Want to volunteer at Allen County Parks?

We would love to have you!!!!

We need volunteers for all kinds of activities, be it
program help, maintenance help, removal of invasive
species, filling bird feeders, small construction projects, hosts/hostess, anything you’d like to do!!

All potential volunteers for the Allen County Parks
Department must complete a volunteer application
before volunteering. A link to this application can be
found at our website on the Volunteer in the Allen
County Parks page.

What's Happening at Metea County Park?

To view a complete and up-to-date list of activities occurring at Metea Park, please see the Wild Grapevine, available at the Allen County Parks website.

Cross Country Ski Clinic at Fox Island

January 10, Saturday 10:00 -12:00 AM, Fox Island Nature Center

Cross country skiing is for everyone. Clinic participants will learn the basics: how skis, poles and bindings work, waxing vs. no-wax, purchasing, ski prep and maintenance, dressing appropriately and receive basic instruction and practice on technique.

Class fee is $7.00, and includes an hour of ski rental (weather permitting) or a voucher for future ski rental (weather not permitting). If you bring your own skis, class fee is $3.00.

A minimum of 5 pre-registrants is required by January 5, 2009. Call 449-3186 for pre-registration or more information. Please leave shoe size, height and weight in order to reserve equipment.


By Bob Dispenza, Park and Education Manager, Allen County Parks, Fort Wayne, IN

During this winter’s cold weather, you’ll often hear people say they’re “freezing.” It’s the time of year when my wife’s “freezing” feet seem to find their way onto my back to warm up. But we don’t know what real freezing is – not like some of our native frogs do. They will actually freeze solid, which would kill most animals. Our little “frogcicles” can thaw out and live again in the spring.

Gray tree frog photo by Natalie Haley

Stars of “It Came From Beneath the Ice” (freezable frogs in our area):

  • Eastern gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor)
  • Cope’s gray tree frog (Hyla chrysoscelis)
  • Spring peeper (Hyla crucifer)
  • Chorus frog (Pseudacris triseriata)
  • Wood frog (Rana sylvatica)

Theses frogs are unable to dig down below the frost line, can’t migrate, and live on land or in shallow water that disappears or freezes completely in winter. They can’t fight (by keeping warm), and they can’t run away (by migrating). But they can adapt. Without the ability to survive freezing, they would not make it through the cold weather.

Several adaptations make all this possible. The goal is to get the water out of the cells, and then get it to freeze in a controlled fashion at the highest possible temperature. Water freezing inside the cells will kill them, but frogs can survive water freezing in areas outside the cells (called extracellular spaces). Condensation nuclei (chemicals, proteins and bacteria that ice will form around) are found throughout the extracellular spaces, such as the digestive, circulatory and lymphatic systems and skin tissues.

Wood frog photo from River Bend Nature Center

Frog skin, being so moist, begins to freeze as soon as the frog’s surroundings do. As the frogs start to freeze, the heart keeps beating, distributing glycerol and glucose around the body, and these chemicals move into the cells. This allows most water to leave the cells and freeze in the extracellular spaces, while the remaining water inside the cells remains unfrozen. Glycerol (sugar alcohol) and glucose (sugar) keep some water in the cells, but the solution freezes at a much lower temperature than before, like salt makes water freeze at a lower temp on the road. These chemicals, called cryoprotectors, also provide ready energy that doesn’t require oxygen, since the blood freezes also. Glycerol is chemically related to ethylene glycol, which we use as antifreeze in our cars. While ethylene glycol is poisonous, glycerol is not.

As freezing continues, the heart stops, breathing stops, and brain activity most likely stops. The frogs are technically dead, though clinical death is an irreversible state, and frog freezing is quite reversible.

Frogs can freeze down to -15ºC (5ºF), and even lower in northern parts of their range. Up to 80% of the water in their bodies can turn to ice. They don’t always survive – it can get too cold. Some can only survive freezing for short periods of time (hours), while others can tolerate weeks as frogcicles.

Spring peeper photo from Ohio Frog & Toad Calling survey

As temperatures warm in the spring, the frogs begin to thaw, and heartbeat, breathing and muscle movement start again spontaneously. About 12 hours after thawing, the frogs have mostly recovered and resume normal frog behavior (croaking, eating, mating, singing songs about being green, and searching for princesses). They can take first advantage of freshly-thawed vernal pools, and begin mating activities even before all the ice melts.

In the spring and summer, frogs croak to attract a mate. In the winter, some frogs “croak” to survive.

For more information:
Laboratory for Ecophysiological Cryobiology: Wood Frog Freezing Survival
Nature North: Frozen Alive
Nova Ask the Expert: Frozen Frogs
National Geographic Anti-freeze-Like Blood

Winter Solstice

December 21, Sunday, 5:00-9:00 PM

The longest night of the year is upon us! Will the sun ever return?

Come out to Metea County Park for a night of education and celebration on Winter Solstice evening to learn about different cultures’ view of the solstice, celestial origins of Christmas traditions, light a fire and bang a drum!

We’ll start off with a hike, so dress for the weather! Then we’ll come inside the Nature Center to warm up, listen to a live version of the popular NIPR radio show “Folk Tales” with Julia Meek and Jill Mozena. The Sophia’s Portico Drummers will wrap up the evening with word and song.

Admission is $5 per person, kids 6 and under are free. For more info, call 449-3777.

Take a Hike! Tracks in the Snow

December 13, Saturday, 11 AM

Winter is the perfect time to look for animal tracks. Without the overabundance of greenery, tracks really stick out. And if there’s snow, that’s even better!

Join naturalist Rachel Rossiter Smith for a hike to look for these animal clues and more. Dress for the weather.

Minimum 5 registered 5 days in advance – call 449-3777. $2.00 per person.

Wilderness Women (formerly Girls in Boots) - Give Me Shelter!

December 13, Saturday, 3:00-5:00 PM

Wilderness Women is a program designed for women and young ladies from about 12 years and up to become more self sufficient in the outdoors and develop an environmental consciousness all while gaining skills and knowledge. Each meeting includes a hike, an activity and a snack.

In this cold month, it is important to know how to keep warm. We’ll explore different types of shelter and then we’ll take a hike and make one.

Pre-registration required by December 8, call 449-3777.

Preschool Morning Adventure – Snow

December 11, Thursday, 10:00 AM

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Bring your preschooler to Metea County Park and learn about that cold stuff. Can we make snow inside the nature center? How is ice cream made? Come and have fun! We will read a book, sing songs, make a craft, eat homemade ice cream, and learn all about snow!

$3.00 per child, $2.00 per adult partner (partner required). Please pre-register by December 8 by calling 449-3777 or emailing kharding@allencountyparks.org. Minimum of 5 participants for the program to run.