In 2013, trained docent volunteers facilitated nature experiences for over 1800 young people during school field trips. Docents also helped with special events, propagated thousands of native plants, worked on creative projects, tended the native plant garden, and more. You too can become a member of our top-notch Docent Team by attending the 2014 Docent Training Program, starting on January 22. Docent Training is fun and interesting, with local experts providing an inside look at the wetlands of Watsonville, including the ecology, history, and restoration of the wetlands. This 7-week program includes Wednesday evening presentations and Saturday morning field trips. While it is not a requirement, we would love to add some bilingual docents to our team. For additional information or to enroll, contact Kathy Fieberling at email@example.com or 831-345-1226. Click to learn more.
Wetlands Stewards Middle School Watershed Program
by Board of Directors Member Lou Rose
I accompanied twenty-four children — 6th, 7th, and 8th graders from Lakeview Middle School — and Watsonville Wetlands Watch Environmental Education Specialist Adrienne Frisbee on an after-school trip to Elkhorn Slough, as a part of our Wetland Stewards Middle School Program that focuses on watershed exploration. Immediately after disembarking from the school bus at the South Harbor, Moss Landing, we were cheerfully greeted by Capt. Yohn and Naturalist Laura. Everyone donned life jackets and boarded a flat-bottomed boat, the Elkhorn Slough Safari, and we were off on an exciting adventure through the harbor, under the Hwy. 1 bridge, and well up into the Elkhorn Slough.
It was a glorious day — crisply cool in the warm sun. The children were excited, yet well behaved. They participated eagerly in observing and counting the wildlife — with coaching by the captain and naturalist. Before leaving the harbor, we had spotted literally tons of sea lions and sea otters — up close and personal. In total we spotted 35 different bird species, 70 sea otters, 157 sea lions, and 300 harbor seals! I’m not kidding. It was an amazing day and along the way we learned about wildlife feeding, mating and migrating — and the impact that humans have had on these creatures, and what we can do about that. Click here to read the entire article.
Presentation — Living with
On Thursday, Jan. 16, the Watsonville Wetlands Watch is hosting wild cat conservationist and naturalist Zara McDonald, Executive Director of Felidae Conservation Fund, who will give a presentation about mountain lions and the work currently underway to study and protect them. These keystone predators (also called pumas or cougars) play a critical role in maintaining the health and biodiversity of our ecosystems. However, expansion of human populations is increasing encounters, conflicts, and local community tension. Zara discusses mountain lion ecology and history, the challenges of sharing the habitat with mountain lions, and offers essential tips for living and recreating without fear in puma habitat.
From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Fitz Educational Resource Center, at the top of the Pajaro Valley High School campus in Watsonville. Map/directions. Admission is free but you must reserve a seat by contacting Kathy Fieberling at 831-345-1226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebrating our Volunteers
Wetland Stewards, standing, were applauded by party goers.
In early December, 90+ people attended the 2013 Volunteer Appreciation Celebration at the Cypress House in Pajaro Dunes. The evening began with dinner, partly catered by volunteer chef and cooking instructor Rebecca Mastoris and her students. The volunteers and their guests ate and enjoyed lively conversation in the lovely room made even more inviting by a roaring fire and the strings of lights hung by the Wetland Stewards.
The evening’s program included a discussion of the accomplishments and future goals of the Watsonville Wetlands Watch by Board of Directors President Debbie Diersch. Program Directors Jonathan Pilch and Noelle Antolin then talked about the accomplishments of the Restoration and Education programs, with an emphasis on the contributions made by volunteers. The evening concluded with a surprise performance, donated by Patricia Rodriguez, by the stellar Cabrillo Chorale. One attendee commented that the most emotional part of the evening was listening to the beautiful music of the Chorale while watching the revolving slideshow of volunteers engaged in their tasks and putting their hearts into service.
In 2013, volunteers turned out in larger numbers and contributed more in individual effort than in any previous years. The number of field trips doubled from the year before, while the number of docents stayed steady. The number of plants propagated by our Friday propagation group, the Prolific Propagators, reached nearly 20,000. We hosted our largest event to date, the Pajaro Valley Native Plant and Backyard Habitat Festival, mostly with the help of volunteers. And this is just the beginning of what volunteers have done for us this year. For all of this, we are eternally grateful.
Thank You Volunteers for all of your contributions to the wetlands, the young people, the animals, the community, and to the Watsonville Wetlands Watch!
Celebrate World Wetlands Day!
On Saturday, Feb. 1 from 9 a.m. to noon, we invite you to join us as we celebrate World Wetlands Day by planting native wetland plants at a restoration site at Bay Breeze. This community volunteer event is co-sponsored with the City of Watsonville. Meet at the Landmark Elementary School parking lot located on 235 Ohlone Parkway (off Harkins Slough Rd) in Watsonville. Look for the restoration signs; we will walk to the trail site as a group. Gloves, tools, and snacks will be provided, and there will be a nature walk.
4th Saturday Restoration Day
We invite you to help restore wetland habitat by planting native plants and removing exotic invasive plants as part of our monthly community work day on Jan. 25. We will work from 9 a.m. until noon, and we always make time for birding or a short hike around the wetlands. We supply the gloves, tools, and a snack. Meet at our Fitz Wetlands Educational Resource Center (map/directions). If you have questions, please contact Mary Paul at email@example.com or 831-566-4938.
Support Our Work
You can help us introduce kids to the importance and wonder of the wetlands. Contribute online by going to our website; or by sending a donation in the mail to WWW, P.O. Box 1239, Freedom, CA 95019. Contributions are tax-deductible in accordance with IRS rules for non-profit organizations and are greatly appreciated.
Watsonville Wetlands Watch advocates for wetland issues, educates elementary, middle, and high school students, restores degraded habitats, preserves what remains whole, and teaches appreciation for the unique beauty and life of the Pajaro Valley wetlands. In cooperation with numerous other agencies, we support studies of and planning for these sites.