RCAS Program Archives

2015-16 season

Oct.

Bats of Indiana: Purdue biologist Ryan Slack covered a variety of topics about bats: myths, specialized adaptations, anatomy and classification, habitats, conservation, White Nose Syndrome, bat calls, rabies, and the 12 bat species found in Indiana.

Nov.

Conservation awards program

Dec.

Bird research in southern Indiana: Jeff Riegel, field supervisor of the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE), spoke about current bird-related research being conducted by HEE in state forests near Bloomington.

Jan.

Puerto Rican Parrot: Ball State's Dr. Tom McConnell spoke about the critically endangered Puerto Rican Parrot, the many threats that these birds have faced (habitat loss, hunting, and the pet trade), and the ongoing efforts to conserve them.

Feb.

Indiana's invasive fish species: Members of the American Fisheries Society student chapter at Ball State University discussed invasive fish species and their impacts on aquatic ecosystems in Indiana, in contrast to the beneficial role played by native fish like the longnose dace.

Mar.

Indiana's nongame bird program: Allisyn Gillet, nongame bird biologist for the IDNR, talked about the state’s nongame bird program. She focused on several major conservation projects, including the Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon restorations and Interior Least Tern management.

Apr.

The Messenger: With support from local conservation groups, we showed a new documentary film, The Messenger, which addresses the many plights that songbirds face today, from window collisions and feral cats to illegal hunting.

May

Red-tail Land Conservancy: Barry Banks, founder and Executive Director of Red-tail Land Conservancy, spoke about Red-tail’s work in preserving, protecting, and restoring natural areas and farmland in East Central Indiana, as well as the organization's future.

June

RCAS Costa Rica adventure: In March, 16 RCAS members, led by Kamal Islam, explored the amazing biodiversity of Costa Rica, tallying 256 bird species, 21 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 11 mammal species. At our June meeting, Kamal shared highlights of the trip.

 

2014-15 season

Oct.

Showing of From Billions to None: The planet's last Passenger Pigeon died in 1914, despite having numbered in the billions just a few decades before. This film recreates the species' former glory and "the ruthless ways in which our 19th-century ancestors utterly destroyed them.”

Nov.

Joel Greenberg: In this special program at Minnetrista, Joel Greenberg, author of A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction, spoke about the pigeon's former abundance and ways in which hunters and trappers drove them to extinction in the late 1800s and early 1900s. (Conservation awards program followed later in the month.)

Dec.

Orchid varieties and cultivation: Using orchid specimens from hiw own collection, Russ Vernon (owner of New Vision Orchids) provided useful tips and tricks for successful cultivation of the plants.

Jan.

Bird-friendly plants: Endangered species biologist Dawn Slack spoke about the impacts of invasive plant species on Indiana birds and offered pointers on choosing wildlife-friendly plants for the yard.

Feb.

Mounds reservoir alternative: Tim Maloney, Senior Policy Director for the Hoosier Environmental Council, offered an alternative to the Mounds Reservoir: an environmentally-friendly greenway that would benefit both wildlife and the community.

Mar.

Saw-whet Owl banding: Alex Forsythe, one of the most active and passionate young birders in Indiana, discussed the Northern Saw-whet Owl banding program at Indiana Dunes State Park, where she volunteers.

Apr.

Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary research: Amy Wilms, a Resident Manager at Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary, spoke about some of the new and upcoming research being conducted at Mary Gray, including its hummingbird banding efforts.

May

Muncie's "ape man": Mike Zedekar, of the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo, shared stories and video of his work with great apes, including trips to Borneo, where he has participated in the orangutan species survival plan.

June

I killed my Venus flytrap! Chad Williams, who has been growing carnivorous plans for 28 years, introduced us to the world of these plants and discussed some basic growing points and common pitfalls.

 

2013-14 season

Oct.

Wildlife Resqu Haus: In her final public program, Diana Shaffer talked about the work she did for 50 years as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in caring for injured, ill, and orphaned birds, mammals, and other critters.

Nov.

Conservation awards program

Dec.

IDNR reintroduction project: Dr. John Castrale, a nongame bird biologist with the IDNR’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, talked about bird reintroduction projects in Indiana, especially those of bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and ospreys.

Jan.

Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE): Andy Meier (Purdue University) spoke about the HEE, one of the largest ecological experiments in Indiana. Its researchers are determining the effects of different logging methods on birds, bats, small mammals, salamanders, arthropods, vegetation, etc.

Feb.

Deciphering loon calls: Dr. Jay Mager, from Ohio Northern University, shared his research into common loon behavior and unveiled some of the mysteries of loon calls.

Mar.

No program because of bad weather

Apr.

Exotic birds: John Velasquez, an avid local birder, shared stories of some of the hundreds of birds he has seen and photographed in Mexico, Panama, and Trinidad, as well as Arizona and the Midwest.

May

The Big Year: Kirk Roth gave a presentation about his Big Year, in which he tried to see as many birds species in Indiana as possible in 2013. He a new record for Indiana birders to strive for in 2014!

June

Crab spider ecology: Dr. Gary Dodson, Professor of Biology at Ball State, presented information on crab spiders, which capture insect prey larger than themselves without using a web and change color to match their background.

 

2012-13 season

Oct.

Bats and wind energy: Michael Schirmacher, Wind Energy Fields Project Biologist for Bat Conservation International, discussed research into methods for reducing bat fatalities at wind energy facilities.

Nov.

Owl Prowl: In a special two-part program (separate from our regular conservation awards banquet), Dr. Tom Sproat (Northern Kentucky University) introduced both children and adults to the three species of owls that make East Central Indiana their home.

Dec.

Waterfowl migration: Adam Phelps, a wildlife biologist with the Indiana DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife, discussed the migration of waterfowl (primarily mallards, Canada geese, and wood ducks) within Indiana as well as the Mississippi Flyway.

Jan.

Hughes Nature Preserve: Jon Creek and Jeff Ray explained our chapter's restoration efforts at the Hughes Nature Preserve. Then Ball State landscape architecture students shared their design ideas for celebrating the preserve’s past, present, and future.

Feb.

Human dimensions of natural resources and forestry: Josh Gruver, Assistant Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Management at Ball State, addressed results from a recent study concerned with how private forest landowners make decisions about the future of their forest land.

Mar.

One-second identification: Jeff Riegel, a Field Technician Supervisor for the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment, gave tips for identifying fast-moving birds at a glance.

Apr.

Birders: The Central Park Effect: This film reveals the extraordinary array of wild birds who grace Manhattan's celebrated patch of green and the equally colorful, full-of-attitude New Yorkers who schedule their lives around the rhythms of migration.

May

The hearing side of bird song: Dr. Jeff Lucas, Professor of Biology at Purdue University, discussed a study of bird hearing that examines how birds process songs, how habitat constrains their use of songs, and how seasonal changes affect birds' communication.

June

Your best nature photos: Audubon members and friends shared their most interesting and wildest nature stories to program!

 

2011-12 season

Sept. A Swift Night Out: In a special September program, Shirley Needham, a wildlife rehabilitator from Fulton County, told us all about her specialty: chimney swifts. Afterward we went to a nearby building to watch migrating swifts swoop into a chimney roost.
Oct.

Sigma Xi research presentations: In a joint meeting with the BSU Chapter of Sigma Xi (the world’s oldest and largest scientific research organization), Ball State graduate students presented their research, with emphasis in environmental science.

Nov.

Conservation awards program

Dec.

Showing of Saving Pelican 895: The HBO documentary Saving Pelican 895 highlights the work done by dedicated wildlife professionals and volunteers to save birds in the wake of the BP oil spill disaster. Watch the film’s trailer at www.hbo.com/documentaries/saving-pelican-895/.

Jan.

Invasive plant management: John Taylor, Land Manager for the Field Station & Environmental Education Center at Ball State, discussed common invasive plants he manages, including identification, monitoring and control methods.

Feb.

Indiana bats & bat research: We learned about the 12 bat species in Indiana – two of which are endangered – from Dr. Tim Carter, Asst. Professor of Wildlife Biology and Mammalogy, along with some of the current research taking place in his lab at Ball State University.

Mar.

Beauties of Belize: Dr. Kamal Islam, Professor of Biology at Ball State, showed us the biological and cultural diversity that he and his students experienced on a field studies trip to the tiny Central American country of Belize.

Apr.

Forest fragmentation: Dr. Josh Gruver, from Ball State's Dept. of Natural Resources & Environmental Management, presented the impact of forest fragmentation and the decisions that pivate forest landowners make regarding the future of their forest land.

May

Water quality & Prairie Creek Reservoir: Dr. Jarka Popovicova, from Ball State's Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, discussed the status of water quality at Prairie Creek Reservoir and local water quality in general.

June

Our Favorite Birds: We watched the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Our Favorite Birds, a beautiful presentation of the Lab members' favorite birds, and we also enjoyed footage from Marcia Johnson's trip to Antarctica.

 

2010-11 season

Oct.

Habitat restoration at Zeigler Woods: Jon Creek, Jeff Ray, and BSU student Tom Fraley showed us the work our chapter undertook at the Zeigler Woods Nature Preserve in summer 2010: removal of ploan species and planting of native grasses on 50 acres of former pasture.

Nov.

Conservation awards program

Dec.

Field course study in South Africa: Biology professor Kamal Islam led us on a journey with students from Ball State University to explore the biodiversity, conservation biology issues, and cultures of South Africa.

Jan.

Birds of Cuba: Jean Ulman showed us highlights of a birding trip (sponsored by the Indiana Audubon Society and Caribbean Conservation Trust) that took her and 13 other participants throughout Cuba for two weeks.

Feb.

White River Watershed Project: Colby Gray and Phil Tevis, who work with both Flatland Resources and the White River Watershed Project, told us about a recent study about point and non-point source pollution in the White River.

Mar.

Bird protection & conservation in an urban environment: Don Gorney, president of the Amos W. Butler Audubon Society, told us about initiatives he's leading to protect birds in Indiana: Lights Out Indy, an initiative to reduce bird deaths due to building strikes, and Wings Over Indy, an effort to benefit Common Nighthawks and Chimney Swifts.

Apr.

Indiana turtle conservation & rehabilitation: Marty LaPrees, founder and president of Indiana Turtle Care, told us about Indiana turtles – their natural history, habits, and habitats – as well as conservation of native species and the work that she does as a wildlife rehabilitator specializing exclusively in turtles.

May

Wildflowers of Mounds State Park: Through both photos and plant specimens, Angie Manuel – naturalist interpreter at Mounds State Park (Anderson) – shared with us the beauty and science of spring and summer wildflowers at the park.

June

Wet-footed birds of South Africa: Bill Mahoney took us to South Africa through photos taken by his son Michael, with a focus on birds that swim or wade.

 

2009-10 season

Oct.

The Value of the Honeybee: Ball State education professor Carolyn Walker presented information about the natural history of the honey bee, pollination, the importance of honeybees in the ecosystem, and colony collapse disorder.

Nov.

Conservation awards program

Dec.

New Mexico National Parks: Bonnie Nicholson, former RCAS president and now employee of Bandelier National Monument, gave a slide presentation of New Mexico’s thirteen National Park sites and their plants, birds, and other wildlife.

Jan.

Bat conservation and threats: Biology professor Tim Carter, who specializes in bats at Ball State, told us about his innovative efforts to help conserve bat populations, by converting abandoned mines into bat hibernacula, and about white nose syndrome (WNS), which is killing bats in record numbers.

Feb.

Composting with worms: Susan Eichhorn, Education Coordinator for the East Central Indiana Solid Waste District, showed us how to create a vermicomposting farm for the home, allowing earthworms to eat kitchen scraps and make some of the best fertilizer you'll ever find.

Mar.

Rain gardens: Rain garden expert Holly Chaille gave advice on establishing a rain garden, which allows rainwater runoff from roofs, driveways, walkways, and compacted lawn areas to be absorbed, thus reducing the amount of pollution that reaches creeks and streams.

Apr.

Barred owls of Shadyside Park: Jean and Tom Harbron presented the pictorial odyssey of barred owls they followed in Shadyside Park (Anderson) from 1999 to 2009. They chronicled the owl family's history on their website, Birds of Madison County, including a tribute to the last member of the owl dynasty.

May

Weeds: Daisy Fryman, educator and scientist with the Purdue Extension in Delaware County, provided an overview of "weeds," both native (good weeds) and invasive (bad weeds) and their relationship with different environments.

June

Nature photo slide show: RCAS members and friends showed off some of their best nature photography for the last program of the season.

 

2008-09 season

Oct.

Mountaintop removal: Kentucky environmentalist Dave Cooper, with the Mountaintop Removal Road Show, gave a stirring presentation on mountaintop "mining" practices that have destroyed mountains and communities in Appalachia.

Nov.

Conservation awards program

Dec. South Pacific travels: Allen King longtime RCAS member, world traveler, and talented photographer – took us on a colorful photo journey to Tahiti, Tuamotu, and the Marqueses Islands.
Jan.

Eastern massasauga rattlesnake: Dr. Bruce Kingsbury, Director of the Center for Reptile and Amphibian Conservation and Management at IPUFW, acquainted us with the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake and its unique niche in Indiana ecosystems.

Feb.

The birds of Goose Pond: Restoration of the 8,000-acre Goose Pond and Beehunter Marsh is arguably the most exciting event for Indiana birders in the last decade. Dr. Lee Sterrenburg, of the Sassafras Audubon Society, shared findings about the 241 bird species that have now been recorded at the site.

Mar.

Loblolly BioBlitz: Limberlost Program Developer Jamie Faller shared recent developments at the Limberlost and previewed the Loblolly BioBlitz, a 24-hour assessment of the Loblolly Marsh Wetland Preserve in June 2009.

Apr.

Spring birding in Indiana: Experienced local birder Morris Gevirtz discussed the ecology of Indiana and the birds we should look for, along with his five not-to-be-missed one-day birding destinations.

May

Wildlife Resqu Haus: Diana Shaffer, founder and director of the Wildlife Resqu Haus (Yorktown), gave a slide presentation highlighting some of the most fascinating patients she's worked with since 1963. She also brought two of her education birds.

June

Nature photo slide show: Nine RCAS members and friends showed off some of their best nature photography for the last program of the season.

 

2007-08 season

Oct.

Cerulean warblers in Indiana: BSU ornithologist Kamal Islam presented research that he and his students have conducted on this declining species over the last seven years.

Nov.

Photography across Indiana: Richard Fields, photography editor for Outdoor Indiana magazine and one of two state photographers for the DNR, presented a montage of some of his best photos, taken across the state. Fields' work has been collected in Indiana Impressions and Indiana from the Air.

Dec.

Future of the environmental movement: David Keuhl, BSU urban planning professor, gave an overview of the changing trends and emphases in environmental organizations over the last 150 years.

Jan.

Indiana karst systems: Nick Noe, of the Indiana Karst Conservancy, gave a presentation on Indiana karst systems (limestone regions with sinks, underground streams, and caverns), which are rich with geological, biological and archaeological significance.

Feb.

Natural areas of ECI: Tom Swinford, Regional Ecologist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, in its Division of Nature Preserves, introduced us to some of East Central Indiana’s natural areas.

Mar.

Mapping natural areas in ECI: Kyle Johnson, GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Coordinator for Delaware Co., showed how GIS is used to assist various community projects and organizations and to address environmental issues.

Apr.

Attracting purple martins: Tom Jonker, an Indiana Mentor with the Purple Martin Conservation Association, offered tips about housing styles, both commercially made and homemade, and nest checks, as well as strategies for keeping starlings and house sparrows from taking over martin housing.

May

Birds of the Limberlost: Naturalist Bill Hubbard introduced us to some of the birds of the Limberlost and their songs, as well as a brief history of the Limberlost (1,500 acres of restored wetlands in Jay and Adams Counties) and author Gene Stratton-Porter, who lived in and wrote about the Limberlost.

June

Dealing with invasive exotic plants: John Taylor, Land Manager for BSU's Field Station and Environmental Education Center, presented information on invasive exotic plant species, their impact upon native ecosystem, their costs (economic and otherwise), and management strategies.

 

2006-07 season

Oct.

Chimney swift nesting and roosting: Shirley Needham, a wildlife rehabilitator from Rochester, Indiana, presented research that she and others have done on chimney swifts and the disappearance of suitable nesting and roosting sites. More info at www.chimneyswifts.org.

Nov.

The Birds of Madison County: Tom and Jean Harbron, creators of the Birds of Madison County website, showed highlights of the birds that they've chronicled for nearly eight years along the banks of Killbuck Creek and White River and in Shadyside Park in Anderson.

Dec.

IDNR reintroduction project: John Castrale, Nongame Bird Biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, updated our chapter on the continued success of Indiana's reintroduction projects for such species as ospreys, river otters, and bald eagles.

Jan.

The secret lives of Monarch butterflies: Loretta Heiniger, whose Anderson property serves as an official Monarch Butterfly Waystation, took us through the life cycle of Monarchs and presented information about the habitat that they and other butterflies require for survival.

Feb.

Bluebird basics: Greg Beavers, Vice President of the Indiana Bluebird Society, told us everything we need to know about the Eastern bluebird, including tips on attracting bluebirds and monitoring nest box activity.

Mar.

Red-tail Conservancy: Barry Banks, Executive Director of Red-tail Conservancy, presented a pictorial tour of the 17 properties protected by Red-tail in five counties of East Central Indiana – now totaling well over 1,000 acres.

Apr.

Confronting climate change: BSU professor John Vann, who was trained through The Climate Project, presented information about climate change and links between human activity and greenhouse gas emissions.

May

Bat conservation at the Indianapolis Airport: Dale Sparks, Assistant Director of the Center for North American Bat Research and Conservation, spoke about bat conservation research he has been doing on bats at the Indianapolis Airport.

June

Emerald ash borer and other invasive insects: Melissa Shepson, from Purdue University's Department of Entomology, gave an overview of invasive insect species in Indiana, with a special focus on the emerald ash borer and efforts to control the damage they do.

 

2005-06 season

Oct.

Environmental activism: Chap. president Mike Lannoo, Phil Tevis, and John Craddock led a discussion about the role that the RCAS can play in water quality, habitat restoration, and other environmental impact issues in East Central Indiana.

Nov.

Specimen collecting in Antarctica & Lilly Endowment funding: Mike Lannoo gave a slide show on his collecting trip to the Ross Sea, and Rick Lopez talked about possible ways to fund conservation activities in East Central Indiana.

Dec.

Important Bird Areas of Indiana: James Cole presented information about the international IBA program and the IBAs in Indiana, which provide essential habitat for one or more bird species for breeding, wintering, and/or migrating.

Jan.

White River transformation: John Craddock, former Director of Muncie's Bureau of Water Quality, showed "before" and "after" slides of the clean-up and transformation of the White River that he orchestrated in the 1970s and '80s.

Feb.

Indiana wildlife before the Ice Age: Geology professor James Farlow presented information about rhinos, camels, and other amazing animals that once lived in Indiana, especially those found in The Pipe Creek Sinkhole in Grant County.

Mar.

Wetlands restoration at the Limberlost: Ken Brunswick, co-founder of Limberlost Swamp Remembered and Regional Ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources, gave updates on the progress of wetlands restoration at the Limberlost, now totaling nearly 1,300 acres.

Apr.

John James Audubon: The 2006 banquet speaker was William Souder, author of Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of The Birds of America. His program gave little-known insights into Audubon as a man, a naturalist, and a wildlife artist.

May

Cope Environmental Center: Lina Gordy, then Executive Director of Cope Environmental Center, showed what the Centerville organization is doing to provide education, research, and demonstrations to promote the sustainable use of the earth's resources.

June

Wide world of orchids: Russ Vernon, co-owner of New Vision Orchids in Yorktown, introduced listeners to the beautiful and mysterious family of orchids and the interesting business of developing, growing, and caring for them.

 

2004-05 season

Oct. Mountaintop mining: Dave Cooper, an environmental activist from Lexington, Kentucky, showed us the devastating destruction that's being created by mountaintop coal mining practices in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.
Nov.

Colorful fall photography: Allen King, one of our long-time members, took us from New England to Utah, with a detour to Florida, following the season's changing colors through the lens of a camera.

Dec.

Galapagos Islands: Dr. Paul Thomas, a veteran global traveler, introduced us to the fascinating organisms that caught Charles Darwin’s attention when he visited the Galapagos Islands in the 1830s.

Jan.

Meeting canceled because of bad weather.

Feb.

Bird documentary: Videotape of a special bird presentation.

Mar.

Freshwater mussels: Brant Fisher, Nongame Aquatic Biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, gave an overview of freshwater mussels, one of the most endangered groups of animals in Indiana.

Apr.

Spring warblers: For the 2005 banquet, Don Gorney, well-known birdwatcher and Chair of the Indiana Bird Records Committee, provided a slide show presentation on the more common warblers of East Central Indiana.

May

Antlered flies: Dr. Gary Dodson, biology professor at Ball State University, shared his research on the strange-looking antlered flies of Papua New Guinea and Australia.

June

Malformed frogs: Laura Guderyahn, research assistant to Dr. Mike Lannoo in amphibian research, discussed known causes of malformed frogs.

 

2003-04 season

Oct.  
Nov.

IDNR reintroduction project: Dr. John Castrale, Nongame Biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, gave us an overview of Indiana's programs to reintroduce peregrine falcons, bald eagles, whooping cranes, and ospreys to the state.

Dec.

Photography from Lake Powell: Allen King, one of chapter's most talented photographers, took us to Lake Powell and surrounding areas in southern Utah and northern Arizona.

Jan.

Bats: Dr. Tom Morrell, wildlife biologist at Ball State University, presented some of his own research findings about bats, including their important roles in pollination, insect control, and dispersal of fruit seeds.

Feb.

Digiscoping: Phil Kelly told us about the newest form of wildlife photography: digiscoping, which is the combined used of digital cameras with quality birding spotting scopes.

Mar.

Turkey vultures: Dr. Neil Sabine, a biology professor from IU East, shared research he's done on turkey vultures, especially their social habits, as well as past research on bald eagles.

Apr.

Birdsongs: Brad Jackson entertained us and even educated us about learning to identify birds by their songs, as the speaker for this year's spring awards banquet.

May

Aquatic invasive species: Dr. Gwen White helped us learn what we can do to stop nuisance aquatic plant and animal invaders such as zebra mussels, bighead carp, purple loosestrife, white perch, and sea lamprey.

June

Butterflies of Indiana: Sandy Belth, naturalist and outdoor educator in Monroe County, introduced us to her vast knowledge of butterflies that occur throughout southern Indiana and beyond. Her husband Jeff supplied the stunning butterfly photography.

 

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