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  Santa Cruz Parent Santa Cruz County

April 9, 2010
The Joy of Spring and Earth Celebrations
Festival for the Environment
Jimmy Skunk Explains
This Week
Spring Nature Walk in Elkhorn Slough
Festival for the Environment (continued)
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  The Joy of Spring and Earth Celebrations

(Site Photos) GardenFrontyard.jpgI've been known to question the worth of skunks' existence, especially when coming upon them unexpectedly, and now with the acacias blooming I tearingly wonder if there could have been a better way to provide for the job of pollen.  Nevertheless, the joy of Spring is upon us this week.  Warm, sunny days are welcome.  Flowers beg to be placed in the ground.  Farmers are excited about new crops.  A friend has removed her front lawn and is growing vegetables for her family.  We feel good about taking care of the earth.  Rangers in our state parks offer guided walks or hikes.  Lots of earth celebrations are coming up.  Lucky us.

(Site Photos) Skunks.jpgJimmy Skunk has returned to our neighborhood.  He has selected the space beneath the cottage in the back as a good place to raise a family.  I think he likes mothballs, as he and the mothballs are both still there.  Pungent aromas are his game.  We keep throwing dirt down the hole.  He digs it out.  We're not cruel; we don't fill it in during the day when he's asleep under there.  This is a challenge because none of us wants to get up at midnight to fill the hole when he's out doing what skunks do at nighttime.  We're collecting a pile of rocks however just in case one of us has a sleepless moment in the middle of the night.  They have to be heavy and numerous enough to discourage Jimmy Skunk.  I just hope he finds another home before he selects the mother of his skunk babies, or are we too late?!

Speaking of skunks, have you read any of Thornton Burgess' animal stories to your children? They are classics and delightful, perfect for second graders to read aloud with you.  Each story has a moral or lesson.  I'll share one with you.  The libraries have some of them and you can access them online at Project Gutenberg but of course the very best place to get them is your local bookstore. 

After this sunny vacation week, we're in the school homestretch. If you have a child struggling in any area,  think of engaging a tutor.  It's amazing what can be accomplished one on one with a professional.

                                                                                       Parmalee

  Festival for the Environment

(Site Photos) FestivalBoywithSnake.jpgTwo third grade boys walked purposefully among the crowd, small reptiles wrapped carefully in their arms. Nine-year-old Aidan Ezeji-Okoye cradled his corn snake "Legless," while classmate Zachary Clark's milk snake "Latte" lay intertwined among the boy's slender fingers. The snakes (and their owners) were a big hit at the Festival for the Environment last April, where environmental stewardship, green living and green learning were on display and "hands-on'.

"They felt like they were really educating people and changing their minds about these often misunderstood animals," explains Zachary's mom, Komala Correos. Correos is an animal caretaker at the Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward and she brought an array of wildlife for her booth at the Festival.

The April event was the third annual Festival hosted by the school, which began in 2007, when Mount Madonna School (MMS) focused on the Pajaro Watershed as an all-school study project. The subject was a very appropriate choice, since the School's campus is located on 355 acres of watershed headwaters. During the course of their studies, students discovered that the local waterway was No. 1 on America's most (Site Photos) FestivalSliderTurtles.jpgendangered rivers list (American Rivers, 2006). This eye-opening discovery galvanized the students and faculty to create a public event to share their studies and celebrate local organizations involved in cleaning up the waterway.

In the second year, this learning event became the Festival for the Environment. Featuring eco-friendly vendor booths, student exhibits including a solar car race, hands-on learning activities, trash fashions, live music dancing, and delicious organic foods, this family event has fast become a "green" highlight in the area. Keynote speakers have included Lois Robin of the Sierra Club, Dennis Takahashi-Kelso, Executive VP of Ocean Conversancy, and Thomas Broz of Live Earth Farm.

This year....(continued below)

  Jimmy Skunk Explains

You'll find this true where'er you go
That those prepared few troubles know.

"To begin with, I am not such a very big fellow, am I?" said Jimmy.

"Ah reckons Ah knows a right smart lot of folks bigger than yo', Brer Skunk," replied Unc' Billy, with a grin. You know Jimmy Skunk really is a little fellow compared with some of his neighbors.

"And I haven't very long claws or very big teeth, have I?" continued Jimmy.

"Ah reckons mine are about as long and about as big," returned Unc' Billy, looking more puzzled than ever.

"But you never see anybody bothering me, do you?" went on Jimmy.

"No," replied Unc' Billy.

"And it's the same way with Prickly Porky the Porcupine. You never see anybody bothering him or offering to do him any harm, do you?" persisted Jimmy.

"No," replied Unc' Billy once more.

"Why?" demanded Jimmy.

(Products/Books) TheAdventuresofJimmySkunk.jpgUnc' Billy grinned broadly. "Ah reckons, Brer Skunk," said he, "that there isn't anybody wants to go fo' to meddle with yo' and Brer Porky. Ah reckons most folks knows what would happen if they did, and that yo' and Brer Porky are folks it's a sight mo' comfortable to leave alone. Leastways, Ah does. Ah ain't aiming fo' trouble with either of yo'. That li'l bag of scent yo' carry is cert'nly most powerful, Brer Skunk, and Ah isn't hankering to brush against those little spears Brer Porky is so free with. Ah knows when Ah's well off, and Ah reckons most folks feel the same way."

Jimmy Skunk chuckled. "One more question, Unc' Billy," said he. "Did you ever know me to pick a quarrel and use that bag of scent without being attacked?"

Unc' Billy considered for a few minutes. "Ah can't say Ah ever did," he replied.

"And you never knew Prickly Porky to go hunting trouble either," declared Jimmy. "We don't either of us go hunting trouble, and trouble never comes hunting us, and the reason is that we both are always prepared for trouble and everybody knows it. Buster Bear could squash me by just stepping on me, but he doesn't try it. You notice he always is very polite when we meet.  Prickly Porky and I are armed for defence, but we never use our weapons for offence. Nobody bothers us, and we bother nobody. That's the beauty of being prepared."

Unc' Billy thought it over for a few minutes. Then he sighed and sighed again.

"Ah reckons yo' and Brer Porky are about the luckiest people Ah knows," said he. "Yes, Sah, Ah reckons yo' is just that. Ah don't fear anybody mah own size, but Ah cert'nly does have some mighty scary times when Ah meets some people Ah might mention. Ah wish Ol' Mother Nature had done gone and given me something fo' to make people as scary of me as they are of yo'. Ah cert'nly believes in preparedness after seein' yo', Brer Skunk. Ah cert'nly does just that very thing. Have yo' found any nice fresh aiggs lately?"

  This Week

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 Spring Nature Walk in Elkhorn Slough

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Saturday, April 10, 10am-1pm

Join us for an enjoyable hike through the Northern Crescent of the Elkhorn Slough highlands. The trail features stunning ridge top views and meanders through diverse habitats. We'll provide a light snack. Friends and families are welcome. Please note, this is a moderate hike that includes a series moderate elevation changes. RSVP today!  Directions to the property will be provided upon registration.

 

 

Voting for Elkhorn Slough will help our education programs!

The Elkhorn Slough Foundation is participating in Pepsi's Refresh Everything Grant Competition. Your vote each day in April can help us win $50,000 to support the slough's Education and Outreach program. We must be one of the top 10 vote getters in the $50,000 category in order to receive the grant. Each year more than 8,000 school children and 10,000 public visitors explore the Slough. If we receive this grant from Pepsi, we can further increase these numbers and share the beauty and conservation message of the slough with an even larger audience.


VOTE ONCE A DAY EVERY DAY IN APRIL! http://www.refresheverything.com/elkhornslough

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  Festival for the Environment (continued)

... Gary Griggs, Director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at UCSC will deliver the keynote address. Griggs, recently completed his 6th book, Introduction to California's Beaches and Coasts, and also writes a biweekly column, Our Ocean Backyard, in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. In 2009, Sunset Magazine and the California Coastal Commission, selected Griggs as a Coastal Hero. Headliner band for the Festival is AZA, a 6-member ensemble that plays globally influenced traditional Tamazight (Berber) music indigenous to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco.

Participating organizations represent a broad range of environmentally-focused businesses and nonprofits, from the Otter Project to Independent Energy Systems; Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society to California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF); Elkhorn Slough Foundation to Save Open Space, Gilroy. The Festival centers on giving inspiration and instruction to today's youth and their families in how they can take meaningful action on important environmental and stewardship issues. Attendance has grown to nearly 1,000 people of all ages, from south Silicon Valley and the Monterey Bay areas.

The Festival demonstrates how revitalizing it is to bring together students, faculty, parents, grandparents, community members, scientists, and other local experts to participate together in a day of enjoyable learning activities. For a couple years, Ocean Conversancy has offered hands-on activities for elementary-age children to learn about the ocean and environmental problems that can be solved by young people. The reptile "guests' provided by the Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society (BAARS) were a huge hit in 2009! The California Bat Conservation Fund always brings live bats that attract an avid audience, and it's rewarding to see reality overcome the myths surrounding these important creatures. Student solar reflector demonstrations awed children and grown-ups alike in its impressive display of engineering and the power of the sun (not to mention the tasty "sun-baked" chocolate chip cookies!).

(Site Photos) FestivalChildrenwithwater.jpgOne popular event each year has been the "trash fashion show" where students collect what would normally be considered trash and turn it into chic outfits that they then model for Festival attendees. Garments have included a dress made entirely out of Target bags, a cool lampshade hat, a skirt and vest constructed of old postcards, a flowing cocktail dress of recycled sheet fabric and an amazing vest made of live wheatgrass! The process of collecting garbage and then turning it into something fun - and even beautiful - focuses attention on the act of throwing something away. Event organizers plan to open the trash fashion show up to participation by students from Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Gilroy and Morgan Hill schools.

In 2009, MMS initiated Summit for the Planet, a hike-a-thon fundraiser to begin the festivities, and opened the event to all area schools and nonprofits. Hikers choose an organization they wish to support, set a goal, and then gather pledges for each kilometer they hike. Participants walk through 5 kilometers of forested trails on the school campus, which is located near Mount Madonna County Park. The trail is a mild to moderate route, and some avid walkers choose to walk/run the loop two, three, and four times. After the hike-a-thon is over and funds are collected, organizations receive 70% of all pledges and donations raised by each hike. Orchard School participated in the hike in 2009 and event planners hope to encourage many more schools and nonprofit organizations to be a part of this healthy community fundraiser in 2010. There is a great deal of behind-the-scenes work that goes into organizing, promoting and executing a fundraiser like this - but the potential for big reward to the community is great!

(Site Photos) FestivalGirlinFestivalt-shirt.jpgThe event is supported primarily by the Mount Madonna students, faculty and staff. However, the significant growth of the event in 2009 can be attributed to support from local businesses, such as Independent Energy Systems, Santa Cruz Medical Foundation and Gilroy Honda, that choose to be sponsors. Growing Up in Santa Cruz, KAZU and KUSP have played an integral part in spreading the word within the Monterey Bay area communities.

Going into 2010, the goals of the Festival for the Environment and the Summit for the Planet continue to include highlighting the outstanding work that the local communities are doing to reduce environmental impact, and, at the same time, showing what more we can all do together to make the difference necessary to ensure quality of life for ourselves, our children and their children.

4th Annual Festival for the Environment
A FREE, green event for the whole family, hosted by Mount Madonna School
Saturday, April 24, 2010, 11am-3pm
491 Summit Road, Watsonville

For More Information:
Festival for the Environment - www.ecofest.us
Summit for the Planet Walk-a-thon - www.SummitforthePlanet.org
"Trash Fashion' show - Lara Kilpatrick, (408) 847-2717

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