Scavenger Hunt 2016

I have a friend who lives in Vermont.

Vermont is a pretty cool place. It is filled with mountains, trees, and all that is wonderful. It is also a remarkably clean place, which I did not realize until I returned to my home state. We should all try to be more like Vermont.

Last year I learned through my friend, Flask, that the Vermont State Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation has a fun little contest every year called the Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge.

The prize? A free state parks pass.

We should definitely try to be more like Vermont.

One of the tasks in last year’s VVOC was to create a scavenger hunt and then have people perform said hunt. Flask took the time to create one that could be done in any part of the world. It was vague enough to seem easy at first glance, but boy was it a challenge.

I learned a lot about native and invasive species – flora and fauna.

I learned about wild edible plants – my favorite part of the experience.

Somehow, I actually won the contest. I still cannot believe it.

This year, Flask has upped the ante. IT. IS. A. CHALLENGE.

Here is what I will be working on from now until September ~

flask’s nature scavenger hunt 2016

Please provide photographic evidence and necessary text explanations that you have found as many of the following as you like. There are a lot of categories, intended to make the list flexible for people in different biomes.

Things you can identify specifically (e.g., spotted towhee, balsam fir, limestone):
Rocks (one point each kind, maximum ten kinds)
Grasses (one point each species, maximum ten)
Ferns (one point each, maximum ten)
Fungi (one point each, maximum ten)
Lichen (one point each, maximum ten)
Shrubs (one point each, maximum ten)
Trees (one point each, maximum ten)
Wildflowers/herbs (one point each, maximum ten)
Mammals (one point each, maximum ten)
Birds (one point each, maximum ten)
Insects (one point each, maximum ten)
Reptiles or Amphibians (one point each, maximum ten)
Fish (one point each, maximum ten)
Aquatic plants (one point each, maximum ten)
Non-insect Arthropods (one point each, maximum ten)
Non-insect, Non-arthropod Invertebrates (one point each, maximum ten)
At least TWO contrasting terrestrial or aquatic habitats (e.g., Palmetto Prairie, Eastern Boreal Floodplain, Temperate Hemlock Forest) (two points each, maximum ten)

BONUS: provide short documentation of classification system used and justification of your identification for an additional eight points each.

Animal scats (please identify species) (two points each, maximum ten)
BONUS: make observations about the animal’s health, habitat or diet based on the content. (eight points each)
Owl pellet (five points, plus fifteen if you dissect it and identify content)
Any wild growing edible plant (two points each, maximum ten)
Eggs (please identify species. five points each, maximum ten)
Any natural feature mentioned in a work of fiction that you have read (please identify the work and quote the passage) (five points each, maximum ten)
Any geographical feature formed by erosion and/or sedimentation (five points each, maximum ten)


(pay attention to the scoring in this section: photos in this section will be scored with multipliers. Your photo of a plant’s leaves is worth however many leaf classification terms it illustrates. If you can identify the plant in the photo with its species name, your score doubles. For scoring purposes, each term can only be used once, although words like “palmate” may be used in as many categories as it occurs. (e.g., palmate leaf shape is counted separate from palmate venation)

Leaves can be classified on the basis of petiole, arrangement, lamina, venation, and location. An ABBREVIATED LIST of examples will be used on this sheet, but you are welcome to use a more complex or complete listing if you want to go whole hog. Wikipedia is a good starting point if you like:

Leaves needle-like or scale-like
Broad leaves
Sessile / petiolate / grasping
Leaf shape: elliptic, ovate, oblong, palmate, cordate
Leaf margin: entire, dentate, serrate, incised
Leaf division: single, compound pinnate, compound palmate, decompound, bipinnate
Leaf surface: rugose, hairy, glabrous, spiny
Leaf apex: acute, obtuse, truncate
Leaf base: rounded, cordate, sagittate
Leaf arrangement: alternate, opposite, whorl
Leaf venation: reticulate, parallel, pinnate, unicostate
Leaf location: basal, cauline, ramal

You are not required to find every item (or even most of the items) in order to participate. Team entries are permitted. Take your time, do as much or little as you want, and by all means look stuff up. Prizes will be given for most points and any other categories flask deems necessary. Houseplants and housepets are not eligible to be identified for this challenge, no matter how exotic your household is. Submission deadline is 1 September 2016, and i’m assuming that if you have a copy of this list, you know how to send me your entry. Yes, you may make an album on googleplus or flickr or what-have-you, but if i have to log onto facebook, no dice.



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