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ENC invites local educators to learn, implement hands-on science education with two workshops

by Lola Olvera, ENC Communications Intern As ENC Naturalist Fiorella Gardella says, not all learning happens “behind a book.” At the ENC, most of it happens outdoors. On January 23, Citizen Science for Educators — Gardella’s brainchild and the ENC’s first-ever program of its kind–finally comes to fruition, bringing together teachers and soon-to-be teachers to learn about citizen science projects and inspire them to bring hands-on science learning back to their own classrooms. “To have kids learn that they can contribute to real life science-that is exciting to me,” says Gardella. Under her guidance, participants will record data as they familiarize themselves with spotting different varieties of butterflies, hummingbirds and even plants. Instructors can partner with middle and high school aged ENC volunteers to practice teaching their…

Wolves and Coyotes and Dogs, OH MY!

Skie Bender of Wolf Haven International will present “Wolves, Coyotes and Willdife!” on January 26, 2017 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. The program takes a close look at the differences and similarities between wolf and coyote biology, behavior, social structure, historical and current ranges, and ecosystem roles. How do our domesticated dogs compare and contrast to these wild canids? The program focuses on resources that facilitate peaceful coexistence. Wolf Haven International, a nonprofit sanctuary for captive-born wolves, www.wolfhaven.org, is located in the small farming community of Tenino, WA (about 1.5 hours south of Seattle). $6 per participant (free for members). Pre-registration is required HERE.

Invasive Non-Native Plants to Avoid Planting in Your Yard

by Hilary Mills, ENC Lead Naturalist/Horticulture Manager It’s California Invasive Species Action Week! Here are some species to avoid when you’re considering a new plant for your yard: Brazilian pepper, Schinus terebinthifolius & Peruvian pepper, Schinus molle Brazilian pepper tree is slightly more invasive than Peruvian pepper, but it is not a good idea to plant either one. Seeds readily germinate and grow to create dense stands that shade out other vegetation within a few years of introduction, especially in riparian habitats. Seeds are spread by birds, coyotes, and other wild animals.   English Ivy and Algerian Ivy, Hedera helix or Hedera caneriensis These ivy species spread vigorously both as a vine and groundcover, choking out trees and completely covering understory vegetation. It can also harbor…

Farewell Aaysia!

Spring Semester is finally coming to an end and with less than two week till graduation I am sad to be ending my internship here at the Environmental Nature Center. Interning here has been nothing but an incredible learning experience and I am thankful for every day I got to spend here. Someone once said, “Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can – there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.” As I end my internship here at ENC I can honestly say that I am truly grateful I learned so much during the few months I’ve been here. I’ve learned the importance of organization, communication, and deadlines. Working with Lori Whalen was also a great…

Little Naturalists at the ENC!

The warmth of the sun shining on your skin, the dazzlingly bright orange glow of poppies in bloom, and the air tasting sweeter than usual. All in favor of spring say “Aye!” Its officially spring and the Environmental Nature Center couldn’t be more excited. The ENC has fun and exciting events in store for all our little naturalist friends and their guardians. Spring is the season for rebirth, renewal, and regrowth and the ENC is thrilled to host our Little Naturalist events: “Little Naturalists: Desert Adventure!” on April 12 at 9:30 and “Little Naturalists: Spectacular Spring!” on April 20 at 9:30. Little Naturalist programs are outdoor experiential education classes designed for 3 – 5 year olds and their adult guardians.  Activities are designed to encourage…

Children’s Drought Art will raise awareness

California officials have opened the spill gates at Folsom Lake, located in Northern California and let precious water spill into the American River as a precaution against–flooding! A series of El Niño-influenced storms in the month of March have made a significant dent on California’s severe drought. But don’t get too overly excited about watering your lawns on a daily basis just yet. State officials say it is still far too early to declare the drought over, especially given that the rains seem to have focused on Northern California, while Southern California has seen comparatively little rain. Although the state’s reservoir and snowpack levels are on the rise, both key sources of water for the state, officials still urge the public to continue being drought-conscious…

A Superior Senior Project

A foreign exchange student from the Netherlands recently completed her Senior Project at the Environmental Nature Center where she shadowed our Naturalists as they taught environmental education programs. At the completion of her project, she interviewed our Education and Community Relations Director, Lori Whalen. The student asked Whalen a plethora of questions regarding the ENC and its effectiveness in promoting nature and sustainable living in Orange County. “The Environmental Nature Center’s hands-on education programs serve over 21,000 Southern California students annually, inspiring all generations to protect the natural world “, says Whalen. “We are our community’s foremost authority on ecological responsibility, sustainable practices and environmental education.” The foundation of the student’s senior project is to discover ways in which major California cities can reduce its…

What do Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have in common?

What do successful tech engineers like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have in common? You might think they are incredibly smart, innovative, creative or even filthy rich, but you might be forgetting one key characteristic. They are all MEN! The STEM fields—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—have always had a woman problem. Men tend to dominate the tech industry and for women, the numbers aren’t getting any better. Startling statistics from the Girl Scout Research Institute reveals that more than half (57%) of all young girls say that girls don’t typically consider a career in STEM. With such grim numbers on the horizon, Girls Inc. of Orange County is partnering up with the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach on February 19 to try…

The ENC has you covered this Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! Are you scurrying around, surfing the web endlessly, trying to find that perfect gift for your significant other? Take a deep breath and try to relax because the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach has you covered. There is a Native Plant Sale taking place on Saturday, February 13, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A native plant can be a great way to spice things up this year, instead of buying the usual bouquet of roses, that sadly decompose in less than a week. And every time he/she looks at the vibrant plant, it’ll remind them of you! “Roses will be dead in a week,” says Hilary, who is in managing the Native Plant Sale. “Why not…

Prepare for President’s Week Nature Camp!

Do you remember a time not too long ago, when children enjoyed playing outdoors, getting dirty, and breathing fresh air as they created imaginary worlds in their young, creative minds? It was a time when children spent countless hours exploring, playing, and living in nature. A time when children ran around backyards, parks, and school playgrounds, harnessing their imagination by creating immense, creative worlds that rival those seen in movies. It was a time when children appreciated nature and all the benefits that come from it. Unfortunately, with the rapid advancement of technology, childhood has veered away from nature, and the outdoors has been replaced with four walls and a screen. With technology literally at their fingertips, children are no longer experiencing the benefits of…

The ENC Excellent Educator Series Returns!

The ENC Excellent Educator series brings all kinds of educators together for fun afternoons of learning exciting hands-on ways to teach children about science and nature. Everyone is invited! Classroom teachers, outdoor educators, scout leaders and parents – anyone who wants to be a better educator. On Wednesday, January 27, ENC Facility Manager Sarah Fitzgerald will share some of her favorite activities during “Lets Talk Toddlers“. We’ll do some art, and learn easy and fun games for 3-5 year olds where toddlers can participate without much help.   We will talk about reading in nature and animal handling for toddlers – all the ingredients (and why they work) for toddler/parent participation classes. Sarah will tell us how to make our activities as hands-on as possible, how to give…

Living with Coyotes

Coyotes are unique animals that have adapted to living among humans quite successfully, unlike most wildlife. Skie Bender of Wolf Haven International will present a family friendly educational program about coyote behavior and biology. During this program she will explain the amazing roles coyotes play in ecosystems, as well as how we can help protect our pets. Learn how humans can coexist with these brilliant creatures and how these predators share complex and important social behaviors and an adaptive lifestyle with humans. “Coyotes get a bad rap, but they are an important part of the food web,” said ENC Education Director Lori Whalen. “By taking the correct precautions, humans can live alongside these resourceful creatures, and benefit from their presence as well!” The program will also discuss and explain…

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