An adventure across Cache Creek

Woodland High School at Capay Open Space Park
SLEWS Program | Sacramento Valley | January 29, 2020

Participating School
Woodland High School

Partners/Landowners
Yolo County Resource Conservation District
Cache Creek Conservancy

Mentors
Grace Auringer, Technician, Genomic Variation Lab
Mikayla Peterson, Outreach & Watershed Education Specialist, Cache Creek Conservancy
Matt Clement, Facilities Steward, Center for Land-Based Learning
Matt Young, Fish Biologist, California Water Science Center, USGS

Summary of the Day
Our first morning in Capay Open Space Park was quick as we were trying to beat the heat – 700 beehives were near our planting area and we wanted to get as much done as we could while the bees were still relatively cold and inactive! After a game of Where the Wind Blows, we grabbed tools and headed down to Cache Creek.

To avoid walking by these 700 beehives, crossing the creek was our best option. Though the creek was shallow, it wasn’t shallow enough to make it across in our mudboots. Enter: the Argo. An amphibious ATV that works on land and water! Students donned PFDs and were ferried across in groups by Phil Zoucha of Cache Creek Conservancy.

Once everyone was across, we gathered for a quick refresher on plug planting. Students didn’t need much instruction as this was an activity we did on our first Field Day. Mentor groups each tackled a marked section and set to work plug planting – scraping away excess vegetation, “dibbling” a hole, inserting the native plant plug, and pinching the native soil over the top. Woodland High students really seem to take pride in being hard workers, and did a great job staying on task, checking the quality of their work, and helping their peers. As mentor groups finished sections, they moved to unplanted areas and even started makeshift “mulching” the plugs that were already done with the vegetation they scraped away. We planted all 1200 plugs in no time.

Before argo-ing back to the other side, we were able to spot some cool wildlife including a kingfisher, and the highlight of the day – a bird called a California Thrasher. While planting, students noticed many invertebrates including millipedes, worms, and a Jerusalem Cricket!

Our next task of the day was seeding. Depending on who you talk to in the RCD, you may hear this technique called “dinner plates” or “chia pets”. The basic technique is: clear a patch of soil (taking care to avoid native perennial grasses!), break up the soil, sprinkle seeds on top so they land about 1” apart, stir up the soil, and pack it back down. Mentor groups took on different areas of the park and planted seeds until lunchtime. Tanya Meyer of Yolo County RCD estimated we put about a pound of native seeds in the ground when all was said and done!

After lunch it was time for a SLEWS classic – mentor interviews. Sitting down and having a guided conversation with mentors about their education and career paths hopefully gets them thinking about what they may accomplish in their own lives. Students asked great questions including asking about mentor’s favorite plants, favorite college experiences, and what a “researcher” does exactly – and what they have figured out through science.

After this, students found space to sit by themselves and write and draw to reflect on the day. I saw some California Thrashers and well-planted plugs among the drawings!

With our “one word to describe the day” closing circle, popular words were “fun!” and “dibble!”. And I for one am very relieved to report we made it the whole day without a single bee sting!

Trout and Salmon, Oh My!

FARMS Leadership | Central Valley Central & South | Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Location of Field Day:
California Department of Fish & WildLife – San Joaquin Hatchery – 17372 Brook Trout Drive, Friant, CA 93626

Field Day Host(s) and Mentors:
William Branch
Cheryl Moxley
Brian Erlandsen

Theme:
Aquaculture and Natural Resources

Summary of the Day:
Students from Patino High School, Sunnyside High School, Kerman High School, Reedley High School and Hanford West High School met on Wednesday, January 29th at The San Joaquin Hatchery of California Department of Fish & Wildlife. Students met and practiced an introduction and thank you practice for use in the day for introducing our hosts. We were joined by Cheryl Moxley who runs the FINS Program. The FINS Program is an interpretive nature trail designed to teach children the life cycle of trout. Given the slightly older nature of our group, she covered other more age-appropriate information such as native plants, grant funding information, and interpretive design. Next, students rotated between two programs with lunch provided by FARMS to split up these two rotations. The first was SCARF: A salmon restoration project for the San Joaquin River. This covered topics such as conservation, endangered species, and the science behind genetic matrixing and testing. Students fed these fish and also checked for the success rate of the tagged fish by using the scanner provided. Finally the SJH: The hatchery itself, where we discussed what it takes to raise fish, plant it out, and deal with such things as water quality, biosecurity, and fish health. At the end of the day, students presented thank you’s to all of our hosts. We had a really enjoyable hands-on day. We were very impressed with what the state of California does for our natural resources. Thank you again, William, Cherly, Brian and your entire team.

Got GOATS?

FARMS Advanced Program | Kern County | Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Location of Field Day:
Summerhill Dairy
3755 S Sixth Ave, Hanford, CA 93230
 

Field Day Host:
Hannah Wilgenburg- Business and Sales Representative 

Summary of the Day: On Wednesday, January 28, 2020, the Kern County FARMS Advanced Program from McFarland High School started their Advanced year visiting 2,600 dairy goats at Summerhill Dairy. Students first met in the library at McFarland high school enjoying breakfast and practicing introductions for the day. The students were given a KWL worksheet where they will fill out what they know and what they would want to know about the Summerhill Dairy.

The group began the tour at the Dairy with Hannah Wilgenburg that houses 2,600 head of dairy goats of five different breeds that are; Saanen, Nubian, Alpine, Toggenburg and La Manchas. They all have their own certain characteristics from size, appearance and color. We started off getting to see the carousel milking parlor that is able to hold 84 dairy goats at a time that get milked every morning and night. Its the goats favorite part of the day.

We next walked through the barns where all the goats were housed and got to see how they are properly fed. These dairy goats are kept on a well balanced diet including a mixture of grain to help them with their production of milk and also offered roughage such as alfalfa. The students kept asking great questions left and right on everything you could imagine on managing a herd of dairy goats.

The students then got the opportunity to try fresh goat milk from the Summer-hill goat dairy. It was delicious! We then gathered some pictures out front of the beautiful facility of Summerhill Dairy. Thank you again Summerhill Dairy for a Goatastic day!