Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend at Fort Ticonderoga

Spend an Unforgettable Memorial Day Weekend at Fort Ticonderoga - America's Fort

Experience an Unforgettable Memorial Day Weekend at Fort Ticonderoga – America’s Fort

Join Fort Ticonderoga on Memorial Day weekend, May 28-30, to salute the service of the armed forces of the United States on the very grounds where so many American soldiers fought and sacrificed. Parade into Fort Ticonderoga behind the Fife and Drum Corps during a special program on Memorial Day at 11 am, and step back in time to meet the soldiers of the American Revolution. Experience all aspects of the life of the Continental Army soldier in 1776, from their weapons to their rations, and learn about what they believed would come from their sacrifice in the name of liberty. Construction of soldier’s huts will be led by Museum Staff throughout the weekend, continuing Fort Ticonderoga’s project in experimental archaeology to recreate houses and huts built by Pennsylvania soldiers at Ticonderoga in 1776.

A full line-up of programs offered throughout the weekend include daily tours in the fort, King’s Garden, and exhibition spaces; historic trades programs; Vessel Carillon boat tours on Lake Champlain; cannon demonstrations; musket demonstrations; and the Mount Defiance experience. Fort Ticonderoga’s Battlefield Hiking Trail and canoe rentals on Lake Champlain will also be available beginning Memorial Day weekend.

The Fort Ticonderoga experience includes boat tours on Lake Champlain, Mount Defiance experience, daily musket and cannon demonstrations, historic trades, exhibitions, soldier's life programs, King's Garden and more!

The Fort Ticonderoga experience includes boat tours on Lake Champlain, Mount Defiance experience, daily musket and cannon demonstrations, historic trades, exhibitions, soldier’s life programs, King’s Garden and more!

“Spend the day at Fort Ticonderoga this Memorial Day weekend,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO. “See Fort Ticonderoga at the beginning of the American Revolution in 1776; a hive of activity as citizens turned soldiers as they build extensive lines of defenses across the Ticonderoga peninsula and beyond to try to secure to secure this vital stronghold from the British. Throughout the weekend, visitors will witness the labor of liberty as soldiers from the Continental Army bring to life this defining story through military drill, historic trades, and fatigue duties such as carpentry.”

A 10% general admissions discount will be given to active duty military members with proof of service for this special weekend event. For more information, visit our calendar at www.fortticonderoga.org or call 518-585-2821.

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“Hands-on Minds-on!” Grants Support Fort Ticonderoga School Outreach

Thanks to generous support from several foundations, Fort Ticonderoga served over 800 students throughout the Adirondacks and in western Vermont during the current school year. The “Soldier’s Life at Fort Ticonderoga” program made up the majority of the programs.

Fort Ticonderoga Museum Staff engaged more than 800 fourth grade students through Outreach Programs during the current school year.

Fort Ticonderoga Museum Staff engaged more than 800 fourth grade students through Outreach Programs during the current school year.

This program provides students with a tangible, hands-on, minds-on experience of history,” said Judy Contompasis, School and Youth Programs Coordinator at Fort Ticonderoga. “Students are encouraged to think critically about the lives of soldiers during the American Revolution and determine the logistics required to supply the army at Fort Ticonderoga. Students discover how the geography of Ticonderoga influenced the history of North America.”

Lisa Fabin, a fourth grade teacher from Minerva Central School, noted “It was wonderful and the students loved the program. They were able to touch the reproduction clothes that a soldier wore. They saw the pack that was used to carry the blanket, food, soap, and writing notebook in it. The canteen and the gunpowder horn were also a part of the soldier’s gear. They not only learned about the gear but they also learned how many pounds and tons of gear were needed for the troops during wartime. They were using math and thinking skills! As a veteran teacher I know that kids learn by doing, holding, tasting, touching, creating, and viewing artifacts!”

“This was spot-on for what our students are learning right now, thank you for visiting our classroom!” added Anna Howell, from Lincoln Community School in Lincoln, Vermont.
The programs featured both an educator and an historical interpreter going into fourth grade classrooms. In total, 812 students were served in 23 different schools throughout the region. Fort Ticonderoga staff logged over 1,500 miles during the year traveling to schools.
Generous grant support made possible these in-classroom programs. Programs within the Adirondack Park were supported by the Lake Placid Education Foundation while programs in Vermont’s Addison County received support from the Walter Cerf Community Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation.

Teachers’ interested in booking a program for the coming 2016-17 school year are invited to contact Fort Ticonderoga Education Department at 518-585-6370 to place their name on a waiting list pending anticipated funding.. The programs are offered late October 2016 through mid-April 2017 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. To learn more about education programs from Fort Ticonderoga, visit www.FortTiconderoga.org and select the “Education” tab on the menu.

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Developing Important Skills for the Next Generation

So, what does developing skills in history have to do with advancing the United States in the global economy? How does history hold its own in a world focused on science, technology, engineering, and math? Turns out, the skills cultivated through the study of history prove to be integral to developing the types of skills today’s business leaders are looking for in new hires.

Norm Augustine, a former chairman and CEO at Lockheed Martin, sounded the alarm a few years ago about the state of education in the United States. The nation was falling behind its global competitors. Did Mr. Augustine suggest more rigorous course-work in the sciences? In math? In engineering? No! He encouraged a renewed emphasis on history.

What does the ability to rattle of names and dates have to do with American success internationally? Nothing. But then, that’s not what history is about. The study of history, when it gets beyond the “dates and names” approach, teaches a number of skills valued by the corporate world: critical thinking, research skills, and the ability to communicate clearly. Augustine notes: “a candidate who demonstrates capabilities in critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and communication has a far greater chance of being employed today than his or her counterpart without those skills.” And he adds that these skills “are competencies that our public elementary and high schools can and should be developing through subjects like history.”

NHD wht-red“Students who are exposed to more modern methods of history education—where critical thinking and research are emphasized—tend to perform better in math and science” Augustine wrote. “As a case in point, students who participate in National History Day—actually a year-long program that gets students in grades 6-12 doing historical research—consistently outperform their peers on state standardized tests, not only in social studies but in science and math as well.”

The National History Day program has been around since 1982. Millions of students from all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories and Defense Department schools around the world, participate in the History Day program. Each year, National History Day identifies a theme—the theme for the coming 2016-17 school year is “Taking a Stand in History!” Students select a topic related to the theme that interests them and begin the research process.

Janet Denney.MORIAH NY 518 546 3495

St. Mary’s School student Lorelei Leerkes with her exhibit on Samuel de Champlain at North Country History Day 2016.

Participating students have multiple options. If writing is their strength, they can write a historical paper. Students with a good sense of design might opt to construct a table-top exhibit. Those prone to theatre might create a performance. The documentary category is suited for those good with a camera and at telling a story. More computer-savvy students may opt for designing a website. But key components to all projects are learning to conduct research.

Students analyze historical sources and make judgement calls on which sources are reliable. They learn the value of consulting primary sources and multiple points of view. They create a thesis and find supporting evidence. They draw conclusions based on their research. They learn how to communicate their findings through various media and in the interview with judges that’s an integral part of the History Day experience. In essence, everything Mr. Augustine is looking for in a new hire in the business world is developed and cultivated in the National History Day program.

Since 2008, Fort Ticonderoga has coordinated North Country History Day for New York State. Students from six New York counties (Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, St. Lawrence, and Warren) participate at Fort Ticonderoga early each March. Those who place first and second in each category advance to represent the region at New York State History Day in Cooperstown in April. The top entries there advance to National History Day, held in College Park, Maryland, in June.

Most students who participate in History Day never advance beyond the school or regional level, but they take away valuable skills—those skills Mr. Augustine and his colleagues are looking for. Every student receives constructive feedback from the panel of judges. Judges come from as far away as Albany to participate in North Country History Day each year. Judges are current and retired educators, archivists, museum and historic site staff, and others from the local and regional community interested in working with students.

This year’s North Country students represented the region well at New York State History Day. Homeschooler Grace Sayward, from the Plattsburgh area, placed second in the Junior Historical Paper category for her paper on “Marjorie Lansing Porter” and will represent New York at National History Day next month.

Janet Denney.MORIAH NY 518 546 3495

Alice Cochran, Christina Lasway, and Nicholas Manfred from Moriah Central School

Alice Cochran, Christina Lashway, and Nicholas Manfred, from Moriah Central School in Port Henry, placed third in the Senior Group Exhibit category for their exhibit “The Bracero Program.” They are designated alternates; should the first or second place entries be unable to advance to National History Day, they would move on to represent New York State.

Ben Caito and Liam Sayward, homeschoolers from the Plattsburgh area, won a special award from the New York State Historical Association for an outstanding project exploring New York History for their Senior Group Documentary “Verplank Colvin: an Exchange of Ideas.”

Fort Ticonderoga also sponsored a state-wide award at this year’s New York State History Day for an outstanding entry related to Colonial or Revolutionary history. The winner of the Fort Ticonderoga Colonial History Award was Ewan Todt-Tutchener from Ithaca High School in Ithaca, New York, for his Senior Historical Paper on “To Please the Indians: Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange on the Canadian Frontier.”

Mr. Augustine would be proud of our North Country students. He believes the American economy will thrive “because of a ready supply of workers with critical thinking, creative problem-solving, technological, and communications skills needed to fuel productivity and growth. The subject of history is an important part of that foundation!”

 

Rich Strum

Director of Education

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My Clothes are Hand Stitched, But No One Will Talk to Me

3 Tips for Getting Conversation with Visitors Going

conversation with visitorsFor re-enactors, living historians, and the like, a lot of work goes into the details of bringing history to life for visitors you hope to inspire or educate. Maybe you’ve stayed up all night finishing off that new broadcloth coat or worsted gown. Maybe you’ve driven ten hours to be on the original battlefield, on the same day and same time as the actual battle. Sometimes the public, the very folks you are trying to engage, just won’t come see what you’re doing. They walk around you or snap a picture and walk away. If this sounds familiar, you may be giving off some subtle cues that keep visitors away. Interpretation–the art of engaging people with the people and stories that make history come alive—is an art to be mastered in its own right. However, there are a few tricks that can make your next living history event come alive. Make all the work that goes into doing great living history count:  talk to some visitors.

Just say, “Hello”

DSC_5401Even though living history is nothing new, visitors don’t necessarily know what your deal is. They don’t know if you are portraying a character or what’s going on. You have to make the first move and greet visitors you encounter. Period clothing, especially uniforms with period arms and accouterments, set you apart and can be intimidating. Simply saying, “hello,”, “good morning,” or “welcome,” lets folks know that despite the historic attire, you are a regular, approachable human being. This simple step lets folks know that you are available to talk. Body language is important too; we all know what bad service in a store looks like and how it makes us feel. Don’t accidently do this to visitors. Greet folks with a genuine smile. Even if you are seated or working with your hands, look up at people you greet. A friendly greeting breaks the ice and lets people know you’re there to talk, hopefully about the really cool period activity you are doing.

Don’t Huddle

conversation with visitorsPart of the fun of living history events is hanging out with old friends at the event. It’s easy to circle together and catch up. While this is a lot of fun, it sends a very clear signal to visitors. Football teams huddle for a reason: to keep the other team out of the discussion. Spread out to make space for visitors to join the conversation. Breaking open circles will allow you to greet and invite visitors in, without giving the impression that visitors are interrupting.

Numbers are Intimidating

IMG_7466A whole platoon or more of re-enactors is imposing to visitors. It is wonderful to create the real size and spectacle of military units. It can give folks a perspective on the scale of events we are trying to portray. The weight of numbers that made military units useful is imposing to visitors. Snappy drill and a military bearing, which make for a better presentation, make these portrayals even more imposing. Activities like firings and drill require safety margins, but don’t miss out on a great conversation about what’s going on. To have the imposing spectacle of numbers while interacting with visitors, pull out a handful of re-enactors to go out and engage visitors. These individuals will be more approachable, to explain the demonstration, be it firings, maneuvers, or even cooking mess en-masse. This problem is not unique to military portrayals, any large living history activity—framing a building, washing laundry—can be big and impressive enough to keep visitors away. Here too, take the spare hands from the work, get them out talking to visitors. You’re doing something cool; make sure visitors get the opportunity to know just how neat it is.

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Regional Students Win Awards at New York State History Day

New York State History Day

Image of New York State History Day winners Alice Cochran, Christina Lashway, and Nicholas Manfred from Moriah Central School.

Several North Country students won recognition at New York State History Day, held in Cooperstown, New York, on Monday, April 18. Grace Sayward, a homeschool student from the Plattsburgh area, placed second in the Junior Historical Paper category. Alice Cochran, Christina Lashway, and Nicholas Manfred, from Moriah Central School, placed third in the Senior Group Exhibit category. Ben Caito and Liam Sayward, homeschool students from the Plattsburgh area, were awarded a special prize from the New York State Historical Association.

Over 450 students from across the state participated at New York State History Day, part of the National History Day program that begins with regional contests around the state. North Country History Day includes students from Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, St. Lawrence, and Warren counties and is held at Fort Ticonderoga each March. Winners at the regional level advance to compete in Cooperstown. Winners at the state level advance to National History Day held in College Park, Maryland, each June.

Grace Sayward competed in the Junior Historical Paper category with her entry on “Marjorie Lansing Porter.” She placed second and qualifies to represent New York State at National History Day, to be held June 12-16, 2016, in College Park, Maryland.

Alice Cochran, Christina Lashway, and Nicholas Manfred competed in the Senior Group Exhibit category with their entry on “The Bracero Program.” They placed third and are designated alternates. Should either the first or second place entries be unable to advance to the national contest, they would represent New York State at National History Day in June. Their entry also won the New York State Archives special prize for the best use of primary sources at North Country History Day held in March at Fort Ticonderoga.

Ben Caito and Liam Sayward competed in the Senior Group Documentary category with their entry “Verplank Colvin: An Exchange of Ideas.” They won the New York State Historical Association Award for an outstanding entry exploring New York State History.

Students from Gouverneur Central School, Moriah Central School, Peru Junior Senior High School, and St. Mary’s School (Ticonderoga) also represented the region at New York State History Day on April 18.

Fort Ticonderoga sponsored a state-wide award at this year’s New York State History Day. The Fort Ticonderoga Colonial History Award went to Ewan Todt-Tutchener from Ithaca High School. His Senior Historical Paper on “To Please the Indians: Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange on the Canadian Frontier” was recognized as an outstanding entry related to Colonial or Revolutionary history.

National History Day is the nation’s leading program for history education in schools. The program annually engages 2 million people in 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Guam. Students research history topics of their choice related to an annual theme and create exhibits, documentaries, performances, research papers, and website designs. They may enter in competition at the regional, state, and national level. Participants include students in grades 6-8 in the Junior Division and grades 9-12 in the Senior Division. National History Day also provides educational services to students and teachers, including a summer internship program, curricular materials, internet resources, and annual teacher workshops and training institutes. Fort Ticonderoga hosts teacher workshops about History Day each fall in the North Country and Regional Coordinator Rich Strum is available to meet with teachers at their schools to introduce the program. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal in 2011, “Students who participate in National History Day—actually a year-long program that gets students in grades 6-12 doing historical research—consistently outperform their peers on state standardized tests, not only in social studies but in science and math as well.”

Teachers and students from Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, St. Lawrence, and Warren counties interested in participating in North Country History Day during the 2016-17 school year should contact Rich Strum, North Country Regional Coordinator for New York State History Day, at rstrum@fort-ticonderoga.org or at (518) 585-6370.

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Spend the Day at Fort Ticonderoga! 2016 season begins Saturday, May 7

Fort Ticonderoga AerialExperience Fort Ticonderoga on land and water during the 2016 season, beginning on Saturday, May 7. Fort Ticonderoga is a multi-day historic site, museum, and family destination that encourages visitors to build their perfect adventure in America’s most historic landscape. Every day is an event at Fort Ticonderoga and every year is a new experience. It is the only site in the world that tells a new story each year through dynamic historical interpretation. This year is 1777 at Fort Ticonderoga; a fundamental year in the American Revolution. Guests will discover 1777 as German, Canadian, British, and American soldiers, as well as their native allies, fought to control the vital Lake Champlain corridor.

1777 interpretationDaily programming will bring to life this epic story through new programs and exhibits, living history weekends, special events, gardens, the Carillon Battlefield hiking trail, canoe rentals, Mount Defiance, hands-on family activities, and daily boat tours aboard Fort Ticonderoga’s 60 ft. cruise boat, the Carillon.

“Fort Ticonderoga is a family destination and a center for learning. A visit is an interactive, multi-faceted experience,” said Beth Hill, President and CEO. “It’s exploring the beautiful gardens, finding adventure in our events, marching with the Fife and Drum Corps, and learning about a historic trade. Visitors can engage in a number of interactive experiences as they walk through the restored fort, immerse themselves in the history of Lake Champlain on a boat tour, and spend an afternoon in our exhibit galleries exploring our premier collections.”

2016 Highlights:

Carillon fall foliageEnjoy Fort Ticonderoga from the water aboard the Carillon! The 60-foot tour boat Carillon offers daily tours around the Ticonderoga Peninsula on Lake Champlain. Set between the Green and Adirondack Mountains, tours on the Carillon explore not only the epic 18th-century military stories, but also the maritime heritage of the 19th and 20th centuries. The enjoyment carries into the evening with sunset cruises in July and August. Charters are also available!

Experience 1777 this year! A variety of daily soldier’s activities, tours, musket and cannon demos, Fife and Drum Corps performances, and special family programming will immerse guests in the dramatic and pivotal story of this remarkable year considered the turning point of the American Revolution. The season will begin with the American control of Ticonderoga until early July when the British will force the evacuation and take control.

shoemaking Step into the shoe maker’s shop and tailor’s shop to explore how Fort Ticonderoga served as a major supply depot producing the shoes and clothing that shaped American and British uniforms in 1777. With needle and thread or awl and bristle discover what kinds of supplies were used to protect soldiers from the elements and meet the needs of “Campaign Necessaries.” From tree to timber and beam to building, watch carpentry in action as soldiers turn thousands of board feet into everything from barracks and bateaux to batteries and blockhouses.

Fort Ticonderoga features an exciting new exhibit: The Last Argument of Kings: The Art and Science of Artillery in the 18th Century. Fort Ticonderoga’s artillery collection is internationally recognized as the largest and most significant of its kind in North America. This incredible collection has been set dressing to the reconstructed fort since the early 20th century. The Last Argument of Kings exhibit located in the Mars Education Center will reveal the story of these complex weapons through exploring the creation, use, and after lives of these remarkable objects. The Last Argument of Kings was funded in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and generous donor support.

Canoe rentalsRecreation activities will highlight Fort Ticonderoga’s rich historic landscape in 2016! A family scavenger hunt will be part of the hiking trail winding around the Carillon Battlefield. The trail offers guests an unparalleled opportunity to explore epic history and natural beauty, and the canoe rental program provides a unique perspective of Fort Ticonderoga’s history from the stunning waters of Lake Champlain.

Visit Mount Defiance to witness a birds-eye view of Fort Ticonderoga’s epic military landscape and discover how this summit shaped America’s history! Mount Defiance: Witness to History Tour is offered daily at 4pm.

King's GardenThe beautiful King’s Garden, one of North America’s oldest gardens and the largest public garden in the Adirondack-Lake Champlain region, is open all season and offers several new garden-related programs for children and adults as well as daily tours. Guests will roll up their sleeves and dig into Fort Ticonderoga’s centuries of horticulture in the formal Colonial Revival garden and five additional plots in the Discovery Gardens. A new interactive Soldiers’ Gardening program welcomes visitors to help tend the gardens alongside soldiers as they grow rows of vital vegetables to supplement their issued rations. Gardening: Then and Now will encourage visitors to sow and hoe with an early 20th-century interpreter portraying one of the Pell family’s personal gardeners, and learn how gardening supported the family throughout the era of reconstruction.

corn mazeThe Heroic Maze: A Corn Maze Adventure, the popular family activity, will continue in its sixth year with a new design for 2016.  Guests will find new clues connected to Fort Ticonderoga’s history while they explore a six-acre corn maze. Hidden in the maze are 8 stations, each representing a component of the 18th-century fort. Players are given a Quest Card to collect a stamp from each station.  It takes perseverance and skill to find all of the objects and is great fun for all ages. The corn maze opens August 13 and is included with general admission.

Hours and Admission:

Fort Ticonderoga is open daily from May 7 through October 16, 2016 from 9:30 am until 5 pm and from October 17 through October 30 from 10 am until 4 pm. General admission tickets to Fort Ticonderoga can be purchased online at www.fortticonderoga.org or on site at the admissions booth upon entry. Members of Fort Ticonderoga and Ticonderoga Resident Ambassador Pass holders are admitted free of charge. Combination tickets for Fort Ticonderoga admission and Carillon boat cruises are available. Two-day admission tickets to Fort Ticonderoga are also available at a discounted rate.

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The Northern Army is at Fort Ticonderoga!

Exciting Living History Event planned for opening weekend, May 7 – 8

Experience an immersive living history event at Fort Ticonderoga highlighting the occupation of Ticonderoga by the American Northern Continental Army. On Saturday May 7 through Sunday May 8, guests will step into the year 1777 as soldiers muster together to train and dig-in, preparing for General Burgoyne’s British and Brunswick army expected at any time. This event will kick off the 2016 season at Fort Ticonderoga and capture the site’s epic story from the American perspective. Event tickets are included with daily admission. Two-day admission ticket discounts apply. Members of Fort Ticonderoga, Ticonderoga Ambassador Pass holders, and children age 4 and under are free. For more information, call (518) 585-2821 or visit fortticonderoga.org.

Carpenters Yard living history“‘Carry on the Works in the Northern Army’ living history event will trace the footsteps of New England regulars and militia as they encamp, cook and entrench themselves to keep the Ticonderoga camp in American hands,” said Stuart Lilie, Fort Ticonderoga’s Senior Director of Interpretation. “Saturday morning, nearly to the same day as in 1777, guests will witness Massachusetts soldiers dig in and recreate a full scale redoubt, small enclosed fortifications, built to better reinforce the American position at Ticonderoga. In real scale, with the same type of tools and materials used 239 years ago, Fort Ticonderoga Museum Staff and re-enactors will raise earthen walls, which could stop or deflect musket and cannon fire, as they responded in kind. This amazing hands-on piece of experimental archaeology will help to teach us about the military science in 1777. Guests will have the opportunity to grab a shovel and lend a hand to see what it takes to build such massive earthworks! The excitement will continue into Sunday as oxen demonstrate just how easily they can move logs weighing thousands of pounds.”

“Fort Ticonderoga has the largest surviving network of Revolutionary War earthworks in North America,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga’s President and CEO. “The miles of entrenchments built along the Ticonderoga peninsula were the sole defense for the American Army in 1776 and 1777. This living history event will recreate this epic narrative through immersive programming and demonstrations, and bring together the science and math with the day-to-day work of American soldiers preparing to defend Ticonderoga in 1777.”

Every day is an event at Fort Ticonderoga and every year is a new experience. It is the only site in the world that tells a new story each year through dynamic historical interpretation, exhibitions, and educational programming. This year is 1777 at Fort Ticonderoga; a fundamental year and turning point in the American Revolution. Guests will discover 1777 as German, Canadian, British, and American soldiers, as well as their native allies, fought to control the vital Lake Champlain corridor. Daily programming will bring to life this epic story through tours, soldier’s life programs, historic trades, soldier’s gardening, hands-on family programs, museum exhibitions, and daily boat tours aboard Fort Ticonderoga’s 60 ft. cruise boat, the Carillon.

Click here to view the Visitor Schedule

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Rabbits in the Garden

eastern cottontail rabbitsPublic gardens, like the King’s Garden, have some of the same wildlife pressures found in home gardens—in this case, rabbits.   “Isn’t he cute” might be an expression you use watching cottontail rabbits hop about, unless you’re a gardener and they’re enjoying your plantings, in the food sense.  Knowing a bit about rabbits, you can choose appropriate and effective methods of control for your situation.

Although there are 13 species of cottontail rabbits north of Mexico, the most common you’ll probably encounter is the eastern cottontail.  Cottontails, obviously named from their short and white cottony tail, usually spend their whole life in an area under 10 acres.  They may move a mile or so between summer food and winter cover, or to a new food supply.

Their appetite can vary with region and season.  In general they will devour many flowers, being especially fond of new tulip shoots as they emerge in early spring.  Most know the children’s story by Beatrix Potter of Peter Rabbit being pursued by Mr. McGregor in his vegetable garden.  Cottontails also quite enjoy feeding on plants in the rose family, such as apple trees and raspberries.  They like the soft and smooth bark of some trees, especially young ones, either nipping them off or gnawing the bark beyond recovery.  If you think rabbits have been feeding, look around for their characteristic round droppings.  Also look for feeding no higher than they reach—about 2 feet.  They leave clean, diagonal cuts on stems.

Country-Diary-Archive--Yo-008They don’t dig their own burrows for overwintering, but rather use those of other animals such as woodchucks.  Or they may just use a brush pile or similar dense cover.  In summer, cottontails use dense growth for cover.  When they need a little more protection in fall and spring they create a weed or grass nest shelter called a “form”.

“To breed like rabbits” is another expression commonly used, and for good reason.  Although most cottontails only live a year, perhaps two, they can produce 12 to 18 offspring.  The rabbits’ gestation period is just under a month, each litter in the north can have 5 to 6 young, 2 or 3 litters a year, and within hours of giving birth rabbits often breed again.  For this reason, no lethal control is permanent.  Other than trapping and shooting, best control is from exclusion methods and habitat modification, with some control from repellents.

If you do use live traps, make sure they are the right size for rabbits, and that you can legally relocate them in your community.  Some states have laws against this.  Don’t get your scent on the trap or the rabbit may avoid it.  Use rubber gloves, or spray the trap with apple cider. Place traps near where the rabbits are feeding, and near cover for them.  In winter you can bait with dried cob corn or dried apples.  In summer use apples, green vegetables, or the proverbial carrot shown in bunny cartoons and depictions.  A rolled cabbage leaf held with a toothpick is a good bait, as are lettuce and Brussels sprouts. If you don’t catch your rabbit in a week, move the trap to a new location.

rabbit eating leavesIf shooting, again check local laws regulating such, especially in populated areas. Poisoning of rabbits is not recommended nor legal in most areas.

One of the best and easiest controls is to exclude rabbits from gardens and the berry patch with an inexpensive chicken wire mesh fence.  It doesn’t need to be very sturdy, just about 2 feet high with the bottom edge tight on the ground or buried a few inches. Use one-inch mesh fencing. You can use a dome or cage of this fencing over tulips and small flower beds while they are getting established and plants are young.  If rabbits are hungry, they may chew right through chicken wire, so in this case you may need to install much heavier-gauge rabbit fencing.

For young trees, protect trunks with a plastic tree guard.  More sturdy and resistant to chewing is a cylinder of hardware cloth mesh placed around trunks or small shrubs.  Make sure the mesh is at least one to 2 inches from the trunk, and higher than rabbits can reach when standing on the usual compacted snow depth.

Habitat modification is more effective in urban and suburban areas where there is little natural cover.  In rural areas it may be difficult or impossible to remove all weed patches, stone piles, old fields and dense growth.  Removing such habitats in or near suburban areas, as well as brush piles and vegetation along roads and fences, should greatly reduce populations.

Repellents, either by taste or smell, can be effective if used from the start, or at least at the first sign of damage. This will vary with population and food source.  Otherwise, if their feeding habits are established, they are hard to change. If there are lots of hungry rabbits, exclusion may be all that works.

Repellents are applied with a brush or more often sprayer, often coming ready to spray. Generally, taste repellents are more effective than odor repellents.  The latter includes moth balls and dried blood meal sprinkled among plants.  Small plastic canisters containing garlic scent can be placed among seedlings or clipped onto shrubs (my rabbits don’t seem to mind garlic apparently). Another repellent contains fox urine scent.

rabbit eating grassKeep in mind taste repellents may wash off and need reapplying, only protect the parts covered, and will need reapplying to new growth.  I learned this the hard way, spraying some sunflower seedlings before setting out.  I obviously got the repellent spray on the leaves and not much on the stems, as the next day I found nice rows of leaves on the ground where the stems had been.

Taste sprays you can buy may contain putrescent eggs, hot pepper, blood products, and similar vile smells or smells of danger to rabbits.  I’ve found a product containing a pleasant lemon scent seems to be effective.  Some repellents contain the fungicide thiram, so make sure and read all labels before applying.  This is especially important with food crops.  Just as a blood or egg product may not taste good to rabbits, it may not be appealing on your vegetables either!

Encourage, or at least don’t interfere with, natural enemies that can help in your control.  These include hawks, owls, foxes, weasels, and snakes.  Cats can be effective against young rabbits, but may attack other wildlife such as desirable birds too.

King's GardenMany home remedies may make the user feel good, but are rather ineffective.  These include hose pieces on the ground to resemble snakes, inflatable snakes and owls, and large glass jars with water.  The latter are supposed to scare rabbits when they see distorted reflections.  (I can just see my rabbits now laughing at such and wondering what kind of game I’m playing.)

There is much more on rabbits and their control, as well as for other wildlife species, at the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management.

Be sure to check out the King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga this year, and ask the Horticultural Technicians what their methods are for keeping these cute garden pests out of the vegetables!

Dr. Leonard Perry, Fort Ticonderoga’s Horticulturist in Residence

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Fort Ticonderoga Partners with the McCormick Center for the Study of the American Revolution at Siena College

Internships Give Transformative Experience to Students

Internships at Fort Ticonderoga

Greg Tirenin, Kristen Doyle, and Liam MacDonald, from the McCormick Center for the Study of the American Revolution at Siena College.

Fort Ticonderoga is delighted to announce a new collaboration with the McCormick Center for the Study of the American Revolution at Siena College. Three undergraduates will spend an intensive three-week residential internship at Fort Ticonderoga beginning in late May.

“Fort Ticonderoga is committed to providing engaging and meaningful experiences to students of all ages,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO.  “We are especially pleased to have the opportunity to provide valuable career experience to the next generation of public historians and museum professionals. Our museum’s staff welcomes the opportunity to work with Siena College and with our three Siena interns this year where they will gain valuable experience in education, interpretation, and collections and other museum related work. This new venture builds on the success of our Edward W. Pell Graduate Fellowships program launched in the summer of 2015.”

“I am extremely enthusiastic about this new partnership with Fort Ticonderoga,” noted Dr. Jennifer Dorsey, an Associate Professor of Early American History at Siena and the Director of the McCormick Center. “This internship program provides a wonderful opportunity for undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in public history to gain real-world experience with the professional staff at Fort Ticonderoga.”

Siena College’s McCormick Center for the Study of the American Revolution is a community-engaged teaching and learning program rooted in the traditions of liberal learning, service, and advocacy. “Our students love learning history and believe that history education is essential for individuals, communities, and the future,” Dorsey said. “The McCormick Center provides students with personally meaningful leadership and learning opportunities to advance history education in New York State. Through internships, academic service learning, and undergraduate research fellowships, our students regularly partner with museums, libraries, historical societies, schools, and the public sector to develop and share educational programming about the history of New York State and colonial and Revolutionary America.”

The Siena interns are:

  • Kristen Doyle is completing a major in American Studies and a Certificate in Revolutionary Era Studies. She is a member of Siena College’s History Club, the Siena Chorus and Stage III, the College’s theater club.
  • Liam MacDonald is a native of the Greater Boston area and an unabashed history buff. He is a History Education major with a special interest in the American Revolution, the English Atlantic World, and contemporary U.S. politics.
  • Greg Tirenin grew up in Rome, New York, where he volunteers at Fort Stanwix National Monument. He is completing a major in History and a Certificate in Revolutionary Era Studies. After he completes his summer fellowship at Fort Ticonderoga, he will study abroad in London.

In addition to the three-week internships for the Siena students, Fort Ticonderoga will once again host four graduate students for a two-month immersive experience this summer through the Edward W. Pell Graduate Fellowship program. Fort Ticonderoga’s educational programs are made possible thanks to generous donor support.

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Scout Overnight Program Offered at Fort Ticonderoga

Scout OvernightFort Ticonderoga is pleased to announce the return of the immersive Scout overnight program during the spring and fall of 2016. Scouts can book their adventure for Saturday nights May 14 through June 11 and September 10 through October 22. This offer is available for Boy Scout troops and Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors.

“Imagine your troop being able to garrison Fort Ticonderoga overnight!” said Fort Ticonderoga’s Director of Education Rich Strum. “Give your Scouts an experience they’ll never forget—a rare chance to spend the night at Fort Ticonderoga.”

Scouts arrive in mid-afternoon and are immediately thrust into the life of a soldier at Ticonderoga in 1775. They’ll participate in the “Planting the Tree of Liberty” program and then have the opportunity to explore Fort Ticonderoga and embark on adventures specifically suited to their interests.

“Scouts will establish their overnight camp, gather firewood, and learn how to start a fire with flint and steel,” said Stuart Lilie, Senior Director of Interpretation. “They will assist with the preparation of the evening meal while learning about 18th-century cooking. After cleanup, Fort Ticonderoga museum staff will lead Scouts on an evening hike over the historic landscape before they settle in for the night. In the morning, Scouts again help with starting the fire and fixing breakfast just as soldiers did at the 18th-century fort. Once the site opens for visitors, Scouts can explore the fort, museum, and King’s Garden on their own before concluding their adventure.”

In addition, Scouts will have the opportunity to rent a canoe to discover the historic La Chute waterway, hike the Carillon Battlefield Trail, and witness a birds-eye view of Fort Ticonderoga from Mount Defiance. New to this adventure is a chance to explore Lake Champlain aboard Fort Ticonderoga’s Carillon boat, a 60ft vessel offering 90-minute guided tours. Boat charters are also available. Scouts visiting in the fall will also have the opportunity to explore the six-acre corn maze in a new 2016 fort design created especially for Fort Ticonderoga.

Scout OvernightParticipants have the option of setting up their own tents on the historic grounds or, if numbering 16 or fewer Scouts and adults, spending the night in the Soldiers’ Barracks.

A cost of $700 for 16 or fewer Scouts and adults or $1000 for up to 30 Scouts and adults includes admission and special program fees as well as the evening and morning meals prepared over a camp fire. Additional fees may apply.

For additional information about this and other programs available for Scout groups during the 2016 season, click here. To make a reservation, contact Lauren MacLeod, Group Tour Coordinator, at 518-585-2821 or at LMacLeod@fort-ticonderoga.org.

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