[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
78°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
September 21
1974 - COC's new Cougar Stadium opens for first game of football season; Harbor beats COC, 26-21 [story]


Let's Go Outside | Commentary by Evelyne Vandersande
| Thursday, Nov 14, 2013

evelynevandersande_mug“To inspire a passion, awareness and respect of the environment, and to preserve and protect for future generations the history and ecosystem of Placerita Canyon.” This is the mission statement for the docents and volunteers at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center. We have found that nature education is a great tool to take daily steps toward our goal.

This is why we have school groups coming to Placerita from Monday to Friday. This is why we have educational programs on Saturday, as well as outreaches at different places throughout the month.

This is also the reason we have educational programs once a month on Sunday, when we realized it was a slow day and we could start something new to bring crowds to learn about new topics. (Check Placerita.org for our special programs.)

eve121413aWe found that by starting with educating the kids, we were getting ahead faster. The kids are good ambassadors. They do a good job of convincing their parents by bringing new ideas into the household and setting higher standards.

Here are a few examples:

A harried father is getting out of the house to drive to the supermarket to pick up a few items. His daughter catches him at the door. “Dad, you are forgetting your shopping bags and you are going to be sorry when you are at the cashier.” Dad does not grind his teeth because he knows he has to set a good example, “Thanks, dear. Do you know where your mom left them? I will put them in the car so we don’t forget them again.”

Change of scene…

eve111413c“Mom, I looked in the garbage can and there was a lot of paper and plastic in it so I went to the garage, found this box, reorganized your kitchen closet and now, it will be much easier to recycle.” Mom tries not to rush to see what “reorganize your kitchen closet” means; she thanks her son, and you can bet recycling will become an everyday affair from now on.

I have conducted many interviews in the past, and there is always a major question I need to ask. I find it important, and I ask people to take the time to answer it carefully: “How did your love of nature start?”

Most of the time, it starts in early childhood with a family member who already had in interest in nature. It was a little spark of knowledge, showing a plant or an animal, sharing a camping experience or a hike in the hills. It did not seem like much when it was happening, but it can have a profound influence on a fresh mind. We are all mentors and teachers, and we can give this gift easily and enable somebody else to become interested and enjoy the outdoors.

It works for other people, but it works for you, too: If you see ants crossing your patio in a long line, you have the choice of flushing them with your garden hose, or you can go on your hands and knees to check what they are doing. Are they starting a new colony? Did they find something to eat and they are going back and forth? I have learned to check many of my questions on Google. Why do ants march in a line? There is an answer to that…

Nature education is important because it gives you respect for your environment. That’s good, but I will be self-centered: It gives you more pleasure, too.

Consider: Often you sit outside with your laptop and coffee and see birds to the left and right, almost in a blur, and you do not pay much attention.

Say you went on a bird walk last week. People were wearing binoculars and identifying birds. You did not know any of the names at first, but you started to be part of the game and were able to put the name and the bird together. By the end, you were kind of proud because you could recognize a few, and you finally were able to handle those binoculars with more confidence.

eve111413dA week later you notice you remember a few names. Here is that blue bird you always called a blue jay; you found out it is actually called a Western scrub jay, and you repeat that with a certain pride. What is the bird doing? It just made a hole in my lawn and covers it with leaves. Would it be hiding some food? But how will it remember where it is? Oh, there is another Western scrub jay watching what it is doing. Scrub jay No. 1 is screaming like a maniac at scrub jay No. 2 and almost attacks it. Scrub jay No. 2 retreats in a hurry but is perched not too far away, still spying. My back yard is a battlefield and I had no idea.

This is what I meant when I said nature education gives you more understanding of what is around you. You start noticing all kinds of little details: new plants, bats in the evening, bird calls. The names are not too important to remember, but what is happening, is.

I want to remind you there is a bird walk every second Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Placerita State Park for all level birders, led by Rosemarie Regis. There is another one at the Castaic Lake Recreation Area on the first Saturday of the month at 8 a.m., led by Roger McClure.

Sometimes, special events unfold, and if you have some nature education, you look at the event with different eyes.

A few weeks ago, three mountain lions were spotted in Saugus, during the afternoon. That is uncommon. If you have an understanding of mountain lions, the visit to Saugus was intriguing, I grant you, but the fact that there were three of them together was the unusual part.

They are animals that lead solitary lives. Male and female get together only for mating purposes and need a large territory where they are the only mountain lion hunting in that zone, to be able to survive. Three of them together? There is only one time in their life where this situation would happen: We came to the conclusion that it was a mother with two juvenile mountain lions. They were full size, and they were looking for a territory to be able to leave Mom and start their adult life.

eve111413bMany new houses have suddenly appeared in areas that were open just a few years ago, so establishing a new territory takes some walking around and checking of the situation. I guess Saugus sidewalks won’t do the trick, so they kept on walking.

As I mention mountain lions, it is always a good idea to repeat a few safety precautions. Do not hike alone, keep children close to you, do not approach a lion. This seems so completely obvious, but give them space and a way to escape. Do not run from a lion. If you do, you will become their prey.

I found some more information to understand the situation clearly. In Nepal, some research was done on tigers and leopards killing cattle and domestic water buffalos while ignoring humans standing nearby. A human standing up is not the right shape to be considered prey for a cat, but a person squatting or bending over looks like four-legged prey. If you run, you are definitely prey.

So what should you do?  Make yourself appear larger by raising your arms, opening your jacket, picking up small children and putting them on your shoulders – but do not bend over to do so. Speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey, and you could be a danger to it.

If you are attacked, fight back and protect your neck and head. Do not play dead; others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands.

I started this article in a pleasant way and finished in blood and gore. I sure hope this will never happen to any of my readers, but nature education sometimes can make a difference between life and death … or a pleasant hike, listening to the birds.

Remember those bird walks, and come enjoy nature with us.

 

 

Evelyne Vandersande has been a docent at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center for 27 years. She lives in Newhall.

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Friday, Sep 14, 2018
Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage have different benefits and costs that you should consider based on your personal needs. Medicare open enrollment season runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, and it’s a good idea to know how the two types of Medicare work before you select one.
Wednesday, Sep 5, 2018
In his September column, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin outlines the city's 'Heads up' safety campaign against distracted driving and walking.
Tuesday, Sep 4, 2018
Nestled between the sports fields and hiking trails at Central Park is a grove of tree stumps.
Wednesday, Aug 22, 2018
If we can secure U.S. Rep. Steve Knight’s leadership, we have the chance to improve recreational opportunities and protect open space in the mountains that flank and define the Santa Clarita Valley.
Thursday, Aug 2, 2018
City Manager Ken Striplin notes that a lot has changed in Santa Clarita since the 1970s, except the SCV Sheriff's Station, which opened 46 years ago and will finally be replaced by a brand-new 46,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, centrally located Sheriff’s Station on Golden Valley Road.
Wednesday, Aug 1, 2018
​There are many things that make our City the unique and special place it is.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, Sept. 25, starting at 9:30 a.m.
Sept. 25: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
The city of Santa Clarita has received the District Transparency Certificate of Excellence by the Special District Leadership Foundation in recognition of its outstanding efforts to promote transparency and good governance.
City Awarded Transparency Ceritficate of Excellence
College of the Canyons was ranked among the top 50 best U.S. colleges for adult learners in Washington Monthly magazine’s ranking of “Best Two-Year Colleges for Adult Learners.”
COC is No. 1 U.S. College for Adult Learners in SoCal
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday inked legislation aimed at breaking society’s “infatuation” with plastic straws, beginning in 2019.
California First State to Restrict Plastic Straws in Restaurants
A teenage female driver escaped serious injury when her van tipped over onto its left side on Dorothy Street in Santa Clarita Friday morning, according to authorities.
Teen Driver Escapes Serious Injury in Solo Tip-Over Crash
1974 - COC's new Cougar Stadium opens for first game of football season; Harbor beats COC, 26-21 [story]
The Old Town Newhall Association’s Chalk Art Festival is coming this weekend with dozens of local artists and organizations ready to share their works with the Santa Clarita Valley community.
Organizations, Local Artists Taking Part in This Weekend’s Chalk Art Festival
County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) encourages all pet owners to be prepared before disaster strikes.
Animal Care & Control Encourages Pet Owners to Prepare for Disasters
The contemporary art journal X-TRA and the Broad Museum in Downtown Los Angeles present, "The Un-Private Collection Workshop: Edgar Arceneaux" on Saturday, Sept. 22.
Sept. 22: CalArts Alum Presents Financial Workshop at Broad Museum
NORTHRIDGE - Senior defender Lindsay Kutscher has been selected as one of 30 women's soccer candidates for the Senior CLASS award.
CSUN’s Lindsay Kutscher Candidate for Senior CLASS Award
The Center for Digital Government (CDG) has presented the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation with one of its Best of California Awards, which recognize state and local government organizations for innovative technology initiatives.
County Parks & Recreation Recognized with Best of California Award
The city of Santa Clarita and Caltrans engineers have partnered with Caltrans to provide traffic enhancements.
City Implements Traffic Improvements at Sierra Highway, Golden Valley Road
Continuing the momentum developed from such programs as iTEENS during the school year and the Teen Summit hosted earlier in 2018, the city of Santa Clarita will host a teen leadership development training on Wednesday, Sept. 26, from 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., at the Newhall Community Center (22421 Market Street).
Sept. 26: ‘I Can Achieve Now!’ Teen Leadership Workshop
NORTHRIDGE - CSUN's Michael Merchan has been named Co-Big West Athlete of the Week for men's cross country. Merchan is the first Matador men's cross country student-athlete to earn the award since it was established in 2001. Merchan shares the honor with Nick Randazzo of UCSB.
CSUN’s Merchan Nabs Big West Co-Athlete of the Week
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla stopped by Golden Valley High School Wednesday morning to encourage students to register to vote.
CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla Encourages Local Students to Vote
SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the California Air Resources Board, and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed suit Tuesday against the Trump Administration for its unlawful attempt to dismantle critical environmental waste protections.
Becerra Sues Trump Admin for Unlawful Attempt to Dismantle Waste Protections
Kaiser Permanente will open all seasonal flu clinics throughout Southern California on Saturday, Sept. 22, and urges all members to get their no-cost vaccinations early.
Sept. 22: Kaiser Permanente Opens Seasonal Flu Clinics Throughout So Cal
On Tuesday, The Home Depot Foundation increased its financial support to $3 million for disaster relief efforts and communities impacted by recent disasters, including Hurricane Florence, Olivia, the California wildfires and flooding in the Midwest.
Home Depot Foundation Increases Financial Support for Disaster Relief Efforts
Los Angeles County took a major step towards fostering a vibrant business ecosystem to help the local bioscience industry reach its full potential as a job-creating economic engine that advances breakthroughs in global health.
County Committed to Becoming Bioscience Global Leader
SACRAMENTO – Every day, thousands of parents and caregivers in California travel with children in their vehicle.
Sept. 23-29: Child Passenger Safety Week
The 3rd annual Gran Fondo Santa Clarita will be held Saturday, Sept. 29, beginning at 8:00 a.m.
Sept. 29: Gran Fondo Santa Clarita
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce invites you to their 34th annual Oktoberfest Golf Tournament, sponsored by Chiquita Canyon. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.
Oct. 22: SCV Chamber’s 34th Annual Oktoberfest Golf Tournament
1954 - C-46 cargo plane crashes at Saugus Drunk Farm; Civil Air Patrol chaplains parachute to safety [story]
Filmmaker Magazine recently unveiled its annual roundup of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film, and CalArtians Hannah Peterson (Film/Video MFA 2018) and Richard Van (Film/Video MFA 2018) were included on the 2018 list.
CalArtians Among Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Indie Film
The 19th season of KCET's Fine Cut Festival of Films will premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 9 p.m. on KCET in Los Angeles, and of the 16 finalists chosen, four films are by CalArtians from the School of Film/Video.
Four CalArtians in KCET’s Fine Cut Festival of Films
The Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday reinstated right-handed pitcher John Axford from the 10-day disabled list and left-handed pitcher Tony Cingrani from the 60-day disabled list, and recalled right-handed pitcher Yimi Garcia from Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.
Dodgers Reinstate Axford, Cingrani from DL; Recall Garcia
The Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of the county of Los Angeles has released Notice of Funding Availability Round 24-A, which will provide capital funding and vouchers for the creation and operation of multifamily rental housing units.
County Releases Funding Application to Increase Affordable Housing
The Master's University women's basketball team's schedule for 2018-2019 looks something like the NAIA Division 1 national tournament bracket from a year ago.
Master’s Women’s Basketball Unveils 2018-2019 Schedule
There's a sense in which this week's No. 14 ranking, the program's highest since 2013, validates last season's rebuild for The Master's University women's volleyball team.
A Peek at the Polls: TMU Women’s Volleyball Rises to No. 14
The Mustangs men's golf team pushed into second place on Monday at Olivas Links Golf Course in Ventura before falling back into a tie for sixth by Tuesday's finish.
Dudeck, Brueckner’s Hole-in-One Highlight Ventura Match for TMU
Florida National University spotted The Master's two first-half goals and then scored four unanswered goals spanning both halves to post a 4-2 win over the Mustangs on Reese Field on Tuesday.
Mustangs Men’s Soccer Team Falls to Florida National 4-2
The city of Santa Clarita will present a visual arts symposium at The Centre on Saturday, Oct. 20, free and open to the public.
Oct. 20: Free Visual Arts Symposium at The Centre
Six different Mustangs scored in an 8-0 win over Mills College on Sunday, the non-conference win lifting Master's to 6-2-1 on the season and extending its winning streak to three.
Six Mustangs Score in Win Over Mills College
College of the Canyons' women's volleyball team (5-4) took down the Warriors 3-2 to begin the day, then played a tough five-set match vs. No. 8 Grossmont College, eventually falling 3-2.
COC Volleyball Claws No. 3 El Camino, Goes 5 with No. 8 Grossmont
College of the Canyons competed at the California Community College Athletic Association Southern California Preview on Friday, providing the Cougars with an early look at the regional competition that will be vying for a trip to the state championship meet later this fall.
Cougar Cross Country Teams Compete at SoCal Preview