Beyond The Rock students successful at Meijer Great Choices Student Film Festival

June 25, 2015 // 0 Comments

Rockford High School students in the Beyond The Rock video production program participated in the annual Meijer Great Choices Student Film Festival again this year. Students from around the state submitted short, thirty second videos promoting character, healthy lifestyle choices, and diversity. Over four hundred and thirty videos were submitted this year, and five Rockford groups were fortunate enough to place amongst the top ten videos within the six categories offered. Students Dannie Donneth, Paige Barnard, Brendan Burke, Nate Warnock, Haley Nash, Katie Montroy, Megan Dileo, Rachel Coon, Sydney Kleis, and Nicole Jones were all among the top finishers. Partners Nicole and Sydney walked away with a strong third place finish in the category of making healthy choices and received a five hundred dollar gift card reward. The students and their accomplishments were celebrated in a special event at Celebration Cinemas. The students, along with their friends, family, and instructors, were treated with popcorn and pop as the awards were presented and all videos were shown on the big screen. At the end of the day it was another great opportunity for BTR students to use their talents to promote a positive message.

Canine Flu Spreading in Michigan

June 25, 2015 // 0 Comments

How to Curb the Contagion The Canine Influenza has been spreading throughout the continental United States, including Michigan, so the American Veterinary Medical Association(AVMA) has some information and tips to help dog owners better understand the virus. “What we need to keep in mind is that humans can physically transmit the virus – which can stay on our clothes for up to 24 hours- so it is important to be careful about interacting with any unknown dogs,” says AVMA spokesperson Dr. Aspros “With proper education, we can do our best to minimize the spread.”   What is canine influenza? Canine influenza (CI), or dog flu, is a highly contagious infection caused by an influenza A subtype H3N8 virus first discovered in 2004.   What are common symptoms of the infection in dogs? In the mild form, the most common sign is a cough that persists for 2-3 weeks. However, some dogs can develop signs of severe pneumonia, such as a high-grade fever (104°F-106°F) and faster breathing. Other signs in infected dogs include nasal and/or ocular discharge, sneezing, fatigue, and refusing food.   Is every dog at risk of infection? All dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection.   How does it spread? Canine influenza is spread from dog to dog through the air, contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and people interacting with infected and uninfected dogs. On surfaces, the virus is alive and can infect dogs for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours.   Can veterinarians test for canine influenza? The most reliable and sensitive method for confirmation is serologic testing. Antibodies to canine influenza virus can appear in blood as early as 7 days after symptoms begin, and the virus may be identified in nasal or pharyngeal swabs during the first 4 days of illness.   Any treatment options? In May 2009, the USDA approved the first influenza vaccine for dogs. Trials have shown that it can significantly reduce the duration of illness, including the incidence and severity of damage to the lungs. Dog owners should consult with their vet to determine whether the vaccine is appropriate for their dog.   Can canine influenza infect people? There is […]

Middle school student illustrates comics of The Rock Cycle

June 25, 2015 // 0 Comments

By Hailey Huffman East Rockford Middle School student, Sophie Sales, recently graduated the sixth grade, along with her classmates in the Earth Keepers magnet. During the school year, Sophie’s teacher, Mrs. Altizer, took a few days to teach the class about the invasive land plants and species in Michigan. The Earth keeper students were then asked to write a research paper with information they found in the library. Aside from her three-page research paper on the invasive land plants and species, Sophie drew a series of three comics, The Morphing Rock: A Superhero Rock, which tells the life tale of a young Sedina the Sediment. Over the course of the three stories, Sophie demonstrates not only her art skills but also how young Sedina the Sediment morphs from one type of rock to the next. Throughout the comics, Sedina (Sediment) transforms to Sedianna (sedimentary rock), to Metamorgan (metamorphic rock), to Magmia (magma), then lastly morphing into Iggy (igneous rock). Mrs. Altizer, who recommended that the series be published, recognized Sophie’s artist skills. Over the summer Sophie says she plans to take swimming lessons, take a vacation with her family and help out with a church fundraiser for Iglesia Apostolic Nueva Life in Wyoming. Enjoy your summer, Sophie and keep up the good work!

DNR offers tips for residents when encountering snakes

June 25, 2015 // 0 Comments

This time of year, as snakes are out and about in the great outdoors, the Department of Natural Resources gets many questions about Michigan’s snakes. Michigan is home to 18 different species of snakes, 17 of which are harmless to humans. There are two that are very similar and often cause a stir when people encounter them. Eastern hognose snakes, when threatened, puff up with air, flatten their necks and bodies, and hiss loudly. (This has led to local names like “puff adder” or “hissing viper.”) If this act is unsuccessful in deterring predators, the snakes will writhe about, excrete a foul-smelling musk and then turn over with mouth agape and lie still, as though dead. Despite this intimidating behavior, hog-nosed snakes are harmless to humans. The eastern massasauga rattlesnake, the only venomous snake species found in Michigan, is quite rare and protected as a species of special concern due to declining populations from habitat loss. As the name implies, the massasauga rattlesnake does have a segmented rattle on its tail. It should not be confused with the other harmless species of snake in Michigan that do not have segmented rattles but also will buzz their tails if approached or handled. Eastern massasauga rattlesnakes are shy creatures that avoid humans whenever possible. Also known as “swamp rattlers,” they spend the vast majority of their time in year-round wetlands hunting their primary prey, mice. When encountered, if the snake doesn’t feel threatened, it will let people pass without revealing its location. If humans do get too close, a rattlesnake will generally warn of its presence by rattling its tail while people are still several feet away. If given room, the snake will slither away into nearby brush. Rattlesnake bites, while extremely rare in Michigan (fewer than one per year), can and do occur. Anyone who is bitten should seek medical attention immediately. To learn more about the massasauga and for more snake safety tips, visit Those who encounter a snake of any kind should leave it alone and should not try to handle or harass the snake – this is primarily how snake bites happen. A snake can only strike roughly one-third of its body length, so it is physically impossible for people to get […]

Unique whitetail deer draws world-wide attention

June 10, 2015 // 0 Comments

Dragon’s mother rejected him at birth A Dragon in the wild wouldn’t stand much of a chance. Even under the close supervision of Deer Tracks Junction ranch, in Courtland Township on Fourteen Mile Road (M-57) it was a close call. Dragon is a rare pie-bald whitetail deer born three weeks ago with coloration so startling that his mother would have killed him if Kelly and Hillary Powell had not removed him shortly after his birth. Although the deer are bred and raised in captivity, their natural instincts remain. “If they think there is a problem they won’t waste their time on them. They abandon them or stomp on them.” Luckily for Dragon, who is the offspring of a mother who also sports white coloration, he was able to spend his first days in the Powell home and is now penned nearby others of this year’s new fawns. Hillary posted pictures of Dragon on the Deer Tracks Junction webpage, like they do of all new animals on the wildlife ranch, and received a surprising amount of attention. The Squire first saw Dragon as a news clip on AOL but the national coverage on CNN and the Huffington Post was not as far as Dragon’s fame spread. Hillary said a journalist from England called asking for a link to the drop box where Hillary posted Dragon’s newborn photos. A cousin of Kelly Powell also called to say he’d heard about the special white fawn in his hometown news—in Germany. Hillary said the news coverage has brought plenty of people out to see Dragon, as well as the other deer, elk and assorted farm animals at the ranch. One woman said she had to have Dragon at any price, but was told he is not for sale. Visitors are welcome to snap their own pictures of Dragon when they see him on the evening wildlife tours. He is not available during the ranches day hours, however. At three weeks old, Dragon is slowly being accepted by the other animals in his pasture, including his own mother who is happy with Dragon’s twin, who is normal colored and another yearling pie-bald deer. The older deer, whose markings are extremely similar to Dragon, was born last year but garnered no […]

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