Jan Ellen Ferrigan


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Looking for a Dog-Friendly Home for Your Dog to Stay in While You are Away? Try DogVacay.

DogVacay matches dog owners with great dog sitters. We’ve used DogVacay several times for our dog and signed up to be hosts about a month ago – so far all of us are loving it – especially Nina our nine-year-old daughter and Ariel our dog.

See our page and save $10 off any first booking when you sign up using this link – dogvacay.com/pro/fetchandstay

 

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Backyard Box Turtle

ImageWe found this Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) in our yard about a week ago. I created a record for our sighting on the Virginia Herpetological Society’s site.

We have seen this box turtle before, which isn’t surprising because box turtles typically have a home range of 230 m (according to the National Zoo factsheet on Box Turtle). Some other interesting facts: They are omnivorous and eat a varied diet of plants, bugs and small animals. Box Turtles don’t get big, but they can live to be 100 years. We think our box turtle is a girl because she had brownish eyes, instead of the red or orangish eyes of a male, and a flat plastron (bottom part of shell). We hope that we see this girl  in our yard for the next 100 years or so.

Box Turtle Reporting Virginia


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Have You Seen Play Again?

I saw Play Again yesterday evening at a screening organized by a local high school student who is completing a senior project focused on getting kids outside (see a news story about her impressive project here).

If you haven’t heard of it, Play Again is a documentary that came out in 2010. After winning numerous film festival awards, the screenings are still going strong. The film follows six typical teenagers that attend a no tech wilderness camp. All the teens have average to extreme addictions to video games, social media and/or texting.  Scenes from the camp are interspersed with comments from experts on child development and the influence of too much screen time or too little outdoor time. As with all good documentaries, the most telling moments are those that are presented without commentary, allowing the audience to make connections by themselves. In particular, the facial expressions of the kids, especially two of the boys who played a lot of video games before the camp, were happier, less stressed and less tired-looking once they spent time at the camp. That is a subjective observation, but it was pretty apparent and amazing.

The only thing about the film, that I would have liked to see done differently is the ending. After the camp, the kids are asked to attempt “screen time fasts” to see how long they could go without any time on computers, phones or watching TV. Some gave up right away. Others lasted several days, but it was clearly hard.  I felt the fast idea emphasized the negative denial aspect of turning off technology, instead stressing the more positive and more likely to succeed long-term idea of challenging the kids to find creative ways to commit to inserting other activities into their lives.  Some did find more time to get outside or participate in activities that got them away from screens. Notes on what the kids did after the wilderness experience are in the final moments of the film.

The screening I attended was followed by a panel discussion led by local experts. Really interesting and well done. Ironically, watching all that nature time on the screen was refreshing and made me want to go camping. Have you seen Play Again? What did you think?