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!
Oh, the stories we hear working at the Ranch. Stewart, our Facilities Director (a.k.a. Do-Everything-Extraordinaire), told me about the story of Betsy’s Farm.
One of our wonderful donors, Deana Brix has a mother-in-law, Betsy, who is very prim and proper and doesn’t like to get dirty. Betsy’s Farm at Pathfinder Ranch is actually named after her. Their family joke was to name a place where kids can get their hands dirty after a family member who doesn’t like to get her hands dirty. And boy, do the kids like to get their hands dirty at the farm.
The last two weeks we have had students explore and learn about the farm and our animals. I think their favorite thing was to chase the chickens around. Usually our farm classes get to help feed and interact with the animals, particularly the pigs and goats. What a better way to learn more about where our food comes from than to give it a little scratch behind the ears!
New Farm Faces
A gracious member of our local Garner Valley community recently donated some new goats to Pathfinder Ranch. We’re always excited to add new faces to our farm, but these goats are a pretty unique addition. Both of our new goats are smaller in stature than what you’d imagine for a goat. We have a new pygmy goat and a Nigerian Dwarf goat, Miss Daisy Mae and Blue Jasmine.
Miss Daisy Mae is a Pygmy goat. Pygmy goats originated in the Cameroon Valley of West Africa. They were imported into the United States from European zoos in the 1950s for use in zoos as well as research animals. They were eventually acquired by private breeders and quickly gained popularity as pets and exhibition animals due to their good-natured personalities, friendliness and hardy constitution. (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_goat)
Blue Jasmine is a Nigerian Dwarf goat. The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a miniature dairy goat breed of West African ancestry. Originally brought to the United States on ships as food for large cats such as lions, the survivors originally lived in zoos. Nigerian Dwarf goats are popular as hobby goats due to their easy maintenance and small stature. (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigerian_Dwarf_(goat))
Both of our new goats are female adults about 5 years old, and at full size. They are dairy goats, but we don’t plan on milking them, plus they no longer produce milk anyway. They have already taken a liking to the students that have had the chance to visit with them.
Tune in for our next blog update where we’ll tell you about some of the exciting things going on at our garden and new hydroponics plant bed!
It’s almost like summer here at Pathfinder Ranch. The temperatures have been reaching up into the mid 70s to low 80s during the day and dropping just barely below freezing at night over the last week or so. The manzanitas have been blooming for weeks, and the flowers are starting to drop off exposing small berries. It is the berry of the manzanita that gives it its name (meaning little apple in Spanish). In just a few short weeks the berries will be ready for picking. The dried berries can be ground into meal to be used for food, or they can be picked and eaten fresh.
On April 6 there is an Agave Harvest off of Highway 74 just several miles from the ranch put on by the Malki Museum (the museum is located in Banning, CA). Go to their website at www.malkimuseum.org to find out more and to register to join in the harvest. One of our naturalists will probably be there joining in the fun. The Malki Museum will then teach how to roast the agave on April 13 at their location in Banning.
I have always loved quotes, as well as the author Sigurd Olson. He was one of the authors of the Wilderness Act and helped to form The Point Reyes National Seashore here in California. Read over the following quote and think about two things: 1. What are you curious about that has to do with nature? 2. What does it mean to have an “open mind?”
“While we are born with curiosity and wonder and our early years full of the adventure they bring, I know such inherent joys are often lost. I also know that, being deep within us, their latent glow can be fanned to flame again by awareness and an open mind.” -Sigurd Olson