Endangered Species Day delights and inspires budding naturalists of all ages

BVAS and Preserve Calavera held the fourth annual Endangered Species Day Open House May 21 at the BVAS Nature Center, to the delight of the 250-some participants.  Endangered Species Day was established by Congress in 2006, to promote understanding and action concerning threatened and endangered species.

The BVAS-Preserve Calavera team offered up a myriad of fun, creative, and interesting activities that helped youngsters explore gems offered at their local lagoon, as well as up-close encounters with animal ambassadors.

EcoVivarium and BVAS nature guide Dovie Christianson both returned this year with their animal ambassadors. Children fed and held Dovie’s tortoise and turtle, and learned why these animals become endangered. EcoVivarium’s Susan Nowicke engaged participants with her reptiles, which included an 8-foot python and monitor lizard, which guests held and snuggled with. New this year was the Raptor Institute; Danny Sedivec’s birds of prey delighted participants (and concerned a large group of local crows) and helped spread the word about why these birds are vital to a healthy ecosystem.

The California Indian Basketweavers, led by Diania Coudell, returned this year, and were swarmed by guests eager to create their own authentic basket. Ms. Coudell and her family are Luiseno Indians, and they harvest three local plants for basketweaving:  Juncus Textillas, Sumac Trilobata, and Muhlenberg Rillens. A display nearby helped guests learn about the Luiseno and Indian basketweaving culture.

Other favorites included the Lagoon Dip; volunteers collected aquatic creatures from the lagoon and kids ‘fished’ for them out of a large tub. Damselfly and dragonfly larvae, crayfish, ghost shrimp, and minnows were all exciting finds. The popular ‘bug walk’ netted various species of terrestrial insects, which kids observed up close under high-powered microscopes.

New this year was a nature journal-making and native seed ‘bombs’ station; seed bombs are clay balls mixed with native seeds that when tossed on the ground sprout native plants. We were thrilled to see that children not only made journals but were using them throughout the day, drawing pictures of insects, plants, and reptiles. Budding naturalists!

Various animal-themed masks were seen bobbing around the nature center, thanks to the mask-making table. Kids could choose from different endangered animal-themed masks to decorate. Upstairs, our birding team staffed a spotting scope and helped guests spot, identify, and tally birds. The Endangered Species Scavenger Hunt led families through various discovery stations, with the goal to help kids become aware of endangered species, how species become endangered, and how to protect species.

A new addition this year was a group of families organized by BVAS Board Member Danny DiMento, which began the formidable task of removing invasive species of plants from our new land. The crew worked hard for several hours, removing ice plant. This has made a noticeable dent in the invasive plants on the land and helped inspire these youngsters to continue to help in habitat restoration activities. Thank you to Danny DiMento and his crew!

This wonderful day couldn’t have been possible without the incredible hard work and dedication from the BVAS and Preserve Calavera volunteers! BVAS wishes to thank the 30+ volunteers that helped make this event the success that it was!Endangered Species Day 2016 monitor lizard M. Gass photo Endangered Species Day 2016 EcoVivarium M. Gass photo Endangered Species Day 2016 Dovie's tortoise M. Gass photo Endangered Species Day 2016 Carson Schneider Krummel photo by M Gass Endangered Species Day 2016 bug walk Endangered Species Day 2016 Basketweaving M. Gass photo Endangered Species Day 2016 Annette and Clara photo by M Gass Endangered Species Day 2016 mask making M. Gass photo Endangered Species Day 2016 Restoration crew Endangered Species Day 2016 Pam Green photo Endangered Species Day 2016 photo by Pam Green

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