. They teach from books, provide visuals, use a computer and meet the minimum requirements for their classes. The kids produce the same; they regurgitate the terms, memorize the rules, and spit out the formulas. But other teachers go the extra mile and incorporate experience into the classroom. And when that happens, their students embrace their learning far more, and go much farther on average in life as a result. That’s the case with James Jubran.
James Jubran is a teacher at Alief Elsik High School in Texas. And where he’s located, there’s not a lot of water nearby. In fact, the school has no exposure to lakes, rivers or even the ocean within short distance. So, all the biology context James wanted to provide was only going to be possible through books and concepts; he had no real outdoor example to draw upon for reinforcing lessons.
For a teacher who grew up in Florida surrounded by coastline and water, Texas was an opposite shock at first. Not only was the distance to water a geographic barrier, James’ high school didn’t have the money for field trips or travel substitutes. So, rather than giving up or struggling on pennies, James started using his other skill, writing. He began applying for education grants. In 2016, James submitted his first major grant proposal to State Farm Insurance through the company’s Neighborhood Assist Program. The request was straightforward; James wanted to build a sizable aquarium so that his students to realize in person the magic of aquatic biology in their classroom.
James had a lot of competition. He was able to make the first cut being part of the first 2,000 proposals accepted for review. Above that, folks were rejected by the first cut. Then, the second wave cut the review down to 10 percent, or 200 proposals. From there one needed to make the top 40 proposals to receive substantial funding of $25,000 each. James achieved an almost impossible grant achievement. His proposal scored rank 8. The funds suddenly made a crazy idea a real possibility for his classroom.
Even with the grant funds, James still pulled in more help and resources. It took a number of months to finish the construction as well. Once completed, the classroom aquarium measured 9 feet tall by 12 feet long and a yard wide. It contains a whopping 1,100 gallons of water, and each gallon weight at least 8 lbs. in weight. James also added some amazing touches to the actual ecosystem built. The tank was planned out to be a tropical environment, becoming home to an amazing array of tropical fish. And it was a process to complete the collection as well. Fish were added slowly to help the tank system adapt to so many residents as well as to prevent the fish from fighting with each other. By the time the tank was complete, 14 different types of fish were moving around inside it.
There were some adjustments as well. Given the size of the tank, it was going to be far too big for a single classroom, and James wanted all the students to enjoy the aquatic biology exposure. So, it was relocated to the cafeteria during construction due to more space and a better educational benefit. Where’s the proof it works? Believe it or not, the one effect James isn’t fond of is the objective metric showing how amazingly educational the tank is – all the fingerprints from the kids getting up close to look and learn.
Is James done? Of course not. Now he’s aiming to achieve a $100,000 second grant so the school can have a larger saltwater tank in another part of the school. The idea makes sense, it provides a tangible educational effect, and the companies providing the grants see real results. So, there’s a very good chance James’ school tank idea can work again. More importantly, James’ initiative shows how powerful just one person’s effort can be in educational change. What could happen with multiple people working towards the same goal? It’s worth asking at every school who wants to do more for its students.
This Brave House Cat Fought An Entire Pack Of Coyotes and Emerged Unharmed
We love cats- and for good reason. While they may appear soft, cuddly, and aloof- they can actually be incredibly loyal- and fiercely protective. Enter, Gabby- a seven-year-old tabby living on a farm with her family in North Dakota.
Last summer, the Hartkin Farm had a bit of a coyote problem. The wild animals are very intelligent, and while a few would occasionally trigger a trap and be eliminated from the pack- many more were ravaging the domestic chicken population in and around the farm. The Hartkins are known for treating their chickens very well, and rewarding them well for the high-quality brown eggs they produce. But the coyotes were decimating the chicken population in brutal fashion.
The family decided to buy dogs to protect the chickens. But the size of the coyote population had skyrocketed unexpectedly, and the new guard dogs were no match for the sheer number of coyotes that would arrive each night to plunder the chickens.
One fateful night, the Hartkin family dog, Busker, managed to joint the guardian dogs and attempted to aid in their efforts to thwart the coyote’s next raiding party. But Busker is a 10-year-old Labrador and a lifelong friend to Gabby. When Gabby saw her best friend going out to what would probably have been his last night on Earth- she managed to escape the house as well. Gabby tailed Busker and the protector dogs and watched as the hounds made contact with a pack of wild coyotes.
As usual, a number of guardian dogs were killed and injured. Chickens were shredded and dragged away into the darkness. Farmer Hartkin fired his rifle into the pack and managed to kill a handful of coyotes. But more arrived still and overwhelmed the farm’s defenses, as usual.
But Gabby was only concerned about one thing- her best friend, Busker.
Gabby stayed out of the fray until Busker was ganged up on by three large coyotes. One of the wild dogs took Busker by the hind leg, breaking his leg in two places. Then the other two began closing in. But that, according to farmer Hartkin, triggered Gabby into action. “Gabby jumped on the coyote that had Busker by the leg. She tore into his face ferociously, doing a terrible number on its eyes. Then she started in to the other two. That cat thrashed them something good. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Gabby emerged from the battle completely unhurt- but quite shaken at the sorry condition of Busker. As it turns out, her passion for defending her friend combined with her superior agility made her more than a match for three aggressive, and possibly rabid, wild dogs.
At the time of this writing, Busker has recovered from his injuries and has retired to the life of a house dog. But he and Gabby are closer than ever. They sleep together every night at the foot of the Hartkin’s bed, and they never leave each other’s sight.
It’s a heartwarming tale of loyalty and bravery that few humans can match.
What to plant to attract beautiful avian wildlife to your yard
Probably the best way to draw beautiful wildlife to your yard is to plant flowers, bushes, and trees that are useful to birds. Birds can use your landscaping features for both food and shelter. Creating an ideal wildlife for birds in your yard is an especially good idea these days because wildlife has lost a lot of natural habitat due to development and construction in areas all across the country.
If you want to learn all about how to attract birds, one great source of information is the website for the Audubon Society. On the website, you can use your zip code to get tips on attracting wildlife that are specific to the geographic region and climate that you live in. The Audubon Society site will provide you with a list of plants that are both pretty and non-invasive. These plants will make it so that your landscaping benefits avian wildlife in your locality.
The Audubon Society has taken the initiative to offer this great service on its site because a lot of wildlife species are struggling to maintain their populations. According to John Rowden of the Audubon Society, many bird species are struggling.
The following are a few tips the Audubon Society gives on its site. These tips can help individuals living in several different parts of the country to support local wildlife with the plants they grow in their yard.
If you’d like to attract hummingbirds to your home in particular, you can use windowsill planters. By planting bluebell-of-Scotland in your window planters, you could succeed in attracting hummingbirds from far-flung locations.
Passionflowers are beautiful purple flowers that are great for those residing in the Austin area or in other areas of Texas. The passionflower doesn’t just look great, but it is also effective at attracting cardinals to a home.
American Holly Berries
If you like large flowering plants, you can plant American holly berries in your Pennsylvania yard to bring mockingbirds to the area.
Residents of the Midwest can grow plum trees. These trees are known for bringing finches to homes located in the suburbs of Chicago.
The honeysuckle is a striking orange flower. In areas of the Pacific Northwest, these flowers are effective at bringing waxwings around.
If your home is located in a dessert area like in Nevada, consider growing golden currant in your windowsill. These flowers are effective at attracting wrens.
It doesn’t cost a lot of money to buy seeds for most of these flowers and plant them around one’s home. In addition to providing information on what plants to grow in one’s home to attract birds, the Audubon site includes a database of local chapters. Homeowners can find the Audubon chapter for their area to learn more about taking care of both plant and birds in one’s yard.
Finding the right plants for your yard on the Audubon website gives you a fun project to embrace nature around your home and improve the ecosystem in your area.
Caring for Baby Sloths So They Can Be Free
Why do we love sloths so much? It is completely unexplainable, but there is something so endearing about these cute, friendly creatures that live in South and Central America. They have made their way into our hearts and into our homes via several recent popular movies, but their real lives aren’t always as fun.
Orphans Need Extra Help
Like other kinds of animals, including humans, very young sloths don’t have the ability to care for themselves without help. There are places like The Sloth Institute, located in Costa Rica, which has 3 goals:
- to research sloths in captivity and the wild, including recently released sloths, and to share that information with other scientists around the world;
- to take the information gathered and share it in an attempt to help educate others about sloths; and
- to engage in conservation efforts that will help to minimize the effects of humans on sloth habitats.
As part of those efforts, workers at the Institute take in baby sloths who can’t care for themselves and help them learn how to be wild sloths.
Caring for Baby Sloths
The work is rewarding because the sloths are in need of help and the workers can clearly see the results in the lives they save. There is still a lot of mystery about sloths, though, as even scientists don’t know a lot about important things like social constructs and instinctual abilities of sloths. When they are orphaned, rescuers have to figure all that out to make sure they can take care of themselves around other sloths later. One really cute habit sloths have is clinging to almost anything, whether it be a tree, a person, or another sloth. This is actually important behavior that helps them to survive infancy.
Sam Trull is the co-founder of The Sloth Institute Costa Rica and she says that sloths don’t like being held in captivity, and she says they also don’t match the stereotype of being slow or lazy. She first came in contact with sloths when working for another rescue, and she voluntarily took on the role of surrogate mother for a recently orphaned two-week-old two-toed sloth named Kermie and fell in love with him. It took several months of care before he was ready to leave in what is called a “soft release.”
With a “soft release,” sloths get to take their time and decide when they finally want to leave for good. The sloths are put into a cage with the door open so they can come and go as they please.
Even after they decide to stay in the wild, the workers continue to keep track of them. Several are doing well, although some of the sloths they cared for died in captivity.
More On the Sloth Institute
Because it is not a sloth sanctuary, regular members of the public are not allowed to visit with the sloths at the Sloth Institute. The Institute strives to help the creatures as much as possible as far as getting comfortable again in the wild, so the sloths they help get as little human interaction as possible. However, the work done at the Institute will hopefully benefit not just the orphans they bring in but other places in the world that have vulnerable sloths that may need care.
Acknowledgement of a Dream Fulfilled from a Young Child
Very few people voluntarily choose to leave their home country. Many leave because the opportunity they need to live and thrive exists somewhere else. And even those who do leave by choice, still find it extremely challenging to go to a new place with a new language among everything else that changes. However, when the Penas had to leave, the word hard didn’t come close to the challenges they faced making a new life in a foreign place. The worst part of it was never really knowing at the time if there was ever going to be chance to go back to Guatemala again in the future.
Juan and Kathy received a chance to transfer to the U.S. in the mid-2000s based on Juan’s studies. Everything was leveraged and sold so he could cover the cost of the tuition and make his big opportunity a reality. That was after packing everything up, selling anything of value, and leaving every part of family behind in their homeland.
To make matters even more challenging, Juan and Kathy were trying to have a family as well and the odds weren’t in their favor. Juan had a medical issue that made it practically impossible for him to impregnate Kathy; he was functionally sterile. Yet, just like the surprise of the education opportunity, they were also surprised when Kathy did indeed get pregnant. They weren’t out of the woods though.
Juan had to finish school, and Kathy Pena was facing a very high-risk pregnancy. Based on multiple doctors’ recommendations and directions, Kathy found herself bed-ridden to keep her growing unborn baby alive and healthy. In the meantime, Juan struggle to finish his studies and take care of her simultaneously. It wasn’t turning into a very promising situation. But they kept pushing on anyways to make both dreams a reality. And they did just that; Kathy gave birth to a healthy baby, and Juan completed his studies successfully. The proof of all the hard work was in their daughter Elizabeth, breathing and growing healthy without any issues.
And then along came a second child, Joseph.
Both of the Penas continue to work and find ways to improve their family and life. Juan has a solid career in his field of study, and Kathy has found a second income stream for them with her creativity and crafting of party supplies. Interestingly enough, their daughter Elizabeth picked up on her mother’s talent and created a gift for them.
After doing a bit of work and putting things together, the little girl created her version of a Veterinarian college degree, what she wanted to be when she grew up. She gave it to her parents as a present. Kathy was amazed and proud of her daughter’s creativity so early in life, and Juan promised to keep it to bring it out again when his daughter really became a veterinarian graduate. But what really shocked them was what Elizabeth said as she handed them the gift; their daughter said she was proud of her parents because they work so hard for her every day. It’s as if someone was speaking through the child and acknowledging everything Juan and Kathy had done to achieve their family dream.
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