BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 535

Educational Events Big and Small, the CDD Team Does Them All!

Versatility and flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to providing outdoor education to the public in Southern California. Whether it’s setting up a small exhibit on a picnic table in a park, or appealing to masses of people, the California Desert District team of Barbara Croonquist, Jennifer Wohlgemuth, and volunteer Dee Dechert tackle the challenge.

Otay Regional Park is a tiny island of nature just four miles north of the Mexican border and eight miles south of downtown San Diego. Yet the second annual Otay Valley Regional Park Day was an intimate day with nature for the 200 to 300 people who participated in the event.  With six educational booths and guided native plant walks that included BLM’s Reptiles of Southern California, there was plenty of activity to thrill even the youngest visitors. After spending nearly an hour learning about the BLM critters, one young girl decided that she wants to be a biologist when she grows up.   Another woman stumbled upon the event and was ecstatic that she now has a place where she can hike and learn about native plants and animals. (text continues below)

two women hold a desert tortoise as another watches
Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox learns about desert tortoises from BLM volunteer Dee Dechert.

After tucking the reptiles safely away in their cages, the CDD team travelled to San Pedro the next day to participate in the 20th anniversary of the Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur.  There, the team put on their California Coastal National Monument (CCNM) hats to visit with about 2,000 people. Kids galore colored CCNM buttons, played in the table tide pool with plastic sea creatures, and stamped Look Who’s Rockin coloring sheets as the team shared their CCNM knowledge with the parents.  One gentleman came to the table proudly announcing “I know who you are!  You have 10,000 rocks!” We all looked at each other and nodded in agreement, “Close enough” we said, and knew it had been another day well spent.

a girl in a pink flamingo cap looks through a magnifiying strip
Kids played in our CCNM tide pool -- without even getting wet! -- and and learn how to use magnifiers.

children hold their hands by their sides of their heads as they follow a Native American Indian in dance
Visitors to Otay Valley Regional Park participate in traditional Native American dances with Eric RunningPath of the Navajo tribe.

a Native American wearing traditional dress stands by a teepee
Eric RunningPath of the Navajo tribe stands near his exhibit which combines cultural elements representing many tribes throughout the nation.

kids and adults gather around a table with ocean displays
There was something for everyone at the CCNM booth at the Marine Mammal Care Center.

a sea lion looks out from its pool
One of the "patients" at the Care Center reminds us why we have places like the California Coastal National Monument.

two smiling women sit behind a display table
After greeting several thousand visitors, Jennifer Wohlgemuth and Dee Dechert are still smiling at the end of the day.

- Barbara Croonquist, Public Contact Representative, BLM California Desert District (June 11, 2012)

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 535 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: mailto:Join-Newsbytes@List.ca.blm.gov OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.