Pioneer plants plenty of plugs

Pioneer High School at Yanci Ranch
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | February 28, 2020

Participating School
Pioneer High School

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Rominger Brothers

Mentors
Dominic Carrillo, Development Associate, Center for Land-Based Learning
Elaine Swiedler, California Farm Academy Apprenticeship Program Coordinator, Center for Land-Based Learning
Gina Radieve, Environmental Scientist, California Department of Water Resources
Jen Metes, Conservation Programs Administrator, The Freshwater Trust

Summary of the Day
This SLEWS season, as you may recall, we had two schools working at the Yanci Ranch project site – Grant Union High School in Sacramento and Pioneer High School in Woodland. Because the ground was too dry to plug plant on Grant Union’s last day, they instead finished planting container plants and shored up the irrigation system so it would be able to moisten the soil for Pioneer students to complete the plug planting portion. Pioneer students arrived to softer soil, and ready to plant these plugs!

After a game of PVC golf, Amy Williams showed students what our restoration work would look like today. The goal will be planting some more native species including sunflower, yarrow, gumplant, goldenrod and milkweed – except this time, instead of planting plants in plastic container pots, these “plug” plants come in a tray, and are so small that planting them just requires poking a hole with a “dibble” and pinching the native soil over the top. At each marked spot, students would plant 4 plug plants, and install a protective tube secured by a stake around each to. To finish, students would apply a thick layer of straw mulch around the tubes to prevent weeds from outcompeting the native species.
Mentor groups divided along the line to conquer this project, working in pairs to plug plant, install tubes, and mulch. As they worked, students noticed several ant nests in the area and even found a tree frog!

After lunch and enjoying SLEWS-themed cupcakes, we hiked up to the top of a nearby hill for 360 degree views of Yanci Ranch. We saw our project site, earlier phases of the project that connect to our piece to create corridors for wildlife, and a beautiful view of the hills and the valley below. After taking the view in, students had time to create a thank you card for someone who made their SLEWS experience possible – be it a teacher, mentor, restoration partner, landowner, funder, or someone else. As students were working, I found an owl pellet and deer skull, both of which I showed to students during closing circle. As we finished the day, we reminisced on past field days and discussed our favorite moments of SLEWS. Many students enjoyed planting, the feeling of teamwork, visiting the earlier phases of the project, and being on top of the hill, but one student encouraged us all to enjoy the current moment with her one word answer, “now”.

Advocating for Future Generations

FARMS Leadership | Central Valley South | Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Location of Field Day:
Sequoia Riverland Trust
Dry Creek Preserve
35220 Dry Creek Dr, 35220 Dry Creek Dr, Woodlake, CA 93286

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors: 
Bud Darwin, Education and Volunteer Director
Sam Weiser, Education Coordinator

Upon arrival, students met and interviewed Bud Darwin & Sam Weiser with Sequoia Riverland Trust. The students introduced Bud and Sam to the group and our day started. Students visited the Native Plant Nursery that is on-site.  They were able to see the different plants and shrubs that were grown there and why it is good to plant them at home to encourage pollination at their homes. Dry Creek Preserve is a 152-acre former gravel quarry located just northwest of Lemon Cove, CA in the town of Woodlake, CA.  The students were able to use iPads and their cell phones with the iNaturalist App. Students could upload pictures of anything they could find and the app community would then help identify what was found. Students did this on the 2-mile hike we took around the preserve. Students also learned how the combination of biological and environmental conditions were important to the local farmers who grazed cattle on this very land.  Students really enjoyed being able to bring the classroom, technology and electronics outdoors. Following the hike, we had lunch and de-briefed on the day. Bud & Sam shared volunteer opportunities with our students and the importance of finding something you enjoy doing when you grow up so you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Thank you for a terrific field day Sequoia Riverlands Trust!

Merging Businesses

Gar Bennett – Labor in the Agriculture Industry

FARMS Advanced Leadership Program | Central Valley | Friday, February 21, 2020

Location of Field Day:
Gar Bennett 8246 Crawford Ave, Reedley, CA 93654

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
Ralph Rendon, Chief Personnel Officer of Gar Bennett

Summary of the Day:

Before students even set foot onto the GAR Bennett Property in Reedley they completed a Pro-Scan Survey. The ProScan Survey is an instrument designed by Professional DynaMetric Programs, Inc. (PDP) to measure the major aspects of self-perception, including an individual’s basic behavior, reaction to environment, and predictable behavior. GAR uses this survey on every employee that is hired so when they are hired they are aware of their behavior and if they would be a good fit for the company and other employees to work with.

Each student was able to go through their completed results with Ralph explaining each and every aspect of the survey. The students were blown away by how it accurately predicted their behavior.

After all of the students studied their test results we broke for a quick Lunch break. After lunch we had a roundtable question and answer session with Mr. Rendon. He talked about his job as it relates to GAR and about the Business Merging with Bennett Irrigation. He went on to say they now are a one-stop-shop for the farmers they work with and it has expanded to the irrigation side of things. Congratulations GAR Bennett and Thank You for being such a great supporter of the FARMS Leadership Program.