Posts Tagged: Youth Development
My name is Valentina Evans, and I am a new volunteer at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center. My partners Benjamin Evans, and Zane Petersen have chosen to volunteer with me at the HREC for our senior project at Ukiah High School. A few weeks ago on the twenty-first of December we volunteered to help two researchers, Paulo who studied at UC Santa Cruz, and Wyath, who is still studying at Humboldt State University, to plant acorns from different ecosystems, and analyze how they will adapt to conditions with more water, less water, more sunlight or a lack of sunlight. This study is part of Dr. Blair McLaughin's study from the Zavaleta Lab at UC Santa Cruz.
We started off by digging holes about 1 foot deep and laying a thin square piece of chicken wire at the bottom of the holes to prevent gophers from entering and eating the acorns. We then took a circular strip of chicken wire and placed it on top of the flattened piece at the bottom. With the second strip of chicken wire standing horizontal, we continued by covering the holes with the same dirt we originally dug out. Now with the metal secured in place, Paulo came around and gently placed the acorns inside of the holes. The hands-on experience was extremely fascinating, not to mention peaceful. The view at the top of the hill was breathtaking, and the weather was just perfect. The entire process was tiring, but having had the opportunity to participate in a lab/research project made the whole experience worth it.
Although the project will not produce any data until the acorns sprout, the idea behind the project is captivating. Paulo and Wyath are studying the growth of oak trees from all sorts of climates, locations, and ecosystems. Some of the acorns are from northern California and others from way down in southern California. They will be monitoring the water levels, and amount of sunlight the oak trees will receive, all in hopes to see how the oak trees will adapt to different changes in their environments. Seeing as how I want to major in Biological Sciences in college, this experience was exceptionally informative for me and has taught me how critical patience, effort and time are in order to successfully accomplish a lab and receive the most accurate facts. I am very grateful to have been able to participate in this ongoing project and am looking forward to continuing to be a part of the younger generation who can benefit from having the Hopland Research and Extension Center available to us, to further our knowledge about the environment.
During 2017 over 3800 hours of volunteer time were offered at HREC! Our incredible volunteer team helps across all areas from citizen science on our phenology project to working with children and adults at our educational events. The California Conservation Corps also volunteer their time and enjoy learning new skills such as chainsaw safety and technique with us.
We are thrilled to welcome a number of new youth volunteers to this program at the beginning of 2018, including 16 year old Hercules Almond who comes to us with a sharp mind and wonderful way of expressing himself and the world around him, enjoy this, the first blog post from Hercules as he expresses his first experiences on our site:
"Driving up through the light mid-morning mist that envelopes the hilltops on the way to the Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC) is ever a joyous and smile-inducing trip to undertake from my home in Hopland. While I've only begun to truly frequent it, it has always been a place that I have enjoyed venturing to immensely, with its landscape rolling at points, being steep in others, sheep spotting the various fields and pastures as the sun may begin to shine through the cloud cover and bathe it all in a warm glow.
I find myself slightly taken aback by the sheer scope of activities and goings-on that occur here… between the vast diversity of flora, the myriad of fauna that can call it home, the enormous plethora of sheep, and how the local ecosystem works in concert with the factors that contribute to its development and evolution, the entire acreage holds so much potential for all manners of research, study, and boundless expansion upon our understanding of the natural world out here and all around us.
To be completely honest, I've been ecstatic about almost everything to do with nature and the wilderness since I was a small child, fascinated by the most miniscule of insects and most gargantuan of trees at the very same time, loving nothing better than to live out away from all the noise and congestion of both cities and towns in general. I'm at peace with little but the sounds of the wind and birds surrounding me as I stand in a damp forest or on the top of a high cliff that overlooks beauty that can seldom be found elsewhere outside places such as HREC... I feel genuinely lucky to have the opportunity to volunteer here and be in the midst of working side-by-side with the remarkable individuals who devote time to helping here."