With the change in temperatures and a smattering of fall-like weather, this is a very nice time to be outside gardening. Now is the ideal time to plant natives, other ornamental perennials and cool season vegetables. Fall days are generally cooler, shorter and kinder to natives and other perennials. Plants put into the landscape in the fall lose less moisture through the leaves than in summer, and some of the heat of summer is retained in the soil which gives plant roots a chance to become established as the rains of winter set in. Fall is a great time to plant flowering plants, perennials and cool-season vegetables.
It’s here! The Master Gardeners of Nevada County Fall Plant Sale will be live and in-person at the Demonstration Garden Sept. 25 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Bring your wagons, boxes and buggies – come early for the best selection! We are asking that all visitors to the workshops or plant sale please, wear a mask.
From aster to salvias, arugula to winter squash we will offer a variety of plants for sale. In addition to asters, some of the flowering plants to be sold include black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta ‘Green Eyes’), California native spicebush (Calycanthus occidentalis), columbine, coreopsis, sedum and California fuchsia (Epilobium canum), to name a few. Cool weather veggies include “Garden Tangy” arugula, and varieties of kale, lettuce, and chard. For a complete list of plants check the website at http://ncmg.ucanr.org/. All plants are grown by UC Master Gardeners. Prices generally range from $3 to $7, depending on size of plant/pot. Payment is by cash or check only, please (no credit cards).
Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener
Doreen Fogle: Do native plants pose a fire hazard?
You may think that using or keeping native plants in your landscape automatically poses a fire hazard. They don’t. They are not “made to burn” as some have said. Many are drought tolerant and better at holding moisture in their foliage, making them less prone to burning.
Since plants are what burn in a wildfire, when it comes to protecting our landscapes and homes, there are several factors to address to improve fire safety.
You may want to clear all your land to keep your property safe from fire. But that cleared space invites weedy plants that need more maintenance to keep up with — weeds like Scotch broom, annual non-native grasses, and star thistle — and are more flammable.
And we’re in a megadrought, there isn’t enough water to keep sprawling lawns and moist vegetation in the 30 foot defensible space zone.
California is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. The plants that evolved here are naturally suited to periods of drought. Periodic fire is part of the natural landscape, too. Many plants resprout after being burned so they can establish quickly and to help keep hillsides protected and stabilized. Seeds of some plants need fire to germinate.
And native plants evolved with insects that feed on only native foliage which in turn feed birds and many other animals that are a part of our ecosystem. Without them our ecosystem weakens and can collapse — fewer insects, birds, fish, small and then large animals. And that means, to me, a lower quality of life forever.
So we must aim for greater fire resistance in our landscapes and including native plants preserves our ecosystem and the beauty that brought us all here in the first place.
Three elements that play a greater role than plant selection
These are plant and landscape maintenance, irrigation, and spacing plants and landscape elements for a more defensible landscape. Plant selection comes after these. The condition and environment the plants are in contribute much more to the flammability of any plant.
Pruning, thinning, and deadwood removal.
Dead plants, dead branches, and dead leaves should be removed. Leaves and pine needles on the ground should be removed and carried to green waste. Or better, chipped or shredded and added to compost piles to be used as mulch when they’re broken down. Or apply during the rainy season (should we have one again) so they can get packed down close to the soil. (See my previous article on mulch flammability).
Maintain a regular watering schedule to keep plants hydrated. For a drought tolerant landscape, especially with well-chosen native plants, this can be as little as two times per month. A deep watering session and mulched soil and you can keep an attractive landscape that benefits the birds, bees, and other wildlife of the region and uses little water.
See calscape.org/planting guide and read the Watering New Plants section for excellent information on how to establish new native plants and how they may deal with no supplemental water once they’re established.
Spacing plants for a more defensible landscape
Starting at the house, keep all flammable materials and all plants at least five feet away from it.
From five to 30 feet from the house, a rule-of-thumb is to space shrubs at least twice their height from each other. Further away you can plant clusters of trees and shrubs at least 10 feet from each other. The point is to break up continuity of vegetation while keeping a small plant community for better root growth and maintaining wildlife habitat. It’s prettier, too.
This is very basic. But here is one resource I’ve found informative: grassrootsecology.org/fire-resistant-habitat-at-home.
Some native plants that are more fire-resistant
No plant is fire-proof. And the fire resistance of any plant can vary with its environment and care. Looking through lists of fire resistant plants can be frustrating, many give conflicting answers. In fact, researchers say that very few plant lists are actually tested, mostly because the greatest factors are the condition and the environment the plants are in. They say that many lists are copied from each other and misinformation abounds.
With that said, here are a few native plants that are proven, somehow, to be fairly fire-resistant. The first is an example of one the confusing ones.
Manzanita is on many lists, both fire-hazard and fire-safe. It includes the large whiteleaf manzanita shrub as well as the low-growing ground cover types. This one comes from reputable sources and it dispels the commonly held idea that manzanita is a fire hazard. In a home landscape they can be maintained as mentioned above and be good. I accept valid differences of opinion on that.
Other natives that are good are Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), Coffeeberry (Frangula californica), the gooseberries and currants (Ribes species), western redbud (Cercis occidentalis), Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium), and a nice ground cover is creeping sage (Salvia sonomensis).
Home-hardening is most important
It’s been shown that up to 60% of burned houses are ignited by embers from up to 100 yards away, and not so much from landscape plants. This means that protecting your house from ember starts may be most important. You can find more information on home-hardening from grassrootsecology.org/fire-resistant/habitat-at home, see the Home Hardening section.
There’s no guarantee that all efforts to protect your home and outdoor spaces can prevent you from loss, not with the ferocity of the fires we’ve been seeing lately. But all measures can stack the odds in your favor.
Do consider native plants for your landscape, they do fit in to a fire-safe landscape. Get them in and put them on a good water-wise irrigation regimen, do regular maintenance (it’s much less than hacking down Scotch broom and thistles), and enjoy the wildlife, the fragrances, and the beauty your little part of California has to offer.
Calscape.org is your detailed guide to help you select species. You can find that Mulch and Flammability article online with The Union or on my website mydelightfulgardens.com.
Doreen Fogle is a landscape designer and writer in Nevada County. More of her articles can be found on her website mydelightfulgardens.com and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Melinda Myers: Fall landscape care to keep plants and pollinators healthy
As the weather and gardens transition from summer to fall, it is time to adjust your maintenance practices to ensure the health, longevity, and beauty of your landscape. Proper fall care will increase winter survival, support pollinators, and reduce your future workload.
Continue watering as needed. This is especially important for new plantings and moisture-loving plants. Don’t overlook established trees during extended dry periods. Drought conditions stress these key landscape plants, making them more susceptible to life threatening insects and disease.
Leave healthy perennials stand for winter. Many provide homes for pollinators and other beneficial insects and some seeds provide food for songbirds. You’ll enjoy the added texture and motion in your winter garden and the songbirds that stop by to dine.
Do remove diseased plant debris and those infested with plant-damaging insects. Removing these from the garden reduces the source of future infestations which means healthier plants with less pest management required. Contact your local municipality for guidance on disposing of pest infested plant debris.
This is also a good time to remove any small to medium sized dead or diseased branches from shrubs and small trees. A saw, like Corona’s 7-inch RazorTooth folding saw is perfect for this size job. The blade tucks into the handle for safe transport and the smaller size makes it easy to tuck into your tool belt or bucket. Disinfect the blade with rubbing alcohol or a disinfectant spray between cuts when pruning diseased plant material.
Don’t rake leaves to the curb this fall. Put them to use in the garden as mulch on the soil surface to help suppress weeds, conserve moisture, and improve the soil as they decompose. Leaves also provide insulation and winter protection for a variety of beneficial insects and toads.
Continue weeding the garden. Cooler temperatures and a shorter to-do list make it easier to squeeze in more time for this task. Removing unwanted plants from the garden reduces competition with desirable plants for water and nutrients. Eliminating weeds before they set seed means fewer weeds for you to pull next year.
Continue cutting the lawn as long as it continues to grow. Leave clippings on the lawn to add nutrients, moisture, and organic matter to the soil. A season’s worth of clippings is equal to one fertilizer application.
Don’t rake fall leaves off the lawn. Just mow over them as you cut the grass and accomplish two tasks in one. As long as the leaf pieces are the size of a quarter or smaller, they’ll break down, adding organic matter to the soil and not harm the grass. Make a second pass with the mower if needed to cut the leaves down in size.
After your last cut, clean and winterize your mower. Remove and sharpen the blades so you are ready for next season. Consider investing in an extra set of blades so you can change them throughout the mowing season. Sharp blades make a cleaner cut for a better-looking lawn that requires less water and a mower that uses less fuel.
Setting aside a bit of time this fall to prepare your garden for winter will result in less replacement and pruning of winter damaged plants.
Melinda Myers has written numerous books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally-syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Corona Tools for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ web site is www.MelindaMyers.com
World Animal Day fundraiser set for Oct. 3
Set under the gaze of the great lion emblem on the top of the Nevada County Bank building and the Lola and Jack flags featuring a bear and a bulldog, a special gathering to celebrate World Animal Day is happening in downtown Grass Valley on Oct. 3 during the Sweet Pickins Vintage Outdoor Market.
Hosted in their outdoor booth by the “cutest shop in town” Lola and Jack, a selection of animal-themed gifts will be dedicated to this fundraiser. The most delectable bakery around, Cake Bakery, will launch their new gourmet dog biscuit in celebration of World Animal Day. Puppet company, Swazzle.com, will present a Halloween photo booth featuring muppets Cat and Conrad the Condor and for a small donation, people can get their photos by photographer Sandra Boyd. People can also get a portrait in honor of their favorite animal painted on the new mural at the Grass Valley/Nevada City Animal Shelter for a donation as well. This event is the brainchild of animal advocacy nonprofit Rational Animal and funds raised will go to help local animal rescue organizations.
“World Animal Day is a great time to partner for the animals,” says Susan Brandt, founder of Rational Animal, the animal advocacy nonprofit organization she founded and now brings to Nevada County since moving to Grass Valley in 2016. “I’m so excited to be working with these big-hearted people who also have excellent businesses and organizations who are eager to dedicate this day to raising funds and awareness for our local at-risk animals.”
Community outreach representatives from Grass Valley/Nevada City Animal Shelter will join for a portion of the event to help answer questions from the public about the work of the shelter.
Also, newly formed The Birds of Prey Experience, an all-volunteer educational group providing information about wildlife, will also be there to meet the public with some very special birds.
Protocol to prevent the spread of disease is suggested for all attending.
Last year, Rational Animal’s World Animal Day fundraiser was online with music photography gallery Morrison Hotel Gallery and raised funds with the help of music icons who signed fine art prints including Stevie Nicks, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and Pete Townshend of The Who. Due to the success of this fundraiser, Rational Animal has been able to donate $10,000 to the UC Davis Wildlife Disaster Network and $1,000 to Gold Country Wildlife Rescue to help animals injured in the California wildfires. A $1,000 donation was also given to Sage Compassion for Animals helping low-income people with emergency vet care. Rational Animal has contributed to the following organizations in Nevada County: Grass Valley/Nevada City Animal Shelter (cases of dog food, homemade beds, “adopt me” vests); Wildlife Rehabilitation & Release (indoor signage, awards and grants for veteran rehabbers), Hospitality House Pet Program (leashes, muzzles and pet beds).
About Rational Animal
Rational Animal’s mission is to create media and events to increase awareness and help at-risk animals. Founded in New York City in 2002, and beginning our work in Nevada County in 2019, Rational Animal creates humane education events and media to increase awareness and help at-risk animals. Our programs include Mothers Comfort Project, where we organize sewing events for youth groups, schools and people of all ages to sew animal beds and toys for animal shelters; we create public service announcements and signage for local animal groups to promote their work for at-risk animals; and we award the Orange Animal Guardian Ribbon to people who do good deeds for animals. www.rational-animal.org @rationalanimalorg #orangeribbonforanimals #motherscomfortproject
About WORLD ANIMAL DAY
To raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe. Building the celebration of World Animal Day unites the animal welfare movement, mobilizing it into a global force to make the world a better place for all animals. It’s celebrated in different ways in every country, irrespective of nationality, religion, faith or political ideology. Through increased awareness and education we can create a world where animals are always recognized as sentient beings and full regard is always paid to their welfare. www.worldanimalday.org.uk/
Source: Rational Animal
Joan Merriam: Disaster planning
It happened in Paradise in 2018 … in Plumas and Sonoma counties in 2019 … in the Bay Area and the North Coast last year … and in Northern California, right now. Disastrous and deadly wildfires.
Drive ninety miles northeast — just fifty miles as the crow flies — and you’ll be in the heart of the Dixie Fire, the second largest in California’s history. Fifty miles to the southeast is the Caldor Fire. Both of them together have incinerated over a million acres, destroyed close to 1300 homes, killed uncounted numbers of wildlife, and forever changed the lives of us all.
I’ve talked about disaster planning before in this column, but thought now would be a good time to revisit the subject.
We all know, all too well, that it could happen to us.
Your Own Safety
First, of course, we need to ensure our own safety in case of a disaster: we can’t do anything to help our animals if we’re incapacitated. That means having a plan for quickly gathering your important items and your animals, knowing how to get out of your house, identifying the roadway escape routes, and establishing a communication plan that assigns someone outside your area to act as contact in case you get separated from your family.
Safeguarding Your Dog
First and foremost, make sure your dog is wearing a collar with up-to-date ID tags, which should include the dog’s name and your phone number (both landline and cell). It’s just as important that your dog be microchipped: it’s inexpensive and painless, and will help reunite you if your dog ends up in a shelter.
Make paper or digital copies of all your dog’s vaccination records — especially rabies — and make sure they’re easily accessible. Include details of any acute medical conditions and prescription medications.
Put a “Save my Pet” sticker in the window or near the front door so that firefighters know there is a pet inside. (I carry a similar card in my wallet to advise emergency personnel that I have animals at home if I’m injured or unable to communicate.)
Having both a human and canine “go bag” that you can grab instantly is critical. Your dog’s bag should include five days’ worth of food and water, medications or a medication list, first-aid kit, your veterinarian’s contact information, a recent photo of your dog, and a familiar toy or blanket that will help your dog feel safe in a strange location.
Remember that smoke from wildfires can be just as toxic to you dog as to you. Once you start smelling smoke, get your dog indoors immediately, and shut all the windows and doors. Avoid walks or extended time outdoors. If you’re uncertain about the air quality, go to AirNow or other sites that show the AQI in your area. Keep in mind that older dogs or those with cardiovascular or respiratory issues are at high risk of smoke irritation. If you notice continuous coughing or wheezing, difficulty breathing, nasal discharge, or eye irritation in your dog due to poor air quality, contact your veterinarian.
Prepare for the Worst
What if the worst happens and you find yourself facing an impending wildfire? I can’t say this strongly enough: EVACUATE IF YOU’RE ORDERED TO DO SO. Remember: an order is mandatory; a warning simply asks you to remain alert for an order. That being said, it’s best NOT to wait for a mandatory evacuation order, since leaving as soon as you get a warning makes the process less stressful, and helps you avoid tragedies such as being surrounded by fire when you’re caught in traffic backups. Remember: your home and possessions can be replaced, but your life and the lives of your animals can’t.
Always have a plan to get your dog out of the house if you’re evacuated. Pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed. (In the recent River Fire, one of my colleagues was unable to get home from work, and lost all three of her beloved dogs.)
What else can you do to prepare? Sign up for for Nevada County’s CodeRed, which sends emergency alerts to your cell or landline via text message, phone call, or email.
Go to CalFire’s Ready for Wildfire page for a printable evacuation guide.
Give a set of house keys to a friend or neighbor who can rescue your pets if you’re not home.
Finally, be aware that ash, flying embers, and nearby flames can be extremely dangerous for your dogs: not only are they at risk of direct burns to their coat and skin, they can also suffer inhalation burns to their respiratory tract.
Events like these terrible wildfires can make us feel helpless, but that doesn’t mean we’re powerless. There are things that every one of us can do to keep ourselves and our beloved companions safe — but we have to do it before that kind of crisis hits.
Joan Merriam lives in Nevada County with her Golden Retriever Joey, her Maine Coon cat Indy, and the abiding spirit of her beloved Golden Retriever Casey in whose memory this column is named. You can reach Joan at email@example.com. And if you’re looking for a Golden, be sure to check out Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue
Cheryl Wicks: Volunteers are priceless
Every month I write an article about some aspect of your pet’s behavior or medical condition.
This month I am writing with a slightly different twist; Sammie’s Friends would like to invite members of our community to volunteer at Sammie’s Friends. We could never do what we do without so many wonderful animal loving people helping out. We could never do what we do without so many wonderful animal loving people helping out. (I wrote this twice because it is that important and that profound.)
We have had volunteers from 16 years old to 93 years old over the years since the volunteer program started 20 years ago. Back when the volunteer program started there was a 68% euthanasia rate at the animal shelter and now it is less than 1%. Having volunteers quickly brought the euthanasia percentage down significantly. I once calculated that all the dog walking had equaled walking around the Earth three times and about 250,000 kitty kennels had been cleaned and about 50,000 phone calls had been answered. What on Earth would we ever do without those amazing volunteers?
We have had volunteers that started out 20 years ago walking dogs and as the volunteer aged they transitioned to the Kitty Kove working with smaller animals and as the volunteer aged more decided to volunteer at the Thrift Store and raise money to help the animals. That’s some kind of crazy dedication, I would say. A few Sammie’s Friends volunteers have been with us for the entire 20 years.
If you would like to volunteer (and we hope that you do) you can go to https://www.sammiesfriends.org/volunteer and read about the various volunteer opportunities and fill out our online application to get started. In summary there are opportunities working with the dogs, cats, in the office and our wonderful Sammie’s Nifty Thrift Store.
In the dog area, dog walkers are always needed, and people who can wash dishes, do laundry, mop floors and generally clean things up are always needed. In the cat area mostly cat kennel/room cleaners are needed to clean litter boxes and feed and water the kitties. Floors need to be swept and mopped, trash needs to be emptied, dishes and laundry need to be done.
In the office phones need to be answered and other kinds of office chores need to be done. At the Thrift Store volunteers are needed in the clothing area to sort, price and put out on the racks. Volunteers are needed to operate the cash registers.
If you have questions about volunteering Sammie’s Friends’ Kitty Kove can be reached at 530-274-1955. The dog facility can be reached at 530-471-5041. Sammie’s Friends Animal Shelter is located at 14647 Mc Courtney Road, Grass Valley, CA. 95949. Sammie’s Nifty Thrift can me reached at 530-273-0603. Sammie’s Nifty Thrift is located at 535 E. Main St., Grass Valley, CA. 95945.
Many thanks to the many volunteers in this community, at Sammie’s Friends and the many other nonprofits that need help.
You keep all the good work — that the nonprofits are able to provide — moving forward. You are priceless!
Cheryl Wicks is the Co-Founder and President of Sammie’s Friends
HOW TO VOLUNTEER
Kitty Kove: 530-274-1955
Dog Facility: 530-471-5041
Sammie’s Friends Animal Shelter: 14647 Mc Courtney Road, Grass Valley
Sammie’s Nifty Thrift: 530-273-0603, located at 535 E. Main St., Grass Valley
More info: www.sammiesfriends.org/volunteer
Gracie’s story: A miracle of rescue and healing
For the past five years I have volunteered to photograph local rescue animals to provide photos which are used to search for adoptive families. Every animal and their story is both heartbreaking and elating as local volunteers and donors contribute thousands of hours and funding to care for these disenfranchised animals and place them in new homes. This story is about Gracie, who had no hope for a new home; she was found on the streets of Modesto and placed in the Stanislaus Shelter with paralyzed hind quarters in addition to being malnourished. She was destined to be put down at the shelter.
One of our local Rescue Groups, Scooter’s Pals, became aware of Gracie’s prognosis and formally rescued her from the shelter. Scooter’s arranged for her to be fitted with her “wheels” which enabled her to walk unassisted and placed her with a Foster Mom in Grass Valley, Carol Rosevear. Gracie received treatment from a local Veterinarian to include several months of antibiotics for her bone infection and Sturvite stones in her bladder. She was also given high-nutrient food. In consultation with a homeopathic practitioner, Ms. Rosevear added laser therapy, water therapy, acupuncture, and massage with her own developed mud treatments to Gracie’s treatment plan. Then, approximately three months after Gracie was placed with Ms. Rosevear, she took her first steps unassisted by her “wheels.” Gracie has continued to walk on her own and is now awaiting her forever home as she is adoptable!
Sandra Boyd is a photographer in Nevada County
Savannah Hanson: The tenderness and mercy of the divine feminine
Holy Cow friends, are you feeling these monumental energy shifts that are moving us at jet speed into ever-deeper connection with source for those that choose this path? I know I am. So much has shifted so quickly it is not easy to choose one thing to focus on. Yet we (the voice of my inner guidance) told me to focus on the continuing arising of the divine feminine.
Just to mention a few of the major themes being presented to this one: being in the new, pulling in both divine masculine and feminine and bringing them into balance, showing mercy and compassion to the human creature, choosing our days with joy as a foundation. Wish I could expand on each of these topics.
What has arisen in the last days is a greater awareness of distortions in the spiritual path that I suspect are being revealed to more of us. Most of my mentors have been men that have served me so beautifully. Yet they also kept me looping in what I call the spiritual Nazi. I would use spiritual truths to whip myself whenever I could not comply with what I know to be true. OUCH! I recently was on a trip, unexpectedly alone, to Southern California. The drive is not something I love, to say the least, and deep fear that with the level of exhaustion that had been arising, I simply might not be able to do it at all.
So when I discovered there were huge energy shifts slated for the day of my drive home, I was truly frightened. The big remaining victim story I have been zero pointing (seeing as neutral, allowing the difficult physical energy to pass through) is that as a sensitive empath, when big energy arises, the nervous system might and often does go a bit haywire. Over the last six weeks I often have been incredibly exhausted. So I tried to pressure and force myself, whip myself with spiritual platitudes into doing it. Yet the days before the drive felt so dead tired I had trouble leaving the room. Eyes felt like lead weights, body was sluggish. Fortunately my friend Ellen intervened and counseled compassion and mercy.
A few weeks ago I had admitted on Facebook how needy I have been feeling. I recently remembered being told my mother could not pick me up for a long time a year after I was born due to a health challenge. This has been coming up strongly in need of allowing this energy to pass through. Sometimes I held it with gentle tenderness, other times it was like “get over it!”
Ellen helped me see truly how unkind I could be toward myself. In a real way she was the antidote to my unwillingness to hold the lost one. We had not spoken in over a year nor been in much contact in over a decade. Yet she was guided to reach out to me at the perfect moment.
My willingness to hold my own neediness allowed the universe to present others who would also hold me. Prior to this, two close friendships dropped away in the face of this neediness. I had done the same to a friend last year.
I detail this to give a taste of how this new energy arises. It is so different from the male model presented to me of “just do it!” This has space and compassion for the traumatized, the wounded, the human. It is a combination of both the need to be super aware of the power of the mind to create or mis-create and the need to be compassionate to the sometimes fragile creature, the human who just needs so much love especially when trauma, terror, despair, hopelessness show up.
Instead of kicking the human to the curb by shouting spiritual laws, the opportunity is to tenderly love where we are right now, not needing to be the ideal self. The yes is always to the one now, not the future one who has their act together. The divine feminine both requests and may demand with fierceness that we have compassion for self and other, never making another wrong despite what they may be doing. If we could see the great suffering that is behind unskillful behavior, it would be easy to extend only love.
The speed at which these new energies are arriving is unprecedented and requires impeccable self care. They are asking us to find the joy in our lives, the connection first to self and then to extend that inner spaciousness, once accessed, to others. It asks us for the greatest compassion for self and others. As always, this is my experience. Take what fits and leave the rest.
For information on private sessions or classes or to schedule a free 20-minute consultation, contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT #40422, Cellular Release Practitioner at 530-575-5052 or savannah@RaisedinLove.com
Rose Murphy: Financial aid for college
One of the most important actions families can take to pay for college is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you, or your child, are thinking about attending a university, community college or trade school in the next year, the following information may be helpful.
Oct. 1 marks the first day families can access, complete and submit the 2022-2023 FAFSA Application. Some families will skip the application, but I would like to provide you with some essential reasons to not pass up the opportunity to fill out this free application for need-based aid. By filing the FAFSA as early as possible, more time is available to research options and create your college fund availability.
Not completing the FAFSA in a timely manner could be a costly mistake. Nearly all students who apply will qualify for some type of aid. By filing the FAFSA, and for resident undocumented students, a CA Dream Act application, students may be offered government grants, low-interest loans as well as scholarships.
No matter the family’s financial situation, students will qualify for the Direct Federal Subsidized Loans through completing the FAFSA. The current Direct Federal Loan has a fixed interest rate for the life of each loan based on the year it is issued. Cal Grants are available to CA students who meet certain GPA and income requirements. Some students will receive funds that will fully cover their tuition at UCs, CSUs or community colleges. State and federal aid can generally be used to pay for tuition and living expenses at four-year universities, community colleges or trade schools.
Work study is also a benefit because the student can earn income while attending college. A student must complete the FAFSA to qualify for this option. Work study is usually on-campus, accommodates the student’s schedule, and matched to the student’s skills and interests.
The California Promise Grant has provided many benefits to students who attend community college. You may have heard of free tuition at Sierra College. Are there requirements for this? Yes, one of the requirements is to complete the FAFSA!
If a student does not submit the FAFSA, colleges may wait until after the deadline before they provide award letters. The deadline to submit the application varies from college to college. Missing these deadlines could jeopardize the student’s eligibility for aid. Some scholarships offered by organizations or institutions will request FAFSA information. Students could miss out on institutional-based scholarships if the application was not completed or delayed. For those planning to apply during the early decision or action rounds, these financial aid deadlines are often Nov. 1 or 15.
It is easy to submit your tax return using the IRS.gov Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). The retrieval tool will auto-populate your tax information into digital form. This assists in making it easier to complete the application and prevents mistakes. For those concerned with using the DRT submitting tax returns in an acceptable alternative.
It is helpful if students have a list of the colleges they will be applying to; ten schools can be listed on the FAFSA. The information will be sent directly to each financial aid office. The office at these institutions will then create a financial aid “package”. Students should list a state school first, in case they are offered state-based aid on a priority basis. Students can add or change schools to the FAFSA at a later date, as well. However, it is important to change the school names as soon as possible, as university grants run do out.
There is no age limit for receiving federal financial aid. If you are over the age of 24 and planning to attend a post-secondary school, it is in your best interest to complete the FAFSA.
Families can create a Federal Student Aid account by setting up a username and password. Each student and one of the parents will need their own FSA account (FSA ID). Both parents and students will need social security numbers.
If your family has received a reduction in income since the 2020 tax year contact the financial aid office at the colleges where your child is applying. Schools have the ability to assess your situation and adjust awards.
The CA mandate to have all seniors complete the FAFSA in their senior year will go into effect (most likely) in the 2022-2023 school year. This was added to the CA budget package in hopes that it would encourage all high school students to consider continuing their studies.
FAFSA provides free resources at https://studentaid.gov/resources.
Rose Murphy is a retired high school counselor now working as an independent educational consultant. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or abestfitcollege.com
Learn music composition through InConcert Sierra’s Composers Project
“The feeling of listening to music can only be rivaled by the creation of music itself,” affirmed Composers Project student Jamie Thomas-Rose.
The Composers Project is a comprehensive youth music education program, sponsored by InConcert Sierra and designed by composer and Education Director Mark Vance, that teaches Thomas-Rose and his fellow students how to compose music.
The Project is a nine-month series of classes and private lessons for ages 12-25 that provides in-depth instruction in composition, notation software, conducting, melodic and rhythmic dictation, theory, harmony, music history, ear training, solfege and rehearsal/performance techniques. The students receive input and master classes from both world-renowned and regional musicians and composers who have performed for InConcert.
During the year, students create two original compositions: one piece for voice accompanied by the student’s instrument of choice and a second composition for solo instrument or ensemble. Both works are premiered by professional musicians.
Each season, a community partner is chosen for the students to learn about as inspiration for their final works. During last season’s interdisciplinary second semester, the students studied about the increasing number of wildfires in California, climate change, and what different organizations are doing to help remedy those things. Experts from the lumber industry, Cal Fire, US Forest Service, and other fire and climate scientists worked with the class. This season’s community partner will be announced shortly.
To view how extraordinary both this program and its student musicians are, the final concert for the 2021-22 season can be viewed on InConcert Sierra’s YouTube channel. Past seasons, prior to COVID, concerts were performed live for community audiences. InConcert hopes to return to this format as soon as possible.
“This is a course students will want to include on college and scholarship applications and job resumes. You will meet some influential people who may be instrumental in your pursuit of musical goals, while attending concerts that you may otherwise never hear. It is a meaningful and powerful experience,” said Vance.
Students, parents, and musicians rave about this program. One parent wrote, “I want to thank you very much for the wonderful, enriching opportunities through the Composers Project and your dedication to their learning. It’s such an enriching experience for our son!”
From student Baraka Anderson, “Thank you for continuing to teach this awesome program during the pandemic over Zoom. I look forward to the next year of being in the Composers Project.”
Pianist and InConcert’s Artistic Director Ken Hardin said, “I love performing the works these young students compose. I wish there had been a course like this when I was a teenager; it would have been incredible.”
The first Zoom class meeting is scheduled for Saturday morning, Sept. 18, 10 a.m. to noon. Classes will be both in-person and via Zoom, dependent on public health guidelines.
The nine-month course is $1,200 for new students and $1,100 for returning students. Payment plans are available. Applications are currently being accepted online at https://www.inconcertsierra.org/composers-project/. Late applicants are also accepted.