Bear Yuba Land Trust BioBlitz brings students closer to nature
Getting students in nature is an important part of education, according to the members of the Bear Yuba Land Trust.
Recently, the Land Trust partnered with local elementary and high schools to offer four BioBlitz Field Trips on nature preserves in an effort to get more students outside and exploring the natural world.
“A BioBlitz is a great opportunity to encourage (students) to slow down and look closely at the natural world around them,” said Land Trust Co-Executive Director Erin Tarr. “Students, with the help of volunteer experts, work together to find and identify as many species as possible during a set time and location. They not only learn about local flora and fauna, but they also learn skills like cooperation, team building, and problem-solving. The information captured by the students is also incredibly valuable. It gives a biological snapshot of the land, which will help BYLT land managers track the health of the ecosystem over time.”
The field trips kicked off in late April with fourth-grade students from Scotten School who gathered on Woodpecker Wildlife Preserve in Nevada City. During the field trip, students hiked the Cascade Canal and Orene Wetherall Trails to discover the wide variety of plants and animals on the Preserve. BYLT volunteers Shane Hanofee with the California Native Plant Society and Rudy Darling with Sierra Foothills Audubon facilitated learning by offering their expert knowledge.
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Most notably, students witnessed the dogwoods in bloom, heard woodpeckers high in the trees and saw many interesting insects crawling on the forest floor and on the bark of towering pine trees. The other schools involved where Chicago Park Middle School, Nevada Union Adaptive PE, and Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning, with trips held at Hirschman’s Pond in Nevada City, Adam Ryan Preserve in Alta Sierra, and Rice’s Crossing Preserve North near Dobbins.
In addition to binoculars, hand lenses, and nature journals, students used the mobile app iNaturalist. One of the world’s most popular nature apps, iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society that helps identify the plants and animals near you. It connects users with a community of over 750,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature by identifying uploaded observations.
“This is a way for BYLT to enhance our education program and give back to the community,” said Tarr. “Getting kids outside to learn about the environment and conservation is an important part of our mission especially because land trusts and conservation easements are designed to exist in perpetuity.”
Studies show that kids who play outdoors are healthier, do better in school, have better social skills -, a better self-image and lead more fulfilling lives. When kids spend time outside, they begin to foster a wonder of nature and a feeling of personal responsibility to help conserve the environment.
BYLT exists to protect and defend the working and natural lands of the Bear and Yuba River Watersheds and to enrich the deep community connection with nature, in perpetuity. By enabling youth to explore nature, a deep connection for wild, open spaces is fostered. This year, 120 scholarships were granted to students, a total of $1,200. This was made possible by the generous contributions of community members who attended BYLT’s 2018 Open Spaces, Wild Places Gala. BYLT volunteers contributed 68.5 hours to this youth program.
To learn more and become a member, visit BYLT.org
Source: Bear Yuba Land Trust
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