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Education activities review: October 10 – 14

October 14, 2011

Pre-K to 12TH grade coastal science education

We have 9 EE programs scheduled with students next month – 8 Jammin’ Salmon Discovery Labs and 1 Careers in Marine Science program – with pre-school through high school students from Homer, Ninilchik, and Kenai. We are very excited to have retired teacher and Education Committee member Carole Demers volunteering to help out with these programs!

Public science education – Salmon in november!

We invite you to join us for our first public Discovery Lab since early August – Jammin’ Salmon – on Wednesday, November 2nd from 3 – 5 pm. Learn about what salmon need from their habitat in order to survive and return, participate in a salmon dissection, and bring in a natural object to donate or trade to the Nature Trading Post.

Have you ever wondered why there are 6 species of Pacific Salmon and only 1 Atlantic salmon species? Did you know that King Charles ate the last salmon from the Thames River? As part of our month-long focus on salmon ecology, we have invited and co-sponsored fish historian, author of King of Fish, and MacArthur Fellow David R. Montgomery to present The History of Salmon from 7 – 9pm at the Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center on Thursday, November 10th. He will speak about the human impacts on salmon over the last thousand years, with questions and answers after the talk.

For more information on the November 2nd lab, the Nature Trading Post, or David Montgomery’s talk, contact Catie at catie.bursch@alaska.gov or 226-4661.

Also tying into the salmon theme in November will be a salmon canning workshop, sponsored by the Homer Soil & Water Conservation District, and a November 3rd collaborative event highlighting research and conservation efforts on the Anchor River. The Anchor River event will be a partnership between KBRR and KHLT with presentations by Jim Hornaday (the Anchor Point Waltz), Carol Kerkvliet (on king salmon management), Lynn Whitmore (local perspective on Anchor River issues), Coowe Walker (on juvenile salmon habitat investigations), Sue Mauger (on stream temperature monitoring and backcasting/forecasting results of temperature trends), Geoff Coble (on the Anchor River watershed properties), and Marie McCarty (on Anchor River conservation efforts). Details for both events are still to be planned.

And the Homer Public Library’s weekly Story Hour on Wednesday, November 2nd (10:00 – 11:00 am) will focus on salmon-related books.

New education projects

We will be introducing a new feature in our lab classroom – the Nature Trading Post – at our November 2nd Jammin’ Salmon Discovery Lab. Housed in a corner of the Discovery Lab, it will be a collection of interesting objects from nature: a skull, a shell, a seed pod, a fossil….items visitors can trade for with a natural object they’ve brought in (though nothing alive please!). Research Reserve staff will assign points to a visitor’s incoming object based on 1) how “cool” the object is, 2) how much the collector knows about the object, and 3) whether or not they’ve written or created an artistic documentation of the object. Collectors can trade immediately for something that catches their eye, or Research Reserve staff can log their points for a future trade. The Nature Trading Post will be open during all public Discovery Lab times throughout the year.

Education collaborations

Last Friday education staff participated in the semi-annual Kachemak Bay Environmental Education Alliance’s (KBEEA) meeting. Glenn Seaman gave an overview of his Masters project (developing a strategy to address research and education needs for Port Graham and Nanwalek); Kyra Wagner gave our group an update on local food education initiatives; Carmen provided an update on topics discussed at the September Children & Nature Network Grassroots Leadership Gathering she attended in San Diego. Updates were given on planning for the June 2012 national NMEA conference (happening in Anchorage) field trip to Homer, Homer’s National Ocean Science Bowl team (high school students being coached by KBEEA members and partners), Kachemak Bay Science Conference, and individual organizations’ new programs. Various events – e.g. WinterFest, Winter Family Fun Day, Spring Break, May Discovery Lab – were discussed. A lengthy conversation about youth mentorship opportunities in Homer ended with a new KBEEA initiative: a pilot Growing Naturalists in Homer mentorship program next spring, with 4 organizations (KBRR, AMNWR, Pratt, and CACS) offering opportunities for job shadowing and program assistance to 2 or 3 local 7th – 9th grade students during the month of May 2012. Our next semi-annual meeting will be Thursday, February 23, 2012 at Ageya’s facility off Skyline Drive.

Carmen chaired a community gathering last Saturday for Nature Rocks Homer. Sallie Rediske gave a report on the status of Bikes Rock Homer, which has distributed 39 recycled/repaired bike to Homer residents of all ages since April 2011. Lee Post, Sallie Rediske and her family, Derek Reynolds, and Sue Post have been instrumental in making this program so successful; and Ulmers Hardware has recently donated nearly $10,000 worth of bike parts and repair equipment. Members discussed ways to streamline the bike giveaway process and bike storage issues. Carmen shared information, ideas, and initiatives from her participation in the September Children & Nature Network Grassroots Leadership Gathering in California. NRH members voiced support for continuing the coalition’s efforts to provide ways for teens to get across the Bay; members will look into funding and partnership opportunities for this in coming months. Nature Rocks Homer will partner with the Homer Playground Project (HoPP) to host a health outreach booth at the November 12th Rotary Health Fair. There was also discussion about news that recess for West Homer Elementary School students had just been cut by 15 minutes.

Coastal training program

On October 6th and 7th Megan and Kenny attended a Healthy Watersheds symposium in Soldotna, coordinated by the Habitat Committee of the Kenai River Special Management Area. This forum focused on the management of Kenai Peninsula watersheds and was facilitated by the Oregon State University Extension. Over 70 individuals participated from the following organizations and agencies: USFWS, ADF&G, National Wildlife Refuge managers, Kenai Peninsula Borough officials, Kenai Watershed Forum personnel, Army Corps of Engineers, Cook Inletkeeper, DEC, both the Homer and the Kenai/Soldotna Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Kachemak Heritage Land Trust, and more.

The first day and a half was comprised of presentations by Oregon State University staff & Washington state organization representatives on watershed functions, determining economic assessments of ecosystem service values, and watershed council lessons learned. The 2nd half of Day 2 allowed the entire group to discuss specific watershed issues on the Kenai Peninsula and possible next steps to move forward with for watershed conservation.

These were the surfacing next steps for discussion:

  1. The need for an economic assessment of ecosystem service values (natural resources or salmon, in particular). This information would likely better engage the ‘decision-makers’ and would help determine and align inter-agency priorities. This might also spur more opportunities for funding.
  2. The desire/need for an overarching Kenai Peninsula ‘watershed council/coalition’ that would have broad representation and would help set priorities and align regional watershed efforts. Discussion will build on the Kenai Peninsula fish habitat partnership as a model.

Marine life of Kachemak Bay

The Homer News featured a story this week on Hale Wilkinson’s Greenland wentletrap discovery last month – read about this young naturalist.

Hale donated one of his two wentletrap shells to our growing invertebrate collection last week; and on Monday we loaned this specimen to local naturalist and scientific illustrator Lee Post so that he could draw this new shell for his comprehensive portfolio of Kachemak Bay mollusc illustrations. We have a copy of Lee’s illustration if anyone would like to see it. A conversation between Lee, Catie, and Carmen yesterday has led to 2 new programs being planned for January – a 3-day, after-school scientific illustration workshop for students and an evening Drawing Nature artist workshop.

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