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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: A New Adventure | 12-21-2016
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1914 - Signal newspaper owner-editor Scott Newhall born in San Francisco [story]


| Wednesday, Dec 21, 2016

evelynevandersande_mugThe holidays are upon us, and we all run from one activity to the next: parties, shopping, baking. Writing all those cards has become less of a chore since we send many more via the internet. But there are always those friends who send you a card in the last week, and you try to respond in a timely manner as if it had been your plan all along to send a card just before the New Year. Shopping does not necessarily mean you have to go to the mall and look endlessly for a parking space, the internet has also relieved some of your anxiety on that score. However, you still end up looking frantically for a gift for the beloved teacher on the evening before the last day of school!

I remember a time when we waited for the “garbage men” or the “mail men” to give them an envelope to thank them for their work during the year!

While you are running behind the clock, it does not seem possible that all this stress will be over in 2 weeks. The New Year will come along and after one blissful week with nothing happening at all, you are going to feel like a deflated soufflé. What are you going to do with this New Year of 2017 stretching out with a long list of empty days in front of you? Do you remember your New Years’ resolutions? You were going to learn something new this year…you were going to enlarge your circle of friends. You were not going to procrastinate and you were going to make it happen right away. Whatever you were going to do, it should be close by because, for sure, you do not want to commute on the freeway. It would be nice if it could be outdoors for some of the time. After all, where else but in California can you be outdoors in the winter? You should take advantage of that somehow…Maybe you are getting a little bit older so you have more free time on your hands, but having fun with kids sounds like a good idea, too.
Do you want all this wrapped up in one nice package?

I have one answer for you. And even better, you will make a difference in your community, so you will gain something for yourself in the process and are also going to help total strangers. This is a sure plan, with success guaranteed from the start:

I want to present to you the Volunteer Naturalist Training at Placerita Canyon Natural Area.

What do they do there, and do I need any experience?

You do not need any special background, but you do need to attend the docent training and to be able to volunteer twice a month after you finish your training.

The training starts Tuesday, January 10 at 9.00 a.m.

The classes meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and it is a 9-week training program. The cost of the training is $45.00, which includes all training materials (instruction manual, field guide, T-shirt, and related items).

The minimum age to be a volunteer naturalist is 18.

We have found that some young people, looking for a job, attend our classes to add valuable experience to their résumé and become a more desirable candidate for certain job openings. Very often, they also form a lasting attachment to Placerita and the nature education our park offers, and they come back as volunteers when their schedule allows.

What are you going to learn at Placerita?

Class topics include native plants, ecology, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, geology, history and interpretive techniques to apply your knowledge on the trails. Our instructors include noted professionals in the various fields.

Each class will give you a solid background to understand each topic and it is up to you, if you are interested, to further your knowledge.

Each class is on DVD, so you can review the material at any time.

Even more fun, the other docents are always willing to share their knowledge, take you on the trail and answer questions.

Placerita is not a place for egos, everybody is there to learn and support one another, share stories and become a new friend. If it sounds too good to be true, I recommend that you come for a visit and check the place out…maybe on a Saturday from 1 to 2 pm during the animal presentation? That will give you a true flavor of the place, you might never go home!

I did not even mention the animals. When you come to Placerita, you will see a sample of some of our birds on the patio: the red tail hawk, turkey vulture and raven. Those animals could not be released in the wild because of previous injuries and they are used to teach the visitors about the local wildlife. We have many more animals inside the building: different kinds of owls, snakes, tarantula, bees, skunk etc. You will learn to handle some of those animals (only if you are interested) and some stay inside their habitat but you will learn about them and you will be able to teach the visitors about them.

That is one of the most fun and interesting parts of the class and it is always a joy to see new volunteers becoming bee or grizzly experts. It happens on a regular basis that a new student finds a passion for a topic, learns on their own more that we thought was possible, and becomes a teacher giving presentations and sharing their new knowledge during different nature education programs.

Passion is what is going to happen to you. Be aware of that… If you want your life to take a whole new direction, share fun experiences and enjoy nature around you at a whole new level, please call Placerita Nature Center at 661.259.7721 or visit the web site at placerita.org.

Happy New Year to all, and my best wishes for a great and healthy new year, full of fantastic new adventures.

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3 Comments

  1. jim says:

    That sounds interesting. I remember a biologist/naturalist at Placerita back in the late 80’s-early 90’s who was a relentless advocate for keeping the canyon pristine. He also led tours down in Central America and perhaps even the islands (Puerto Rico?). I think his name was Frank Devore, but that could be a by-product of an aging memory. Still, he was an intense and persuasive figure around the park.

    Any idea what happened to him Leon?

  2. jim says:

    Ding, ding, ding! Thanks for clearing that up – and helping me to remember a bit more. Frank was quite a guy. He did retire from the County and then in 2006 passed away from a heart attack on a beetle collecting trip in Ecuador.

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