- Author: Linda Forbes
University of California Cooperative Extension, 4-H Youth Development Program in Santa Clara County partnered with multiple community organizations to hold a 4-H Nature Explorers Day Camp at Escuela Popular Bilingual Academy in East San Jose from July 17 to July 21.
Organizers wanted to reach more participants this year than they had in the inaugural 2022 camp, so they structured the program for different K-8 grade levels to attend on different days. 79 campers participated, which was a 130% increase over the number of campers last year.
“Everything we did during the week was focused on environmental science,” said Susan Weaver, 4-H Regional Program Coordinator. “We partnered with Project Learning Tree, UC Environmental Stewards, UC Master Gardeners and CalFresh Healthy Living, UC– as well as community agencies related to the natural environment.”
Numerous activities engaged the youths such as field trips; demonstrations; and sessions themed around trees as habitats, birds and bugs, and being “leaf detectives.” 4-H Adult Volunteer, Laura Tiscareno, took charge of the hands-on Project Learning Tree sessions. Craft time included making nature-themed wind chimes and spinning paper snakes.
Bilingual teen camp counselors guided small groups of students for the duration of the day camp. In situations where the adult facilitator did not speak Spanish, teens translated information into Spanish for students with less English confidence.
“These kids call me ‘teacher' and it's awesome,” said Rodrigo, one of the counselors. “The camp benefits me a lot because I connect with children and in the future, I can even be a teacher if I wanted to.”
Another counselor, Andrea, learned about communication. “It's a bit different with kids at different age levels,” she said. “Since we had kindergarten through eighth grade, we had to switch our tactics from grade to grade so that they would understand us and we'd be able to understand them. Also learning how to bond with them so that they would pay more attention.
One highlight of the week was a field trip for third through eighth graders to the Master Gardeners location at Martial Cottle Park, where students learned about vermicomposting and made their own individual countertop worm habitat and composter.
Campers especially enjoyed the interactive demonstrations. “My favorite part is going on all the field trips because we went to a garden, and we've been catching worms and doing stuff about worms,” said one student. “It's really fun going on trips.”
Another camper said, “Something I would like to change about camp is having more time here.”
The program culminated in a Nature Camp Festival at Escuela Popular in partnership with community agencies. Youth enjoyed games, meeting reptiles, outdoor science activities, arborist crafts, a “Rethink Your Drink” table to make a fresh fruit drink, tamales, a nacho bar and more.
Representatives from the Silicon Valley Wildlife Center discussed animals that live in local neighborhoods and how the Center supports people to keep the animals safe. Victor Mortari of Vexotic Me talked about and showed snakes, spiders, scorpions, and other creatures, making the kids squeal while learning about them. As a fun added bonus, 4-H Community Educator Zubia Mahmood arranged to have a local team come to teach soccer skills as a healthy living activity.
The event increased the youth's interest in environmental education and involved Latino youth and adults who are new to 4-H – representing a community that has not historically benefited from the 4-H program. The teen teachers also increased their leadership and career readiness skills; post-camp surveys showed that all the teen counselors see 4-H as a place where they can be a leader and help make group decisions. Some campers noted in the survey that they wanted the camp to be every day, all summer!
National 4-H funded the camp in 2022 and 2023, allowing organizers to provide meals, T-shirts, water bottles and other items to foster belonging and promote healthy living. Community partners, crucial to the program's success, included the Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley, Escuela Popular Bilingual Academy, Silicon Valley Water and Silicon Valley Wildlife Center.
- Author: Anne Schellman
This event was created by Amber O'Brien-VerHulst, Library Assistant for the Modesto Library Teen and Children's Department who did an amazing job! After library staff welcomed in the “Hogwarts students,” they were “sorted” into their respective houses of Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff. Next, the students had the opportunity to:
- Make a “Rememberall”
- Visit the Room of Requirements
- Take an “Herbology” class with UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers
In the second Harry Potter book called “The Chamber of Secrets,” Harry and his friends take a class called “Herbology.” During one class, their assignment is to repot a magical creature called a mandrake. This plant resembles a small, grouchy baby and has an earsplitting, dangerous scream.
In our Herbology class, the students safely repotted “Aragog's grandbabies,” which were actually spider plants. In the story, Aragog was a very large spider that Harry and Ron met, so we thought these plants were an appropriate choice for the activity. Kids of all ages enjoyed learning about spider plants, naming their spider, and planting it in a pot to take home. Special thanks to MJC nursery for donating the plants!
Speaking of plants, did you know you can study horticultural science in Modesto?
To learn more, stop by the MJC east campus Environmental Horticulture Department to see the classrooms and inviting study lounge, https://www.mjc.edu/instruction/agens/ehs.php and then visit the MJC Nursery and purchase affordable plants grown by students. To learn more, visit their Facebook page at. https://www.facebook.com/MjcPlantNursery/
In closing, if you haven't been to the library lately, winter is a great time to snuggle up with a good book! If you don't have a library card, apply for one at a local branch (there are 11!) in Stanislaus County. Check the website for hours and locations at https://www.stanislauslibrary.org/.
- Author: Denise Godbout-Avant
With their complex social structure and “waggle dance” to inform hive members where food sources are located, honeybees are fascinating creatures.
But honeybees are not the only bees flitting about the flowers on our crops and in our gardens in search of nectar. There over 4,000 species of bees in California.
There are over 1,600 species of native bees in California. Unlike honeybees and Bumble bees, most are solitary in nature, and do not produce honey or wax for consumption by others. In North America, only the European honeybee and Bumble bees build hives and live in colonies.
There are 3 basic types of bee nesting:
- Ground nesting bees, which make up 70% of bees. Mining bees are an example of these.
- Stem and wood nesting bees, such as leaf cutter bees or mason bees, make up another 30% of bees.
- Colony nesting bees, such as honeybees and bumble bees make up less than 1% of all bees in North America.
Bees are in Trouble
Some ways you can help:
- Plant a garden full of flowering plants to attract bees and other important pollinators. Make sure you have something bloom during the spring, summer, and fall seasons.
- If you use a pesticide, choose one that is less toxic such as a horticultural soap or oil.
- Provide a space for nesting bees, with bee houses and bare patches of soil.
Upcoming Bee Talk
Date: Wednesday, September 14
Time: 3:15 – 4:15pm
Location: Modesto Junior College West Campus, 2201 Blue Gum Ave., Science Community Center in room 115
Denise Godbout-Avant has been a Master Gardener in Stanislaus County since 2020.
- Author: Denise Godbout-Avant
My teacher commented the deadline for doing the assignment was coming up and I wouldn't get an ‘A' in English if I didn't complete the project. I responded I didn't know of any science books to read. He suggested I go to the school library.
I told the librarian of my situation and she guided me to a book about honeybees. I liked bees (though I'd been stung once!) but knew little about them other than they spent time around flowers. That book revealed the complex and fascinating world of honeybees to me. I was enthralled. I have been enamored with bees and science ever since. I eventually obtained degrees in science and education which led to a worthwhile career that included being a biology instructor, museum educator and lab technician. All because of a book on bees. . .I am forever grateful to my 6th grade teacher and the school librarian.
All About Bees Talk
As a Stanislaus County Master Gardener, I have the privilege of joining fellow Master Gardener Heidi Aufdermaur in presenting a talk on “All About Bees,” to share my love of bees. Learn why they're so valuable, different kinds of bees, (there are over 1,600 native bees in California!), their life stages and habits, why they're in trouble, and how home gardeners can help bees thrive. I hope you'll join us!
When: Tuesday, April 26, 2021, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Where: Harvest Hall Rooms D & E at the Agricultural Center at the corner of Crows Landing and Service Road in Modesto
Address: 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto, CA 95358
Instructors: Master Gardeners Heidi Aufdermaur and Denise Godbout-Avant
Questions: call (209) 525-6862
Sign Up online: http://ucanr.edu/bees/2022
Denise Godbout-Avant has been a Stanislaus County Master Gardener since 2020.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day is planned for Sunday, March 6, 2022. This is the 11th year of this free, science-focused event. It was initially scheduled for Feb 20, but was changed due to concerns about the Omicron COVID-19 surge and making the event accessible to undergraduates.
It will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane, with special access "field trips" to places like the Department of Entomology and Nematology's Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee garden on Bee Biology Road.
COVID-19 pandemic precautions kept the 2021 event virtual (traditionally it's scheduled for Presidents' Day Weekend) but in 2022 it will be in person. And, of course, state, county and university safety guidelines will be closely followed. "Currently those are UC Davis-symptom survey approval, masks, and either a vaccine card or a negative test from the prior 72 hours," says coordinator Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology. "We will have people checking at the front doors. UC Davis requires a safety plan for an indoor event for over 100 people and so we are developing that and will be working with event conference center staff to ensure we are following all the guidelines. We are excited to try in person this year after our 100 percent virtual event last year, but we want to be smart and safe about it for us as well as for visitors."
In the past, participants enjoyed visiting these collections in person:
- Anthropology Museum
- Arboretum and Public Garden
- Bohart Museum of Entomology
- Botanical Conservatory
- California Raptor Center
- Center for Plant Diversity
- Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven
- Nematode Collection
- Marine Invertebrate Collection
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology
- Paleontology Collection
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection
- Viticulture and Enology Collection
Stay tuned for which collections will be featured at the 2022 event in the UC Davis Conference Center, and what special- access field trips are planned. The committee is working out the details at its Zoom meetings. For up-to-date information, visit the the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day and follow on Twitter and Facebook.
Just be sure to clear your calendar for Sunday, March 6, 2022. The 11th annual UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day is happening.