Ask a Master Naturalist

Each season we will field a question we have heard around Innsbrook to a Missouri Master Naturalist. Send us your questions for future editions to

Ask a Missouri Master Naturalist about phenology – October, 2016 

Allison Volk, an Innsbrook property owner and Missouri Master Naturalist shares the following with us.

While you are walking on one of the many trails at Innsbrook, do you often wonder what that trail looked like in the Winter, Spring or even last week or last year? Or do you mentally say to yourself “I just don’t remember seeing as many Virginia Bluebells or falling acorns at this time of year”? If so, you may have the making of a phenologist: someone who contributes scientific data that has been gathered from the same area over a period of time.

The data is shared on a website of the USA National Phenology Network at USANPN .  This network is used by the scientific community to examine what is going on in Nature all over the world. If more people add their observations or gathered facts into this network the scientists will be able to see real time what global changes, like climate change, may be having an impact at local levels.

The IBK Nature Group already has a page dedicated to phenology at IBK Phenology Log  with a multiple-year list of observations people have contributed to from across IBK. If you have interest in contributing your own observations let’s organize a coordinated phenology effort for IBK. We could pick one or more trails to use as an outdoor classroom and in addition to taking notes on what we observe we could also track the movement of Bush Honeysuckle and its impact of the native species. To become part of the IBK phenology team of citizen scientists please send us a note to

Ask a Missouri Master Naturalist about how can we live in harmony with Nature – June 2016

Allison Volk, our resident Missouri Master Naturalist, shares the following with us.

“Living in harmony with nature is one of the reasons we purchased our property at Innsbrook.  It was printed all over the resort brochures at the time and I thought it was just fantastic.   I still do, but over the years of owning property here I have witnessed changes with the Nature around us that got me thinking about our ecological community and what I might be able to do differently to help keep our Nature in balance.


Photo by Cindy Bowers

Three things come to mind that I shared at the recent Chautauqua. The first is to decide how much of your property you would like to share with our native residents.  Make some brush piles and plant native flowers and you are on your way to providing what our wild neighbors need.  Bird feeders will not only attract birds but many mammals and reptiles that also will enjoy the birds, their eggs, or the seed.  If you would like to reduce the mess that some visitors like raccoons make around the feeders, try to reduce the spillage factor onto the ground and take feeders in at night. Having pets mark their territory can also help. If you have a nuisance mammal that is bold and persistent you may want to suspend feeding the birds for a while until that mammal has moved on to a different food source.

Next I suggest limiting the use of pesticides and rodenticides on the outside of your property.   The birds, including our prized Innsbrook Eagles along with other mammals and reptiles that eat rodents need a food chain that is not loaded with hazardous and often deadly chemicals.   If rodents and bugs are non-toxic their food chain predators will be healthier which should help to balance out the pest populations.  If you have a pest problem inside your home or chalet please only treat the inside.   If you have an outside baited rodent station you could be advertising a free meal to passing pests that would normally prefer to stay away from our human habitat.

IMG_0494Lastly, to help maintain our forest ecosystem, please walk your property each spring and fall to eradicate invasive species.  Asian Bush Honeysuckle is starting to show up in our local woods and it will most definitely change for the worse our forest and wildlife as we know it. It spreads quickly from the red berries in the fall that are eaten by the birds then distributed thru their elimination.   Bush Honeysuckle leafs out first in the spring shading out native plants and trees which our pollinators, birds and mammals all need.  Honeysuckle also prevents Hickory and Oak seedlings from growing, so when the older canopy starts to die off as is natural, the seedlings will not be ready to replace them and our entire woods will change as will the view from your deck.  Finally, this will reduce our songbird population that relies on the top canopy of the trees for their habitat.”


3 thoughts on “Ask a Master Naturalist

    • Yes, if it is small enough you can often just pull it up by its roots. Otherwise dig it up as unfortunately, just cutting the stems off at their base will not eradicate it. Thanks for asking!


  1. I was told that if you cut a large bush at the stem then IMMEDIATELY spray the root with a specified weed killer, it won’t come back.


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