Yuri’s Night: Fun with STEAM Skills for Kids!

Are you looking for a fun family time that will also teach your kids skills they need? Katie Julsrud, Director of Education and Outreach with the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, says, “STEAM is the acronym we use at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics. The Arts (music, drawing, painting, sculpting, sewing, etc) use many of those original STEM skills. That is, you need measurement and fractions to make patterns for sewing, you need chemistry to make correct ratios for sculpting material, and so on. STEAM skills are considered twenty-first-century skills and are important for learners of all ages to use to understand evolving technologies and to keep pace with new advancements in society.”

The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire and Beaver Creek Reserve are partnering to offer Yuri’s Night, a local offering of the Yuri’s Night events held all over the world during the month of April to promote and facilitate “global celebration of humanity’s past, present, and future in space in commemoration of Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human to venture into space on April 12, 1961, and the inaugural launch of the first Space Shuttle on April 12, 1981.”

The local event will be held at Beaver Creek Reserve, S1 County Road K, on April 12 from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Preregistration is required. Activities will be held at Hobbs and the Main Lodge on the North Campus (opposite side from the Wise Nature Center). The event is FREE for members of BOTH the Children’s Museum and Beaver Creek Reserve. There is a $3.00 fee for Beaver Creek Reserve Members and $5.00 charge for nonmembers. Registration information and a full description of events can be found at beavercreekreserve.org/events. This event requires parents to attend with their children—no childcare is provided.

Chippewa Valley Nature Festival 2018: Immerse Yourself in Nature

By Marcia Mason

A very special experience is coming your way! The Chippewa Valley Nature Festival, sponsored by the Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society, will be Friday, June 1, through Sunday, June 3, and will feature presentations, workshops, and field trips throughout the Menomonie, Eau Claire, and Downsville areas.

Friday night kicks off with “All Things Connected” presented by the Minnesota Zoomobile, a discussion of diversity with a live animal exhibit. A silent auction and cash bar will offer good mingling time.

Saturday will feature numerous opportunities to learn about and experience the natural world, such as garden insects, area snakes, cultivating mushrooms, and beginning beekeeping. Live birds will be a part of the ecosystem conversation led by The Raptor Education Group from Antigo, and hands-on workshops will teach how to attract bluebirds to your home and build a bluebird house. Try your hand at a nature-themed drawing class for fun and relaxation.

Saturday is chock full of outdoor field trips, with several opportunities by foot or canoe/kayak. Explore Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area, the Dunnville Bottoms, and Coon Fork Barrens Natural Area. Travel the Red Cedar and Chippewa River. Or descend 70 feet below ground, walking the passages of Crystal Cave, learning about the world of bats and their environs. Get close and personal to Karner Blue butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies, as well as terrestrial insects. Learn to identify plants of the prairie and examine the specifics of how to monitor bluebirds. On the more casual side, you can visit the James Newman Clark Bird Museum, UW-Eau Claire, with expert birder Steve Betchkal.

Saturday evening promises fun and conversation at the Duke and Dagger. Steve Betchkal will host Bird Bowl, a competitive game of bird trivia, with British pub-style food and drink available for purchase.

The festival concludes with a bird and plant tour via an antique open-air train through the Tiffany Bottoms Wildlife Area. It is part of the Lower Chippewa River wetlands, one of the most extensive and biologically diverse deltas in the Midwest.

Participants can attend as many sessions and field trips as wish. Children are welcome and receive free admission with a paid adult. Earlybird (reduced-price) weekend passes or single event fees are available if paid by May 15; but registration is open throughout the festival. Note that some field trips require an extra cost, and there are participant limits for a few events. You are encouraged to sign up early to ensure participation in events that interest you. Go to www.chippewavalleynaturefestival.com to check out the festival agenda and event information. For specific inquiries, please email naturefest@outlook.com.

Marcia Mason is assisting festival founder Nina Koch with event planning and promotion. She has enjoyed quiet sports such as camping, canoeing, hiking/snowshoeing for decades, as well as general observation of animals and birds throughout the seasons.

Lawn Chemicals and Canines

By Heather Mishefske, Owner, emBARK 

Lawn chemicals.  To some, these words conjur up images of lush green lawns to lust over.  To many of us reading those words conjur up images of sick pets and children.

We all know that lawn chemicals can cause more harm than good to both our environment AND our pets.  One breed in particular has been studied more than many looking at the damage that lawn chemicals can have.  Scottish Terriers are 16 times more likely to develop transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder, and research is suggesting that the exposure to herbicides and insecticides is having a dramatic influence on this increase.1

How and why do these chemicals affect our dogs?  As we all know, our dogs are all inherent hunters.  Some of them hunt ants on the sidewalk, while others track moles under the earth in our yards.  The routes in which these chemicals enter a dog’s body are ingestion, inhalation, and transdermal exposures.  Our dogs walk through our neighbors’ lawns, and come home to sit on the couch and lick their paws.  They are intent on smelling where that rabbit hopped off to, and inhale deeply.  And, as many of this magazine’s readers most likely are not using herbicides on their lawns, it is well known that these chemicals can travel in the wind over 50 feet into your lawn.  Wind speed is a warning on the application guidelines for herbicides, but this may be unknown to many who apply them.

Keep your dogs safe this spring/summer by avoiding lawns that have been treated and by being overly cautious about wiping off noses, paws, toes, and tails that have possibly been exposed with a damp towel.


Lawn chemicals, particularly, ones containing 2,4-D, have been linked to at least two types of canine cancers. Studies found that lawn chemicals travel to neighboring yards and inside homes, and chemicals have been found in the urine of dogs whose owners did not spray their lawns.2

Dogs are flame-retardant reservoirs. Brominated flame retardants, often known as PBDEs, are among the top chemicals threatening your health. And these long-persisting chemicals are inside most American dogs, too. Hiding out in pet bedding dust and even food, it’s no surprise dog samples contained 19 different PBDE flame retardants. One type was detected at levels 17 times higher than concentrations typically seen in people.3

Plastic toys are poisoning your pet.  Phthalates are industrial chemicals found in everything from dog shampoos, scented candles and air fresheners to certain plastics. Phthalates aren’t only used to synthetic scents stick around longer, but they help turn rigid plastic into more flexible forms, too. (Many plastic dog toys contain phthalates, unfortunately.)3


Sources: 1. Glickman, Lawrence VMD, DrPH; Raghavan, Malathi DVM PhD; Knapp, Deborah DVM, MS, DACVI; Bonney, Patty; Dawson, Marcia DVM. “Herbicide Exposure and the Risk of Transitional Carcinonoma of the Urinary Bladder in Scottish Terriers.”  In Journal of the Veterinary Medical Association. April 15,2004 Volume 224 Number 8, page 1290 – 1297; 2. http://thinkaboutnow.com/2017/06/studies-link-canine-cancers-to-lawn-chemicals/; 3. https://draxe.com/chemicals-in-dogs/.

An Alternative Look at Chronic Kidney Disease

By Margaret Meier Jones, Animal Wellness Center of Buffalo Valley

With improved nutrition, health styles, and better management of “traditional” veterinary diseases, the average lifetime of our beloved pets is increasing in years. This means more wonderful memories with our pets, but it also means an increase in geriatric conditions such as heart and kidney disease. Traditional management of these conditions typically involves a prescription diet, fluid therapy, and medications, leaving pet owners wondering if there isn’t something more that can be done. Alternative therapies, such Chinese medicine and nutritional supplementation, might just be the answer!

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) means that the kidneys are not working as well as they once were to remove the waste products of metabolism circulating in the blood. According to Pet Health Network, 1 in 3 cats and 1 in 10 dogs will be diagnosed with CKD. Unfortunately, much of the kidney function (estimates of 65 to 75 percent) has been lost by the time there are changes to “normal” kidney blood values. Some signs of CKD include increased thirst, increased frequency and volume of urination, weight loss, poor appetite, and decreased energy. As the condition advances you may notice your pet’s breath may become acrid as toxins build up in the blood stream. Blood and urine tests are used to diagnose kidney disease, and you should see your veterinarian to have them performed on your pet if you’re noticing any of these symptoms. If your doctor confirms your suspicions of CKD to be true, that’s when alternative therapies really should be considered to augment traditional treatments.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys are the most yin organ of the body, whereas the heart is the most yang. Together, they are considered the oil lamp of life with the kidneys storing the oil needed to sustain the flame provided by the heart. And, just like any oil lantern, if you run out of oil, the flame flickers and goes out. Chinese herbs, acupuncture point prescriptions, and Food Energetics work in synergy to add more oil, so to speak, to the kidneys, keeping the flame of life going strong.

Food Energetics is the inherent energy in the food, and one of the most powerful resources at our fingertips for helping our pets’ bodies work better. Food truly is medicine, and the Chinese have designated everything we eat to be either Cold, Cooling, Neutral, Warming, or Hot. Processed prescription diets for CKD have science to prove they help, but they really are just the beginning. The more processed any food is, the more its original nutritional make-up is changed. Processing adds heat to food in Chinese terms, and too much heat in our diet can cause dis-ease.

Whole food supplementation, from companies such as Standard Process, help replace micronutrients lost in processing. I strongly recommend either Canine or Feline Renal Support whenever I diagnose CKD in my patients. Other nutricuticals, including products like Epikitin and Azodyl, can help bind the toxins normally excreted by the kidneys, aiding in their elimination by alternative routes such as the GI tract. Homeopathic remedies may also provide additional options to ensure that each day with your beloved pet is the best it can be!

Chiropractic for Pets

by Dr. Alyse Hall, CVSMT, Owner of Happy Tails Chiropractic

Chiropractic has been the #1 form of natural healthcare for the last 100 years or so. Last year alone, 33 million people sought chiropractic care and reported a 97 percent satisfaction rate. At Stucky Chiropractic, we recently celebrated our 57th year taking care of the Chippewa Valley, the young, the elderly, and every age in between. What you may not know is that humans are not the only ones who benefit from chiropractic care. Your family pets do too! Animal chiropractic has only been accepted in the traditional veterinary community, though, for the last fifteen years or so. Animal chiropractic helps to reduce subluxations (misalignments within the spine and extremities) to help improve the function of your pet’s immune and nervous systems.

Animal chiropractic is not meant to replace traditional veterinary care. Animal chiropractic offers non-surgical, drug-free options for helping bone, disc, and soft-tissue disorders related to improper spinal biomechanical movement for animals of all sizes. It is not an alternative treatment, but rather an integrative method that when used in conjunction with good traditional veterinary care, may provide many more years of healthy living for your pet.

Symptoms that can be present in your pet companion when a subluxation exists can range from mild to severe. Generally, if there is pain or discomfort, you’ll notice a change in your pet’s behavior, gait pattern, or performance. For instance, a dog in pain or discomfort will often pant more than normal. Your pet may also pace or yelp, sit or stand abnormally and/or in an awkward position, and he/she might even show signs of incoordination. These are just some subtle signs you may see in your pet that point to dysfunctions within the nervous system. Subluxations can cause other problems as well, including stiffness, lameness, difficulty going up and down stairs, difficulty jumping onto the couch or bed, difficulty chewing or swallowing, muscle atrophy, changes in gait like “sidewinding,” stumbling, weakness, urinary incontinence, constipation, etc.

When you take your pet for a chiropractic adjustment, the first thing the doctor will do is get a history on your pet, including information about their lifestyle and overall health status. The chiropractor will also want to see any prior x-rays take on your pet and will want to consult with your primary veterinarian. A chiropractic exam includes a neurological assessment, an evaluation of stance and gait, motion, and static palpation. Each abnormality in spinal alignment and extremities noted during the exam will be corrected through spinal manipulations, which are also known as adjustments. The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association defines an adjustment as “a short lever, high velocity controlled thrust by a hand or instrument that is directed at specific articulations to correct vertebral subluxations.”

Most animals respond well to adjustments and are generally instinctively aware of the problem in their body before the owner even notices. Chiropractic is not limited to an injured or sick pet. Healthy and athletic animals are ideal candidates for chiropractic care as well. Chiropractic may enhance the quality of your pet’s (large or small) life, ensuring many more active and healthy years for them and your family.