From the Classroom

Birding at the Baylands

Birding at the Baylands

It was another stunning day at the San Pablo Baylands, when thirty of Linda Judah’s high school Biology students flocked to the restored tidal marsh determined to identify and count birds. Initially students groaned that there were no birds in sight. The high tide meant that the many tidal birds that dot the shores at low tide were elsewhere awaiting their daily timed feast.

Monitoring the marsh bird species is especially valuable as indicators for assessing the health of the wetland ecosystems, and species presence and quantity is a measurement of the success of wetland restoration. Marsh bird populations are expected to increase as the tidal marsh habitat matures; therefore, monitoring changes in bird populations provides evidence of the success of the restoration.

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Field Trip to the San Pablo Baylands

Field Trip to the San Pablo Baylands

When preparing for their field trip out to the San Pablo Baylands, teachers Kirsten Franklin and Eric Norstad posed this question to their students: How can we, as fourth graders, learn about the importance of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge and help the Sonoma Land Trust share this information with the public in the form of a Public Service Announcement?

The San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a project years in the making; an acreage that has been given new life with it’s liberation from dry farmland to vital wetlands. In the mid 1980s, the Sonoma Land Trust acquired its first property in the Baylands along Highway 37. They then initiated the lengthy process of restoring the land to its natural state as tidal wetlands. This began by breaching a levee, which along with many others built in the 1880s destroyed the wetlands of the bay area to provide agricultural land for the growing city and population.

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What is a Watershed Classroom Teacher?

What is a Watershed Classroom Teacher?

A Watershed Classroom teacher is supported with funds, field trips, materials, and resources, as they incorporate the local environment into their curriculum and classroom. 

When Eric Backman, Principal at Casa Grande and board member of Friends of the Petaluma River, first envisioned the program he very much wanted it to be teacher driven. Teachers know their strengths and what they do best; they know how they best build curriculum, modify it and adjust to fit their current students; and they know how to best facilitate a rich learning environment. 

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Friends of the Petaluma River's Professional Development Workshop

Friends of the Petaluma River's Professional Development Workshop

Our recent Professional Development workshop was so enjoyable, not only due to the great presenters, but because of the teachers’ participation, collaboration and discussions. The two-day workshop began with Neal Ramus's introduction to Sonoma Land Trust and their restoration of the San Pablo wetlands. He also discussed the importance of wetlands in light of climate change and sea level rise. As Director of Community Programs at Sonoma Land Trust, Neal is excited for Sonoma educators to bring field trips out to explore, investigate and learn more about the wetlands and the restoration process. 

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