WindWolves and Conservancy

FARMS Program | Kern County | March 5, 2019

Participating Schools
Independence High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
West High School
Frontier High School

We arrived at WindWolves Preserve where we were greeted and introduced to a large amount of staff from the NRCS as well as the WindWolves Preserve Rangers. They shared their educational and career journeys with the students. Then, we split into 3 groups to rotate through the activities including Restoration Activity, Range Health/Plant ID Walk, and Riparian Ecology/Insect ID. Students loved all three stations!

As part of the Restoration Activity, students were planting trees. The staff gave an example of the depth of the whole needed as well as the most efficient way to get it done. The students watched intently and went straight to work! They worked so hard. Gabriel, a student from West High School, has a broken hand and was due to get his cast off that afternoon. He was so taken with the work that needed to be completed, he dug the hole with his casted hand! He did an amazing job with the Post Hole Digger considering he had a broken hand!

Gabriel Getting the Job Done

After our Restoration Activity, it was time to move stations, we took a walk with NRCS Rangeland Management Specialist, Alex Hepler. He walked us through the different types of grasses and vegetation found at WindWolves. He also shared how you can gauge the health of the rangeland by what is growing and flowering at any given time. We were given an identification guide and were tasked with labeling the different species of grasses seen. We found Bermuda Grass, Saltbush, and Filaree to name a few.

As we progressed to the next station it was time to move from identifying grasses to identifying stream invertebrates., students loved looking for these hidden treasures. Students had the opportunity to dig in the water and search for the different species. These different species are pollution sensitive gauging the health of the watershed.

Students were also given an opportunity to learn about the different species of bees. They were able to take nets and catch different insects out in the grasslands. Students loved each and every activity at this field day, but most of all connecting with the staff at WindWolves and the NRCS.

What’s the Buzz About?

FARMS Advanced | Kern County | February 27, 2019

Participating Schools
Frontier High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
Independence High School

We had been waiting all year for this! It was Apiology day! The almond trees were in bloom and it was time to hear and experience the honeybee industry. Jimmy Gardner of United Honeybees allowed us to come and experience the world of bees with him.

We started with conversations about the lifecycle of the bee and the honey bee business. Bees have a community and they are like any other animal. They need to be fed, watered and cared for. We studied the facts of the honeybee.

Here are some facts that shocked students:

  • Bees are the only insect in the world that makes food that humans eat.
  • Honeybees pollinate $15 billion of crops every year
  • Honey has natural preservatives so bacteria can’t grow in it
  • 85% of plants exist because of bees
  • 1/3 of all the food we eat depends on pollinators
  • More than 100 types of crops are pollinated by bees in the US – including clover and alfalfa that feed our cows
  • Beekeeping has a migration route throughout the US. Their timing is critical and weather dependent.

After we discussed the facts of bees and the benefits of honey, we went out to experience them first hand!

We walked and did exactly what Jimmy Gardner does on the daily. The feeling of the wind produced from the bees wings as they land on your hood is a feeling that you can’t explain. Your first reaction is to swat them, but then you remember that you are safe in the suit. You see and hear them working hard to care for their queen. We were able to label the drone bees versus the worker bees. Then we found her! We found the Queen!

It was a great day! Thank you for hosting us, Redhouse Beef. Thank you for teaching us, United Honeybees!

Agri-Tourism and Science

FARMS Program | Kern County | February 5, 2019

Participating Schools
Independence High School
Bakersfield Christian High School
West High School
Frontier High School
Ridgeview High School

Summary of the Day
There is no better place to study Agri-Tourism than at Murray Family Farms. Students have traveled here throughout their childhood to go to the maze, pick pumpkins in the fall or berries in the summer. This trip, they learned the other side of Murray Family Farms.

Steve Murray greeted us on this cold February day with a coffee in hand showing us around his pride and joy – Murray Family Farms. It was easily the most beautiful day we have had in Kern County. Steve shared his extensive journey and through perseverance and incredible opportunities he was able to land his dream.

Learning the History

We then walked through the many commodities grown on site. We learned about apples and stone fruit first. We talked about water and the effects on farming. We talked about grafting and the science behind the different types of grafting which allowed them to create unique fruit for consumers.

We then went up to the small hill for the students to jump. When you are at Murray Family Farms, you must take a jump on their massive bouncing bubble! While some may ask, “What does this have to do with Ag?” It has a lot to do with Agri-Tourism. Families come to make a memory through picking their own fruit and every now and then you have to get your wiggles out.

Now back to learning! We have a first-hand look at grafting from Steve’s son, Steven. Steven shared his journey and his many accomplishments including speaking 7 different languages! He shared how this diversity helped him. He showed us the different ways to graft and discussed the pros and cons of each as well.

Heading out to our picnic lunch we had to taste the fruits which is a favorite past time. The Pomelo’s tested like fresh lime-aid! We loaded up for our trek to Steve’s favorite spot on the farm.

We had a great lunch while learning about the history of the American Indian tribes who lived right where we sat. The unique history and the learning that took place all while taking in the breathtaking views from this spot. It was a beautiful way to experience Ag.