mystery The answer to the clues may be found at the bottom of this column.    Teachers and Parents: Enter to win an entire set of Dawn’s nature books of one title for your home or classroom. It's fun and easy!
Just read the clues below. They describe an aspect of nature—a plant, animal, mineral, habitat, or natural process.
When you're ready to make your guess about who or what I am, click ENTER NOW.
Who Am I?
spacerglass1 Clue 1:  I'm a member of the "dog family."
glass1 Clue 2:  I live throughout North America in deserts, prairies, forests, and even in towns and cities.
glass1 Clue 3:  You might hear me howling at night to communicate with my pack.
glass1 Clue 4:  Don't let me trick you—I am NOT a wolf.
Do you think you know who I am? ENTER NOW.
Entries should be submitted no later than noon on Friday.
If you guessed correctly, you’re automatically entered into the monthly drawing for a set of nature books from Dawn Publications.
A contest winner will be announced at the end of September.
Throughout the school year, clues for a new Who Am I are posted no later than Sunday night, so you can use them with your class on Monday morning.Good luck!
The answer to last week's mystery was: SEASHELLS Although Inside Outside Nature blog is changing it's focus, this weekly "Who Am I?" will remain the same! Teachers, click here to get ideas about how to use the contest with your students.  

Home is Where the Heart Is

What do you notice first when you open a picture book? The pictures, of course. That’s why finding the right illustrator for a story is so important. This week’s Guest Blogger is illustrator Trina Hunner! She explains how she was inspired to tell Molly’s story through pictures…and also words in Molly’s Organic Farm . (It was a real pleasure for me to collaborate with Trina in telling Molly’s tale.)

The TRUE  Story of Molly—by Trina Hunner

OMOLLY_COVERn a cool spring day in 2005, a little orange cat showed up at a small organic farm in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas in northern California. She was an unusually small cat, most probably because she didn’t get proper nourishment when she was a kitten. But despite her wild start, she loved to be around people and instantly bonded with the owners of Mountain Bounty Farm. They named her Molly.

As the weather warmed, more and more farmers arrived to work in the fields. Each and every one of them fell in love with her. Molly spent her days frolicking in the chard, zooming through the broccoli, and chasing after all the many farm creatures. In the evenings, she’d curl up on one of the farmer’s laps, purring contentedly.

I stopped by Mountain Bounty Farm—one of our local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms—every week during the growing season to pick up a box of organic vegetables, and with each visit I got a special greeting from Molly. I was as excited to see her friendly face as I was to receive my produce.

MOLLY1The summer days passed, fall came, and the farmers began to prepare for winter. Fields were planted with cover crops and tools were packed away. The farmers headed off to other places. But what was to become of Molly? I could almost see the concern on her face as she watched her good friends leave.

My husband and I lived in a small cabin right next to the farm, and we were asked if Molly could spend the winter with us. We jumped at the chance. That first winter was really special. Molly went on long walks with us—even in the snow! In the evening, she spent hours curled up by the fire or snuggled in our laps. And when the first spring crops began to sprout, Molly headed back to the farm.MOLLY3

So it was for four seasons—Molly socializing at the farm in spring and summer, then spending a quiet fall and winter with us. This book is written in loving memory of Molly, a homeless cat that found not one but two homes.

Inside: Sampling the Seasons

Wednesday is the Vernal Equinox, marking the first day of spring! This activity (downloadable pdf) from Molly’s Organic Farm, by Carol Malnor and Trina Hunner, reinforces concepts about the seasons by having students make watercolor sketches of seasonal vegetables.

Outside: A Speck of Soil

MACG_COVER2As Molly discovered on the farm: Healthy soil grows healthy plants for healthy food! What’s in soil? Children use observation and several scientific tools to examine garden soil in this activity (download pdf) from Jo MacDonald Had a Garden by Mary Quattlebaum.


Mollys Organic Farm -Earth Day Event (Small)

Trina Hunner (right) at an Earth Day book signing in 2012.

More About Trina Hunner

    Trina loves to eat organic fruits and vegetables, especially kale. For several years she lived adjacent to an organic community farm near Nevada City, California. That’s where she met Molly, the star of her book, Mollys Organic Farm. She and her husband Nikos began to “mark our lives around the cycles and rituals of the farm.” She even spent a few spring days planting with the farmers and developed an immense respect for them and the hard work farming takes. The quality of the food itself convinced her that healthy, fresh food has transformative powers and made her passionate about eating and promoting local, organic foods. She can often be found riding her bike to the elementary school where she teaches, skiing in the mountains near her home, or cuddling her cat Charlotte.