A 9th Grade student from Pajaro Valley High School
identifies aquatic invertebrates.
Now that the school year is well underway, the Wetlands Watch Education Department has been very busy. Now expanded to 12 high school mentors, each academic quarter the Wetland Steward Program gives wetlands nature experiences to students at three elementary schools and one middle school by providing a field trip for each school each week. Even more impressive, the Educators just completed Pajaro Valley High School Freshman Aquatic Invertebrate Field Trips, where they introduced every freshman student at PVHS to the wetlands and our educational programs. Over 300 freshmen attended field trips to Harkins Slough to make qualitative water quality measurements by sampling, collecting, and identifying aquatic invertebrates. The field trips were made possible with the help of hard-working docent volunteers and tireless on-call educators. If you are interested in joining in on future education field trips as a volunteer, feel free to contact Kathy Fieberling at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become a Docent — Training Starts in January
Docent Bob Culbertson with a student
Our 2016 Docent Training Program begins on January 20. Docent training is a fun and interesting way to learn about the natural and cultural history of the wetlands from experts, and to receive training for becoming a field trip facilitator. These interactive sessions include Wednesday evening presentations and Saturday morning field trips, visiting sites not normally seen by the public. Join our dedicated team of trained docent volunteers who help with field trips, lead tours, participate in special events, work in the greenhouse and native plant demonstration garden, conduct water monitoring, and much, much more. For more information, contact Kathy Fieberling at email@example.com, 831-345-1226, or click here.
Changing Role for Education Director
Noelle Antolin leading a field trip
Noelle Antolin has stepped down from her longtime role as Education Director. Noelle has been instrumental to the success of Wetlands Watch’s education work by helping to create and promote innovative and effective wetlands educational programming for students, elementary school through university. When Noelle started in 2007, the Watch’s education goal was primarily to provide wetlands environmental education curriculum and resources to Pajaro Valley teachers. Noelle, though, saw the potential of the fledgling Wetland Stewards program and promoted the idea of providing direct educational programming to the schools. She built relationship with the teachers, schools, and school district, and eventually got a contract with the school district for participation and funding. Since that time, Wetland Stewards has become a model program that has effectively quadrupled in size, and we are now able to hire 12 high school interns each year and train them to be environmental educators for elementary and middle school after-school programs. Over the years, we have seen our Wetland Stewards interns move on to prestigious universities and important jobs.
Noelle was a guiding force behind the citizen-science Project Tierra program, where students and community volunteers get the opportunity to do real hands-on scientific research and monitoring. Project Tierra has been integrated with the science curriculum at Pajaro Valley High School. For example, all freshmen students go on Aquatic Invertebrates Monitoring field trips (see article, above) as a first exposure, and then return to the wetlands in other science classes over subsequent years. The monitoring data collected by the students and volunteers is used by the City of Watsonville, the State Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the Wetlands Watch for restoration planning and assessment.
In 2011, Noelle was instrumental in launching the Green Careers program for high school students who were not necessarily college bound, but wanted to gain practical work skills and learn about other job opportunities in the environmental arena. We just completed our 3rd year of this successful program.
Noelle is a creative can-do kind of person and a pleasure to work with. She has resigned from the Eduction Director position to spend more time with her family and her family business. She will continue to work with the Wetlands Watch as a consultant.
Watsonville Wetlands Watch Benefits from “Outstanding in the Field” Dinner
On a beautiful day in November, a long table for 100 diners was set up in a field on the High Ground Organics farm. The view overlooking Harkins Slough was spectacular. This was a stop along a farm-to-table dinner tour called “Outstanding in the Field,” and a benefit for Watsonville Wetlands Watch.
Wetlands Watch President Lou Rose spoke to the guests before dinner, explaining our three-part mission of protecting, restoring, and helping to develop a community-wide appreciation of the Pajaro Valley wetlands.
Before darkness fell and the candles were lit, some fortunate diners saw one of the resident Bald Eagles soaring overhead. And everyone saw an incredible display of Wetlands birds — including Ospreys, White Pelicans, Red-tailed Hawks, White-tailed Kites, and a Great Blue Heron. Click to see the entire article.
Wetlands Wildlife Photography
Elegant Terns. Efren Adalem
On Thursday, Jan 7th, the Watsonville Wetlands Watch is hosting local wildlife photographers Denise Murphy and Efren Adalem, who will give a slide show of their stunning photographs while they talk about their many adventures and the process of capturing action shots of wildlife in natural settings. They use the local wetlands as the source of their inspiration.
Efren’s sea otter photographs were used in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s otter exhibit and he was a finalist in the International Photo Exhibit in Varna, Bulgaria in 2013. They've both won several local photography contests and their photos have been used in the Elkhorn Slough Calendar.
Volunteers making a difference by helping to restore our wetlands.
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 Dec. 19. We will work from 9 a.m. to 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-566-4938.
WWW Programs have Lifetime Impact!
Former Wetland Stewards intern and board member Athena Barrios
In our year-end letter you can read about our board member Athena Barrios and how she was influenced as a high school student by the Wetland Stewards programs of the Wetlands Watch. Her experience inspired her to pursue a degree in marine biology, and she is now an educator for the Monterey Bay Aquarium as well as an officer of the Wetlands Watch Board of Directors.
Please consider making a tax-deductible gift to the Wetlands Watch as part of your year-end charitable giving. You will not only be helping to restore and conserve our wetlands; you’ll introduce young people like Athena to the joys of our environment and their role in caring for it. Thank you! I will support the Wetlands Watch with a year-end gift.
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.