As always, things have been busy here at Pathfinder Ranch.
Recently, Pathfinder Ranch hosted a semi-annual conference for the California Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (www.AEOE.org or www.facebook.com/caeoe). We had educators coming from all over the southern half of the state. We spent time in the professional development workshops as well as learned some new campfire skits and songs. Several of our own staff presented some of these workshops.
Our Outdoor Education Director, Ryan, facilitated a discussion with other directors to talk about issues we face, and how to improve each of our programs.
Luna and Willow brought out the horses to show how we use them in our classes, and gave participants a taste of our ExCEEd (Equine Centered Experiential Education…team-building with horses) class. Imagine our team challenge programs with a horse as your teammate! There are pictures on our Facebook page of this class in action.
Canyon gave a tour of our nature center including meeting our animals, and discussed how we can make nature center experiences more engaging and meaningful for our students. Look forward to a few more displays and activities when you visit later in the school year!
We went to a workshop on solar energy where we built a solar powered wheelie robot similar to what you can build in our energy class. We also learned some things about solar energy that we will be sharing in our classes.
There was a good workshop on using poetry as a kinesthetic learning tool with some great tips on helping students be very creative while working within the limits of outdoor education.
We also had a great workshop on sustainability, parts of which will go nicely into our permaculture class involving farm animals, garden plants, and energy cycles. It was taught by the Green Camps Initiative (GCI- www.greencampsinitiative.org). The GCI Director shared a lot of fun and thought provoking activities that you will be seeing soon in some of our classes. Visit the website to see some great activities that you can implement back at school and at home. We learned that it takes 5,200 gallons of water to process the ingredients and produce one chocolate bar. Staggering!
We also went to workshops about inclusion, Common Core standards, astronomy, Ant-O-Lympics, citizen science projects, and team-building. We are excited to start using the new things we learned in our classes, and we hope you are excited to see them, too!
See you down the trail!
Hello there! Just like the recent weather changes from hail flurries one week to highs in the 70s the next, Pathfinder Ranch has also been constantly changing with new additions and improvements happening every day.
One of the additions that we are most excited about is our brand new climbing wall structure and zip line! The climbing wall structure has been getting lots of use from our school groups. The students love trying the new routes and obstacles on the different walls. There are now three sides that have been named after places here in California that our Naturalists like to hike and/or rock climb– Taquitz, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite.
Along with the climbing wall we have added two new zip lines! Although the zip lines are not ready for this spring’s school groups, we are planning on having them ready for Adventure Camp (June 23-28) this summer. Come and join us for six days of climbing, hiking, explorations, and other fun adventures. Don’t forget about our summer camp (spots are filling quickly so email or call our office for openings), and the fun we’ll be having with all of these amazing additions!
We also have a new living addition, Cleopatra (Albino Kingsnake), to our Nature Center. She is doing well adjusting to her new home. She is still very young and is getting used to all of the love the Naturalists are giving her. We can’t get enough of little Cleo!
We have our fingers crossed that turkey chicks will hatch and add to our flock at the farm! Our mama turkey, Jenny, is currently sitting on the eggs she laid. The eggs are slightly larger than chicken eggs, are brown in color and have dark brown specks. Stay tuned via Facebook and our blog to see if the eggs hatch into cute baby turkey chicks!
Hope spring finds all of you well and excited for summer!
See you down the trail,
Pathfinder Ranch Naturalists
Spring is just around the corner, and like the plants that are being reborn all around Pathfinder, the garden is getting revitalized, too! Spring cleaning has begun and the garden is getting a fresh make-over.
All hands are on deck as Pathfinder gets ready for the warm weather and 50th year celebration in April. Maintenance began a project in the front lobby to try and get some plants growing even earlier than the cold would allow; and it worked! Live in a cold place, or have soil with little to no nutrients? Check out our experimental hydroponics system. Hydroponics doesn’t require soil. Instead, the plants are placed in plastic containers (drill holes through the sides and bottom) that are filled with shredded coconut medium, which absorbs water and nutrients from the water basin that it’s submerged in. We used an old plastic bin, recycled yogurt containers, an aquarium pump, and 6 gallons of purified water. Instead of daily watering, with hydroponics you can simply add 1 gallon of water every two weeks!
Not only can plants grow year round when protected from the elements outside, but you can also save both space and water! In our experiment, the basil is flourishing but our spinach is not. Try it at home and post the results of your own hydroponics system on our Facebook page. We’d sure love to know!
Another project a few Naturalists have been working on is our compost. As the weather gets warmer, and we want to grow many more things than will fit in our hydroponics system, we need soil for our plants to thrive in. As old plant matter breaks down, it creates fertile soil which you can use for planting. This decomposition harnesses the power of the circle of life. Why buy something you normally just throw away each day? Use those food scraps and start your own compost. Your garden will love you for it!
Have you ever composted before? If not, here are a few tips from our resident garden expert, Rain:
1. Dig your compost pile down at least a few inches. This makes the pile easier to turn and keeps heat in. Keeping the pile warmer will produce soil sooner.
2. Cover your compost. Again, this keeps it nice and warm which breaks down material faster. This also helps to keep unwanted critters away.
3. Turn your compost. There are plenty of fun ways to do this, including rolling it around in an old trash can! The reason is simple..all those microbes and other organisms like earthworms that help the food turn to soil need the help of oxygen.
4. Add nearly everything! Add any food waste that comes from plants: bread, veggies, fruit cores and peels, pasta, french fries, coffee grinds, tomato sauce, leaves and twigs, and even old paper, napkins, and tea bags! (Did you know it takes less energy for the paper to break down in the compost than to be recycled into new paper? Plus this added carbon helps the compost to be more nutritious and less smelly!)
New projects are springing forward to make this year’s garden the most beautiful and bountiful yet! We’ve had some amazing 4th-6th grade gardeners already come and help plant many new crops. How about you? This spring you too could revitalize that little plot of green space or an empty windowsill into a lean, mean food producing machine!
Thanks for reading,
Your Pathfinder Ranch Naturalists and Staff
Thanks to Mike for this great list of opportunities in Southern California to keep the fun going.
If you loved coming to Pathfinder Ranch, there are more chances to have fun learning experiences in your own community. These are just a sample of the many fun and exciting events going on throughout southern California in May.
Saturday, May 4th, 2013
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Join us and share the opportunity to view hundreds of ibises, egrets, and blackbirds and many other migratory and resident birds in their natural habitat.
Located on the grounds of the San Jacinto Valley Regional Water Reclamation Facility, this multi-purpose constructed wetlands “polishes” recycled water before it is distributed to nearby farms, dairies and the San Jacinto Wildlife Area for irrigation and additional environmental uses.
More info at: http://www.emwd.org/index.aspx?page=24&recordid=1623
Nora’s Children’s Art Classes
2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
San Diego, CA
Nora’s Art Classes for children ages 4-14 are being offered by artist Nora Kearney-Johnson on most Saturdays through December. Classes are from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. at the Mission Trails Visitor Center. Each class is a different topic and children may take home their art project each week. All art supplies are included.
Sunday, May 5th, 2013
First Sundays - 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
First Sundays is a seasonal series of free family programs featuring different activities for children and teens at six different location in downtown: Riverside Metropolitan Museum, Mission Inn Museum, Riverside Art Museum, Riverside Public Library, UCR ArtsBlock, and Riverside Fox Theater Foundation. Sponsored by the Riverside Arts Council.
More info at: http://www.riversideca.gov/museum/firstsundays.asp
Saturday, May 18th, 2013
Jr. Trail Guides Explorer Program: Cahuilla Indian Culture and other Important Historical Influences
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Palm Desert, CA
Travel back in time as we learn about some of the early people and events that happened right here in the National Monument. Be prepared to get your hands dirty as we dig into the past and earn the “Keeping History Alive” badge.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Family Discovery Walk
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
San Diego, CA
Join MTRP Trail Guides, Jennifer Douglas and Marcia Stoner, on a guided walk every other month to the Kumeyaay grinding rocks site. Along the way, discover the many seasonal changes that occur here in the park throughout the year. These 90-minute walks provide an essential opportunity for parents and their children to get outdoors and spend some quality time together in nature.