Child in the Wild at Howarth Park

Virginia Hotz Steenhoven, Co-chair with Catherine Lipson, Ed/Outreach Committee
photo by Lynn Houser

Child in the Wild event at Howarth Park

Four members of our CNPS Milo Baker Education and Outreach Committee, were enthusiastic participants in the “Child in the Wild” celebration on June 2, held at Howarth Park. The event was sponsored by the Sonoma Land Trust and the Southeast Greenway Campaign and attended by over 700 people and several hundred families. Participating organizations offering child and family centered activities including The Redwood Empire Chinese Association, 4Cs, Sonoma Water, the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County, LandPaths, and others. Live entertainment was also offered including Sonoma Pomo Dancers, Redwood Chinese Dragon and Lion Dancers, and Aztec Folklorico dancers. There were also several live music offerings.

Our CNPS education team has built up a substantial “library” of interactive materials and activities which made the short notice for the event easier to plan and implement. Visitors to our substantial exhibit were invited to create collages, sculptures, leaf rubbings as well as examine materials with large magnifying glasses. All the native plant materials were gathered in our gardens and included bark, seeds, acorn caps, pine and redwood cones, twigs encrusted with lichens, loose pieces of lichen, and conifer cones of various sizes. We also included three types of oak leaves, toyon, and California bay leaves. White glue, popsicle stick glue applicators, small and large paper plates were available as bases. Visitors could combine mediums using crayons and colored pencils for leaf rubbings and rubber wildlife stamps. Many of the children were ingenious in using combinations of materials to create their artwork. We included apple oak gall ink with paintbrush applicators. Visitors also learned that oak apple dye is used in California Indian basketry, the ink used by medieval scholars in writing early manuscripts, and that our Constitution’s first copy was written with oak gall Ink.

We included our “magnetic oak” a sheet metal outline of a valley oak with magnets representing the amazingly diverse life supported by our native oaks. Visitors are encouraged to choose magnets from a basket and place them in an appropriate part of the oak; canopy, trunk, above or below ground. A recent addition to our ‘hands on’ materials is the recently created set of large illustrated wood dominoes with text and photos that represent the enormously rich and diverse life of our native oak woodlands. Keystone species are identified so that removal of any of them causes the dominoes to collapse with a resounding clunk. It’s a vivid illustration of the ‘domino effect’ in ecosystems.

The exhibit also included our usual array of informational materials, brochures, books, magazines, photos, live wildflower cuttings in vases, and a mailing list sign up sheet. Susan Dean as well as our other volunteers contributed the live specimens. Volunteers included Virginia Hotz-Steenhoven, Catherine and Peter Lipson and two brand new committee members, Ingrid Anderson of Rohnert Park and long time CNPS volunteer Lynn Houser. It was a perfect day for an outdoor event; beautiful weather, shaded booth spaces, good music, enthusiastic visitors and lots of good natured volunteers to assist with unloading and loading vehicles, setting up booth tables, congenially answering questions. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile day thanks to Sonoma Land Trust and The Greenway Campaign. We’ll be there next year!!!

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