Sonoma State University hosts largest youth campus tour ever

Here’s an article in the Press Democrat about the outreach I took part in last week at SSU:

Photo from Press Democrat

Hundreds of elementary and middle school children swarmed the cafeteria, dorms, quads and halls of Sonoma State University Thursday for what’s becoming an annual tradition.

It’s the second year the Rohnert Park campus has hosted “I Am the Future Day” for the Sacramento nonprofit Roberts Family Development Center, which provides academic and other services to hundreds of economically disadvantaged children and their families. The event is intended to give children a “taste of college” to encourage them to pursue higher education.


You can read the entire article here:

Campus-Wide Outreach Event!

Taking a quick break from Summer School posts to share something that happened on campus today: the school hosted about 450 elementary-aged students from the Roberts Family Development Center, a CDF Freedom School. Departments from all across campus set up hands-on activities, the Rohnert Park Fire Department and Police Department came out to say, “Hi,” and it seemed as though a good time was had by all!

Our Biology Department activity focused on insect defenses – particularly camouflage and warning displays. We had a dissecting scope set up with butterflies for the kids to view, a nice display on insect defenses, some books, a coloring station, and some live critters. Unsurprisingly, the live insects were a bit hit, but the star of the show today was definitely Rose, the department’s Chilean rose tarantula. (She’s my favorite)!

Rather than write any more about this, I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves. 🙂 Outreach is so much fun.

Here’s the coloring page, if you’d like to join in. I’ve also included some suggested colors, but of course you are welcome to color it any way you’d like! 🙂

Animals of Our Creeks, Rivers, and Marshes

Had an amazing evening with some of the folks at the Sonoma Land Trust – They graciously invited me to speak as part of their 40th anniversary speaker’s series, and I gave a talk on wildlife in freshwater habitats in Sonoma County. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!


What a great audience . . . they were engaged, and they laughed at my stupid jokes (hahaha), and then they asked me nearly an hour’s worth of questions after I finished my presentation. Really grateful for this opportunity to talk about some of the cool critters we have living in our local waters! (And I learned loads of stuff from them, as well . . . it was a wonderfully well-informed bunch of people). The SLT folks were all really wonderful, too. *hugs* SO MUCH FUN!!!!

I’ve been invited to speak . . .

. . . as part of the Sonoma Land Trust’s 40th Anniversary Speaker’s Series. I’m super excited about this opportunity – any chance to talk about cool local wildlife sounds amazing to me! Information from their website reproduced below.

40th Anniversary Speaker Series
Wild Animals of Sonoma County

As part of the celebrations for our 40th Anniversary, and in view of the overwhelming interest we’ve received for our work on wildlife corridors, we are offering a very special series of talks about the fascinating wildlife of Sonoma County.

May 4: The Northern California Serengeti: Sonoma’s Wild Past by Breck Parkman outside Sebastopol

May 11: Animals of Our Creeks, Rivers and Marshes by Wendy St. John in Petaluma

May 18: Coexisting With Mountain Lions — Sonoma County’s Apex Predators by Quinton Martins in Sonoma

May 25: Mammals on the Wing: Bats of Northern California by Greg Tatarian in Santa Rosa


River Otter
River Otter

Animals of Our Creeks, Rivers and Marshes
by Wendy St. John
May 11 (Wednesday), 6:30—8:30pm, at the Petaluma Community Center, 320 N McDowell Blvd., Petaluma

Here in Sonoma County, we are fortunate to have a variety of freshwater systems that support a rich diversity of animal and plant life. Our marshes, wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes and ponds provide habitat for many native and at-risk species. Wendy St. John, a professor in both the Biology and Environmental Studies and Planning departments of Sonoma State University will focus on some of the wildlife found in these watery habitats, such as beaver and otter, steelhead and salmon, turtles and lizards, and maybe even a few plants!


Super Science Saturday – Mountain Lake

I was at this event, representing SSU. (As a matter of fact, that’s my son at the far left of the first photo, at the booth he and I were manning). Super cool!

“Last Saturday, over 200 people gathered at Mountain Lake for Super Science Saturday, a celebration of the reestablishment of native wildlife populations at the lake. The day was filled with fun activities like face painting, information booths, and turtle-related crafts. Highlights of the day included the second and final release of Western pond turtles into the lake and a talk by San Francisco Zoo‘s Jessie Bushell on the partnership between the Presidio Trust, Sonoma State University, and the SF Zoo that made the turtles’ return possible. Event attendees watch from the lake’s edge as Trust staff released 26 turtles. This group joins 28 other Western pond turtles released by the Trust in July. This threatened species is the only freshwater turtle native to California. Their release into Mountain Lake is a big boost to conservation efforts for these unique and beloved animals, and another big step in the ongoing restoration of the lake.”