A Day of Reciprocity

SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | February 17th, 2022

Location of the Field Day:
The Maples – CLBL Headquarters

Partners/Landowners:
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Point Blue Conservation Science
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
The Maples

Mentors:
Beth DelReal
Amber Rosen
Jeanne Wirka
Alex Lintner

Accomplishments: Planted 145 container plants with gopher baskets and installed ~1500 feet of irrigation line with emitters for each plant.

Summary of the Day:
For the first time this season we had students at The Maples, the Center for Land-Based Learning Headquarters, for a planting filled field day! Beginning with a discussion surrounding the act of reciprocity students ate breakfast and discussed how sharing food related to the restoration project we were about to complete.

Over the course of the day students reflected upon their impact on the environment by recognizing the peoples’ whose land we were working on (Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation) and discussing the dangers of a single perspective. Following the introduction to the space students laid out irrigation line and discussed the impacts properly installed drip irrigation can have on the survival of a plant.

Planting 145 container plants with gopher baskets and approximately 1500 feet of irrigation students got to see the impact of their efforts. Rounding out the day with a learning activity about ecosystems students further reflected on what they had learned and how they were positively impacting the environment.

Thanks to everyone for their contributions! A special thanks to Yolo RCD who helped with the implementation plan and took care of our plants before the long awaited planting day. Additonal thanks to NRCS and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation whose support makes this project possible.

The Mighty Mentors of SLEWS

SLEWS Program | Central Valley | January 27th, 2022

Location of the Field Day:
The Maples

Partners/Landowners:
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Point Blue Conservation Science
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

Mentors/Volunteers:
Jeanne Wirka, Alex Lintner, Beth DelReal, Heather Lyon, Morgan Caudill, Anna Tolle, Ric Murphy, Sara Lipschutz, Brandi Murphy, Nick Gallagher, Joaquin Pastrana, Grace Ferguson, Amy Williams, and Natalia (SLEWS Intern!)

Accomplishments: 12 native grasses and 86 shrubs/sub-shrubs planted with tubex, bamboo stakes, and fully mulched! 800 feet of drip irrigation installed.

Summary of the Day:
A total of 14 SLEWS mentors and volunteers came together to complete the east hedgerow on The Maples property. Despite the absence of students, we were able to kick off this field day “test run” in the typical SLEWS fashion. Volunteers got the opportunity to engage in a project from start to finish, planting a total of 98 plants complete with drip irrigation, mulch, gopher baskets, tubex, and bamboo stakes. Preparing for the day students return to the field in February, mentors had the opportunity to ask clarifying questions, get to know the partners they would be working with, and of course enjoy the famous SLEWS burritos at the end of the day rewarding all the hard work they had completed.

Thanks to everyone for their contributions! A special thanks to Yolo RCD who helped with the implementation plan and took care of our plants before the long awaited planting day. Additional thanks to NRCS and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation whose support makes this project possible.

A hybrid SLEWS Field Day

Woodland High School at the Maples
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | April 22, 2021

Summary of the Day
For weeks now, I have been working with Woodland High School teacher Jerry Delsol to plan a virtual SLEWS field day of sorts for his students. We previously coordinated for him to attend one of our volunteer habitat restoration SLEWS Field Days in December (read more here), which he broadcast live to his students back in the classroom. Students were able to interact with our adult volunteers, see the site, and even ask questions of their own! 

We planned to do something similar at our headquarters at the Maples in Woodland, focusing more on the restoration and wildlife monitoring plans being implemented onsite. Some of his students were even part of the class that participated in our first year of SLEWS at the Maples (blog posts here and here!), so they’d be able to see how much the native habitat they planted has grown! When I met with Mr. Delsol the week prior to the field trip, I was thrilled to hear that he’d be able to bring a small group of students to the field day to participate in-person, while still broadcasting live to students attending school from home.

Students arrived bright and early on Thursday morning, meeting us at the “bioswale” their class created last SLEWS season. This SLEWS project included transforming a stormwater retention basin into viable habitat. I introduced the project to the class, and showed the next phase of the project (an adjacent hedgerow), which volunteers planted this past winter. Then we moved to the side of the bioswale to a wildlife monitoring camera set up by Center for Land-Based Learning’s Ecologist Jeanne Wirka. Jeanne introduced herself and her work at the Maples, where she is currently gathering baseline data on the wildlife and pollinators present. She’s already begun getting snapshots of wildlife from the motion-activated camera facing the hedgerow – including a coyote whose scat one student spotted! 

After meeting Jeanne, students split into three groups to rotate between different activities.

I led students in a native plant identification workshop and shared about how scientists press plants to create herbariums, preserved collections of plants in an area. Students then collected clippings of plants in the hedgerow to create plant pressings of their very own. Some of the species identified included California poppies, lupines, common fiddleneck, and yarrow.

Jeanne taught students about cavity nesting birds (and why it is difficult for them to find nesting habitat) before showing each group how to install a bluebird nest box on the Maples campus. They looked at nest boxes installed a few weeks ago by Yolo County Audubon, and even found an egg in one of them!

Mr. Delsol led a soil sampling activity in the nearby ag fields, looking at soil types and sampling the compost as well.

Meanwhile, Mr. Delsol’s student teacher engaged with students attending the livestream by asking them questions and leading them through the activities so they were active participants. Though this was a very quick field day (we only had 1 hour!) it was amazing to finally engage with students in-person.