I got into Woodland around 10:00 am, so I went over to The Nugget and got some of their premade deli sandwiches and muffins to share with the students. Roxane had a similar idea and brought a box of cookies and some homemade Rice Krispies Squares. She makes hers with cinnamon, so they were extra yummy. She also brought 10X “loops” (small magnifying glasses) for all of the students so they could bring them out into the field with them tomorrow. That was soooo nice of her!
Our guest speaker was Robyn from the River Otter Ecology Project. He had done a lecture for the winter class earlier this year and we really enjoy having him come up. He works primarily in the Bay Area, but he does a lot of outreach outside San Francisco County. He’s a quiet, kind of retiring man, until he’s talking about the otters. Then his passion really shows through. One of the thing he pushes for is the citizen science projects his organization is doing all over California: Otter Spotters, https://riverotterecology.org/otter-spotter-community-based-science/. If you see otters, their scats or their slides, you take photos and then load them up on the otter-spotter site. That way, the organization can create maps of where the otters are in the state and how many people are seeing them.
This was the class when we did the final exam quiz, what we call our “Your Naturalist Knowledge EcoBlitz Game”. We split the students up into teams, and they answer questions based on what we taught them throughout the entire length of the course. Whichever teams ends up with the most correct answer wins prize bags worth over $400. This time around we had a relatively small class, so we broke them out into two teams: the Murderous Crows and the Eager Estivators. The Estivators were ahead through most of the game, but then the Crows pulled out in front with their final lightning round of questions.
This class brings out the
competitive spirit in otherwise low-key docile students, and also lets the quieter
students shine when it’s their turn to answer a question for their team. The energy in the room gets so high,
especially toward the end, that everyone is exhausted by the end of it. Hah!
Around 11 o’clock, my co-instructor Bill Grabert and I took all of our stuff over to the library to set up for the Certified California Naturalist class, and our guest speaker arrived around the same time: Jenny Papka of Native Bird Connections. She’d done a lecture for our winter class earlier this year so she kind of knew the drill. She set up her bird stuff while we finished setting up the classroom.
Jenny brought a Peregrine Falcon, a Swainson’s Hawk and her Eurasian Eagle Owl with her this time. Since she was ready to go when the students arrived, we just let her go first and did our announcements when she was finished. We also to a break when she was done, so the students could get photos of the owl and the props Jenny had brought with her.
About halfway through Jenny’s presentation, our volunteer Roxanne Moger arrived with a box of bird’s nests she’d gotten from a retired teacher, and a HUGE live sphinx moth caterpillar in a jar. She’d been cutting down some grape vines for her neighbor and found the caterpillar on them. Super cool.
It kind of looked like a tomato hornworm, but was gray instead of green and had a eye-spot on its rump. I’m not sure but I think it’s the caterpillar of an Achemon Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha achemon). They’re the kind of caterpillar that pupates underground, though, so Roxanne will have to put a couple of inches of dirt in the bottom of the jar, so the caterpillar can bury itself when it’s ready. It might overwinter under the dirt, so we may not be able to see it until next year…
After the break, Bill did the chapter on forest management, and I did a module on bird species identification.
Greg Ira, the UC California Naturalist Program Coordinator, came to the graduation of our winter 2019 #CalNat class on Friday, and brought Mark Bell, the Vice Provost for Statewide Programs, and Sarah Angulo, the Community Education Specialist from the university with him.
We also had some other special guests: a pair of newborn kittens brought in by our student, Fran Bowman. Fran is fostering the kittens which, at this stage, have to be fed every three hours. We let her bring them into the class and feed them during the break – and they got a LOT of attention. Hah!
We had Greg and Mark speak a little bit first on the UC Certified California Naturalist program, and then had the students who hadn’t presented their capstone projects already do their presentations.
Ten students presented their capstones, including a 2-person team. I was impressed by the work they’d all done.