She's only 11 years old, but already she's interested in butterflies.
Selah Deuz of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, entered her display on "How to Create a Butterfly Garden" at the recent Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day, where youths share what they've learned in their projects and gain experience in honing their presentation skills.
"Would you like to add some excitement to your garden?" she asked. "How about butterflies? Butterflies are attracted to specific plants."
Selah went on to list the steps involved in butterfly gardening, including (1) doing research, (2) choosing host plants (3) choosing nectar plants (4) purchasing plants, (5) planting them and (6) enjoying them.
Who knows? She may turn out to be another butterfly guru like Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis who has studied butterflies for more than four decades and maintains a website on his research.
Meanwhile, if you're interested in gardening for butterflies, mark your calendar. The Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis has scheduled an open house for Sunday, March 19 on “Eggs to Wings: Backyard Butterfly Gardening.” The event, free and open to the public, will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. in the museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
We're in the throes of winter, but spring is rapidly approaching: March 20.
It's about other projects, too, from "A" to "Z."
And "B." Don't forget the honey bees.
Solano County's Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon, has just launched a beekeeping project, led by adult leader Sarah Anenson. It's a first-year project that's small in numbers but big in enthusiasm.
Her son, Ryan Anenson, 15, serves as the teen leader. Other members are Isabel Martinez, 12, and Caitlin Miller, 17.
They're learning about bees and sharing the information. Ryan crafted an informational display board, "Queen Bee, Star of the Hive," for the Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day, held recently in Vallejo, and responded to questions from his evaluators. Solano County 4-H Program representative Valerie Williams described Project Skills Day as an opportunity for 4-H'ers to share what they've learned and to gain experience in presentation and interaction skills.
One of the evaluators praised Anenson's presentation with: "Excellent presentation. You're knowledgeable and passionate on your subject. You were pleasant to talk to. Your eye contact, speaking ability and overall conversation was engaging and informative. We look forward to seeing you and your board at Presentation Day and beyond."
Sarah Anenson decided to launch the 4-H beekeeping project after walking to a local vintage fair and noticing an observation beehive surrounded by children of all ages. "They were fascinated by the bees and were a captive audience for hours--even our teenagers were mesmerized," she said. "It was then that we realized that a 4-H honey bee project would be beneficial for our youth. To help give our project a kick-start, we received our beehive and hive tools from our good friend, Mr. Don Ritchey."
She added: "We are currently raising only one colony, though we hope to raise more in the near future. One of our hopes is that we will receive bee hive and honey bee donations from our community. Raising honey bees, although highly beneficial, is costly to new beekeepers."
The Tremont 4-H'ers acquired their first honey bee colony last April from Breanna Sieferman of California Queen Bees, Woodland. The bees are now in a Dixon almond grove for pollination, which is expected to start around Feb. 14. "We are glad that our honey bees will help with the pollination of the almonds, but we are not seeking compensation," Anenson said. "We are simply happy to learn what we can about the honey bees, and at some point reap the rewards in honey."
Meanwhile, Ryan Anenson is getting ready to share his beekeeping project at another countywide event, the Solano County 4-H Presentation, to be held Saturday, Feb. 25 at Tremont Elementary School, 355 Pheasant Run Drive, Dixon. The event begins at 10 a.m. and visitors are welcome.
The Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program, part of the UC Cooperative Extension Program of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), follows the motto, “Making the best better.” 4-H, which stands for head, heart, health and hands, is open to youths ages 5 to 19. In age-appropriate projects, they learn skills through hands-on learning in projects ranging from arts and crafts, computers and leadership to dog care, poultry, rabbits and woodworking. They develop skills they would otherwise not attain at home or in public or private schools, said Williams, who may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on the program. Solano County has 11 4-H clubs: Dixon Ridge 4-H, Maine Prairie 4-H, Roving Clovers 4-H and Tremont, 4-H, all of Dixon; Elmira 4-H, Pleasants Valley 4-H and Vaca Valley 4-H, all of the Vacaville area; Westwind 4-H and Suisun Valley 4-H, both of Fairfield-Suisun; Rio Vista 4-H of Rio Vista; and Sherwood Forest 4-H, Vallejo.
The colorful butterfly seemed to flutter from a blanket that Solano County 4-H'er Erica Lull was sewing last Saturday, Jan. 14, at a “Cuddle Me Close” community service project.
Erica, 14, a junior leader in the Tremont Countywide 4-H Service Learning Project, has made 700 blankets for new nursing mothers. The soft, flannel blankets or "cover-ups" provide privacy to breast-feeding mothers and their newborns.
Audrey Ritchey, an x-ray technician at the North Bay Medical Center, Fairfield, who triples as president of the Solano County 4-H Leaders' Council, leader of "Cuddle Me Close," and as a co-community leader of the Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon, launched the service project in 2013.
Erica took to it like a needle to thread.
“Erica has made about 60 percent of the blankets,” Ritchey said. “She's amazing.”
Ritchey, a nine-year 4-H adult volunteer (email@example.com) says the six youngsters in her community-service project not only learn how to sew, but learn how to connect with one another and how to budget while fulfilling a public service need. The project, Ritchey said, “promotes mother-baby bonding through skin-to-skin contact, supports positive and physical and mental development, is healthier for mother and child and is inexpensive in comparison to formula."
Studies show that breast milk contains antibodies that help babies fight off viruses and bacteria and lowers the risk of allergies, ear infections, respiratory illnesses and bouts of diarrhea, said Ritchey, adding that breastfed babies also have a lower risk of childhood obesity.
Last Saturday Erica was sewing blankets during the Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day, held at the Community Presbyterian Church, Vallejo. Earlier she delivered a presentation on “The Digestive System of Chickens”--and judges awarded her a showmanship pin, signifying excellence. Then she headed upstairs to the "Cuddle Me Close" demonstrations, to sew and to teach other 4-H'ers how to sew.
Does she like butterflies? Insects? She does. “When I was a little girl, I used to be obsessed with bugs,” she acknowledged.
Odds are that the butterfly blankets she's making—the patterns also depict colorful flowers and cuddly animals—will be treasured by the new moms. “I was told that one mom started to cry when she got the cover-up,” Ritchey said. “She stated that it was the only thing she had for her baby.”
But back to the butterflies. They glowed red and green. Is this butterfly "real," that is, does it have a counterpart in nature? Could Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, identify it? Shapiro, who has studied the butterflies of central California for more than four decades, maintains a website on butterflies at http://butterfly.ucdavis.edu/, where he records population trends. A noted Lepitopderist, he authored A Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions, illustrated by Tim Manolis, and published in 2007 by the University of California Press. The book covers more than 130 species.
Shapiro checked out the red and green butterfly. "Nobody I know," he said. "(It's) one God hasn't gotten around to creating yet!"
Or, one Shapiro hasn't discovered yet...