The Naturalist Course is at Class 8 of 10, 03-29-19

We’re already in week 8 of the 10-week Certified California Naturalist course. Wow!  Next week is the final exam, and the week after that is graduation. Seems like the time just flew by!

The speaker today was Christy Berger who did a presentation on Crows and Other Corvids.  She’s with the Heron and Egret Rescue but has a live rescued crow and does speaking engagements on corvids throughout the area, so we’re having her do her crow thing today and then come back for the summer class to talk about the herons and egrets (because that’s when those birds are nesting and having babies.) she brought her crow Onyx with her. Onyx has an eye condition he’s had since birth so there’s a white film over his eyes all the time, and he’s very sensitive to different kinds of light. Christy gave her talk with a PowerPoint presentation, then had us turn on the room lights and turn off the projector before she brought Onyx out for us to see.  He spent most of the time trying to get his jesses off. Hah!

Christy’s talk focused mostly on crows and ravens, but also included a smattering of facts about different kinds of native corvids such as the endemic Yellow-Billed Magpie and California Scrub Jay.  She talked for about 2 hours, and then the class took a break.

CLICK HERE for the album of photos.

When everyone came back from the break three of the students presented their capstone projects. Michele Sheehan did one on the interpretive signs she created for the Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek, CA.  Then Fran Bowman did a presentation on the upgrade of an exhibit she’s doing for the Cache Creek Nature Preserve. They have a mastodon fossil (part of a pelvis and a tusk) and she’s updating the interpretive information on it.  Lastly, Rebecca Rubio-Aliaga did a presentation on the monitoring of Bluebird Boxes she’s doing for Napa-Solano Audubon… They were incredible.  I am so proud of the work they’re doing outside of class!

We also took a moment to thank Roxanne (who had brought candy, grapes and mandarin oranges to share with the class) for all the help she’s given us during the classes and field trips.  We gave her the plaque I’d made and a small felted fox.  She was very touched by the gesture.

Then Bill did his presentation on the last chapter of our textbook, one on “Energy and Global Environmental Issues”. We call it the “sad chapter” because it talks about all of the yucky stuff the environment has to deal with: air and water pollution, fragmentation, fracking, habitat degradation, neo-nic and Round-Up poisons, etc. Bill tried to rush through, hoping we’d get in some species ID time, but he finished right at 4:00 pm. Class over.  As I mentioned, next week is the final exam and the week after that is graduation. The students all decided they’d like to do a potluck for that day, so that should be fun!  #CalNat

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Mary K. Hanson is a breast cancer survivor who, at age 61, took coursework to become a Certified California Naturalist. The author of “The Chubby Woman’s Walkabout”™ blog, Ms. Hanson has also written nature-based feature articles published in regional newspapers, authored over ten books, including her "Cool Stuff Along the American" series of guide books, and has had her photographs featured in books, articles, calendars, on the American River Parkway Foundation’s Instagram stream, and even the White House blog. This year Ms. Hanson is helping to launch and teach a new Certified California Naturalist course through Tuleyome, in partnership with the University of California and the Woodland Library, so members of the public can themselves become certified as naturalists in the state. All of the photos seen on her website were taken by Ms. Hanson herself (unless noted otherwise) with moderate- to low-end photographic equipment more easily affordable to the everyday nature enthusiast. She also occasionally leads photo-walks through the American River Bend Park for the public and is sometimes available for public speaking.