Earthroots Field School https://earthrootsfieldschool.org Deepening our Connections with Nature Thu, 19 Mar 2020 23:02:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Spring Activities in Nature https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2020/03/16/spring-activities-in-nature/9175/ https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2020/03/16/spring-activities-in-nature/9175/#respond Mon, 16 Mar 2020 23:14:21 +0000 https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/?p=9175 Spring is a magical time, as a mom and teacher I really look forward to all of the hands-on learning we get to do in the spring. One of my favorites is growing our own spring grass baskets to be used as a centerpiece in our home or for Spring/Easter Baskets. We also make lots of self-care items from the garden in Spring: lip balm, bug repellent, herb salts, sunscreen, and much more. Spring is a time of renewal and self-care which for me happens mostly in the garden.

Making Spring grass baskets are easy and saves us from purchasing plastic grass for basket decor and can add a bit of natural green to your home any time of year. Growing lush green grass indoors or on your patio is easier than you think. Use a basket of grass as a trendy centerpiece on your table or replace plastic Easter basket grass with a natural and environmentally friendly alternative. Grass varieties that sprout and grow quickly, including ryegrass and wheatgrass, ensure your basket is ready for display in as little as three weeks. The grass survives for up to three months if kept watered and provided with sunlight.  

When planning to make your basket, pick a manageable size basket. Dirt, seeds, and water can get heavy fast, so make sure the size of the basket you pick will not be too heavy. I use wheatgrass, these seeds can be purchased at most health food stores or online. It takes 3 weeks for your grass to sprout so think about when you want to have it out as a centerpiece. Make sure to look at the calendar and plan to plant 4 weeks from the date you want to display. A good tip is to make sure you use a basket you are not willing to get dirty or wet. Pick a basket that you can use for this project year after year.

Directions for making a DIY natural Spring Basket:

  • Purchase seeds, wheatgrass prefered
  • Soak seeds the night before making the basket
  • Line the basket with a plastic bag (reused grocery bag is best!) or foil
  • Add moist garden soil to basket
  • Cover the top of the soil with wet wheatgrass seeds
  • Cover the wet seeds with a light dusting of soil.
  • Lightly water seeds. For best results, use a spray bottle to keep seeds moist daily.
  • Place basket in a sunny location in your house or patio. If your grass grows quickly you can trim to the desired height with shears. 

Another great activity this time of year is going on a nest hunt. Many birds and animals have made nests to have their offspring. Take time to go on a slow walk through your neighborhood looking for nests or burrows. If you walk under a tree and see a lot of bird droppings that is a clue you may have a nest above you. At my home, we love to find nests, name our bird residents and keep tabs on how many clutches they have. We currently have four hummingbird nests, one phoebe, as well as crows, woodpecker, hawk, and owls living in our yard. Our hummingbirds have an average of three clutches and our phoebes have two. Birds are fascinating and master builders. Try gathering materials with your kids and making a tiny birds nest. It is quite a challenge.

I hope spring brings you a fresh take on life and fun adventures for you and your family. Remember…never underestimate the healing power of a quiet moment in the garden, especially in the spring.

Blog Post was written by Kathleen Cobb

Please comment below with your spring activities. You can also send pictures of your spring baskets or birds nest to chrisha@earthrootsfieldschool.org to be featured on social media!

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COVID-19 Statement from Earthroots https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2020/03/16/covid-19-statement-from-earthroots/9161/ Mon, 16 Mar 2020 20:43:59 +0000 https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/?p=9161 Dear Earthroots Community,

In light of the recent events surrounding the COVID-19 virus, our organization has decided to implement precautionary measures to help keep our community healthy and safe. Effective immediately, all current classes, events, and gatherings will be postponed or canceled. All weekly classes have been canceled until the week of April 13, at which time we will re-evaluate this situation. The 2nd annual An Evening Under The Oaks benefit dinner will be postponed until late fall. Events at Big Oak Canyon, including Naturalist Walks, Full Moon Campouts, and Volunteer Days will not be held at this time. We are developing online opportunities, stay tuned!

Earthroots is a small non-profit organization and canceling programs will have a significant financial impact on us. If you’re able to support us during this difficult time, please consider donating

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Nature and sunlight are good for us! Please do your best to continue to get outside, take a hike, walk on the beach, bird watch, meditate, and enjoy your time together as a family. Community is so important, now more than ever. Please reach out to and support those around you who may be struggling the most at this time. We also encourage you to take time to notice what gifts are awakening within you and your family during this time of slowing down, reprioritizing and rethinking how we show up in this world. We were made for these times. Free your creativity, take time to garden, learn new wild edibles, notice the weather and connect with your family in new ways.

We are here for you and your family not only as nature mentors but also as your friends. We look forward to getting through this and one day continuing with our classes and events again. Until then, let’s work together to keep our Earthroots community feeling strong and cared for. 

Be well,
The Earthroots Staff 

Are you looking for nature-themed activities and resources for your child? Check out the Earthroots Activities and Resources page. We hope that you can incorporate these tools into your child’s learning. Activities include nature-themed coloring sheets, blog posts with DIY projects, and wildlife videos to watch and share. 

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Shane’s Corner – Winter Sprouts https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2020/02/24/shanes-corner-winter-sprouts/8559/ https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2020/02/24/shanes-corner-winter-sprouts/8559/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2020 22:37:13 +0000 https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/?p=8559 Shane Brown is a lifelong naturalist and the caretaker at Big Oak Canyon, Earthroots 39-acre property in Silverado, California. This blog is a highlight reel of his experiences at Big Oak Canyon.

Join Shane for a 2-hour casual wander observing the flora and fauna of Big Oak Canyon on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.
*See schedule for dates and times
Second Tuesdays – Plant Walk
Fourth Tuesdays – Birds, Animal tracks and sign

January at Big Oak Canyon was a dry and windy month, but full of discoveries and learning! Little sprouts continued to grow, elderberry leaves started to pop out of bare stems, the winter birds flitted around in flocks, the creek ran clear and cold, and mushrooms and flowers sprang forth. Two campouts filled the canyon with laughter and learning.

Big Oak Canyon Highlights

Honey mushroom (Armillaria mellea), a large, edible type of mushroom, grows in a big clump out of an oak stump.
Mountain lion tracks at the creek, likely those of the infamous Limpy the Lion who has been spotted many times by people in Silverado Canyon this month.
California gooseberry (Ribes californicum) is an early-blooming shrub out here.
Mariposa lily sprouts from seeds I planted in December!
A fun drawing session on the chalkboard during the Spanish immersion class campout.
A peaceful picnic at the upper meadow during Forest Kindergarten.
Mixing cob at Forest Kindergarten.
The Pathways to Connection campout was so fun and connective that no one wanted to leave! Here, Jon Young leads a morning session for the adults while the kids are off having an adventure. We are on the journey of learning again how not to fear each other, how to listen and feel our connectivity and electricity, and how to build a culture where our stories are caught, lifted up and woven together with the stories of each other and the land. Thank you, Jon – we look forward to the larger version of this culture repair work, the Art of Mentoring at Big Oak Canyon, in May 2021!

Projects and Discoveries

New garden beds built just above the kitchen.
We worked on putting some palm fronds as roofing for the kiosk on a volunteer day.
A little field trip I took to help build a living willow dome with the kids at Maple Village Waldorf School in Long Beach, using arroyo willow from Silverado Creek and black willow from Long Beach Office of Sustainability.

Trivia Questions

Answers for last month:

What kind of organism is this orange stuff? Slime mold

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Who walked along the pipe? Gray Fox

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Who made the tracks here? Bobcat. This is their typical scent-marking scrape.

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This Month’s Questions:

This is a beehive in a fallen hollow log, discovered by the forest kindergarten class. What is in the yellow cells on the far right, and in the capped-off cells above them?

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What is the name of this lovely, tender, native salad plant?

What plant has a natural rooting hormone that you can use to help cuttings of other plants take root?

What is usually the first migratory bird to come back to Orange County that signifies the coming of spring?

Comment below with your answers!

Blog post was written by Shane Brown.
Shane is the caretaker of Earthroots’ Big Oak Canyon property. He also teaches the Spanish Immersion in Nature and Ancestral Arts programs. He occasionally helps with other Earthroots classes and leads volunteer days at Big Oak Canyon.

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Winter Renewal https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2020/02/05/winter-renewal/7996/ Thu, 06 Feb 2020 00:45:19 +0000 https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/?p=7996 As the hustle and bustle from the holidays settle down, I like to observe the beautiful winter colors of January. This is my favorite time to get out into the natural jewels of Orange County. It’s not too hot and if I’m lucky, I can pull out and actually wear, some of my sweaters. 

Whether in a forest, meadow, canyon or at the ocean, I love the way the landscape looks at this time of year.

Most people visit the ocean in warmer seasons, but at Capistrano Beach, I love the way the wind blows and the wintery water is pushed into millions of mini, wavy, shimmery peaks. 

The sun too is spectacular, now that it is muted. Its golden rays illuminate the sycamores of Caspers Wilderness Park.

How it filters down onto the ground at Big Oak Canyon or backlights the stormy gray and orange clouds of Doheny Harbor.

I encourage everyone to get out and look through winter’s eyes at our hidden treasures in Orange County.

Blog Written by

Raz Allen

Raz is the assistant instructor for Homeschool Field Class and Eco-Literacy. Falling in Love with Earthroots when her then 8 year old joined a wilderness survival class, she has been involved with Earthroots ever since. Starting first as a class participant, to volunteer and now as a staff member. She is truly excited to share this great connection with nature and the traditions of the local Native peoples that were the first stewards and wisdom of Orange County.

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Shane’s Corner – Gifts of the Land https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2020/01/14/shanes-corner-december-2019/7726/ https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2020/01/14/shanes-corner-december-2019/7726/#respond Wed, 15 Jan 2020 00:10:22 +0000 https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/?p=7726 Shane Brown is a lifelong naturalist and the caretaker at Big Oak Canyon, Earthroots 39-acre property in Silverado, California. This blog is a highlight reel of his experiences at Big Oak Canyon.

Join Shane for a 2-hour casual wander observing the flora and fauna of Big Oak Canyon on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.
*See schedule for dates and times
Second Tuesdays – Plant Walk
Fourth Tuesdays – Birds, Animal tracks and sign

A lot happened at Big Oak in December! We got a lot of rain and a lot of work done this month in preparation for the rest of winter and beyond. Winter brings cold and rain, but it’s a great time to get out on the land to see the water flow and the plants come to life! We are so grateful for the gifts of the land!

Big Oak Canyon Highlights

A Journey School class is the first to use the Story Bench during a botany field trip.
Calling for donations for the compost! Composting is a great way to cycle nutrients and create richness out of things often referred to as waste. If you don’t have compost at your home, we can take your kitchen scraps (including citrus, meat, bones, shells, everything), leaf piles, animal manure, and anything else decomposable.
A new bench invites passers-by on the Creek Trail.
Jepsonia is the first native wildflower to spring up after the arrival of the rainy season.
Italian thistle sprouts make a delicious salad. Pick ‘em before they get spikey!
Native plant restoration at Big Oak! Here, I’m planting wild rye, a native perennial grass. I also sowed lots of seeds of mariposa lily and blue dicks, which are both beautiful wildflowers with edible starchy corms.

Projects and Discoveries

A little kiosk goes up at the crossroads at Big Oak, soon to have a roof, signage, and a place to write notes.
New parking lot lines painted with lime (calcium hydroxide). Most spaces are compact. Remember to park rear first for a quick getaway!
Spanish Immersion In Nature students learned how to make tortillas from the corn grown at Big Oak!
Volunteers working on digging a water catchment basin to slow and sink the rainwater coming off the road. We later planted native plants here.

Trivia Questions

Answers for last month:

What are the two species of oak found at Big Oak Canyon? Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) and scrub oak (Quercus berberidifolia)

What is the plant at Big Oak that has bright red berries at this time of year, looks like holly, and has leaves that can be boiled into a tea that tastes like cherries? Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia)

What kind of small, slow-moving animal at Big Oak emerges from the ground when the rain begins in fall or winter? California newt

Where is the easiest place to store rainwater, and how do you do it? In the ground! Slow it, spread it, sink it!

This Month’s Questions:

What kind of organism is this orange stuff?

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Who walked along the pipe?

C:\Users\Admin\Pictures\2019-12\IMG_2786.JPG

Who made the tracks here?

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Blog post was written by Shane Brown.
Shane is the caretaker of Earthroots’ Big Oak Canyon property. He also teaches the Spanish Immersion in Nature and Ancestral Arts programs. He occasionally helps with other Earthroots classes and leads volunteer days at Big Oak Canyon.

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Shane’s Corner – Sharp Shift from Summer to Winter https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2019/12/10/shanes-corner-november-2019/6371/ https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2019/12/10/shanes-corner-november-2019/6371/#respond Tue, 10 Dec 2019 18:27:45 +0000 https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/?p=6371 Shane Brown is a lifelong naturalist and the caretaker at Big Oak Canyon, Earthroots 39-acre property in Silverado, California. This blog is a highlight reel of his experiences at Big Oak Canyon.

Join Shane for a 2-hour casual wander observing the flora and fauna of Big Oak Canyon on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.
*See schedule for dates and times
Second Tuesdays of the month will be focused on plants, and fourth Tuesdays will be focused on birds and animal tracks and sign.

November brought a sharp shift from summer to winter, as the weather changed from dry Santa Ana winds to the first soaking rains that brought the first sprouts, and a ton of snow in the mountains higher up!

Big Oak Canyon Highlights

This picture tells the story of November. The wild oats were dry and golden from the dry summer, then came the Santa Ana Winds that knocked them over, then the rains which left droplets along the stem. Soon the rains of winter will turn them gray and bring up the new sprouts.
The acorns are on, and ready for harvest!
These miniature persimmons have been a treat for students at Big Oak!
We had a couple of workdays on our cob bench and are close to completion! Made of all-natural materials, it has cob (mud and straw) covered by lime plaster. Designs in this Story Bench include a sun, niches for hidden treasures, a mountain lion, bird, mountains, and oak trees.
Participants layer lime plaster on cob bench.
Lime plaster drying on the cob bench.

Projects and Discoveries

The old septic system at Big Oak had a lot of mysteries to uncover! Here, we’re repairing a broken section of the pipes, and soon we will be installing a real bathroom that connects to it! Donate to help finish this project so we can upgrade to a nice bathroom!
I had the amazing opportunity to spend two weeks at doing the Permaculture Design Course at Quail Springs, which is about 2 hours inland from Santa Barbara. I learned so much about designing efficient and holistic systems of human settlement that help repair the Earth by harmonizing with natural patterns! Here’s a view of “downtown” Quail Springs.
Even the goat pens at Quail Springs were beautifully made and blend in with the hillside.

Trivia Questions

Answers for last month:

What do tarantula hawk wasps eat?
The larvae eat tarantulas, but the adults can be seen feeding on flowers.

Why can fossils of sea creatures be found so far inland in the mountains?
The ocean used to extend much farther over the land, and Big Oak was underwater!

What color dye can you get from walnut husks?
It can be made various shades from light to very dark brown

What is a building material that is fire-proof, natural, insulative, sturdy, cheap, and can be shaped into any form imaginable?
Cob!

This Month’s Questions:

What are the two species of oak found at Big Oak Canyon?

What is the plant at Big Oak that has bright red berries at this time of year, looks like holly, and has leaves that can be boiled into a tea that tastes like cherries?

What kind of small, slow-moving animal at Big Oak emerges from the ground when the rain begins in fall or winter?

Where is the easiest place to store rain water, and how do you do it?

Blog post was written by Shane Brown.
Shane is the caretaker of Earthroots’ Big Oak Canyon property. He also teaches the Spanish Immersion in Nature and Ancestral Arts programs. He occasionally helps with other Earthroots classes and leads volunteer days at Big Oak Canyon.

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Survival Skills: Food https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2019/11/14/survival-skills-training/5446/ Fri, 15 Nov 2019 01:46:53 +0000 https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/?p=5446 It was the fourth day of my survival skills training & we were on the topic of food. Lessons ranged from trapping & skinning animals to leaching and cooking acorns. Our instructor, Tom Brown Jr., described how the notches on the traps had to be cut at precise angles, exact dimensions and of certain materials. His strict adherence to each skill was based on experience, having lived many seasons of his life depending on that which he found in and created from the woods. This knowledge has influenced people around the world through his books, trainings and special missions. Tom Brown Jr. knows his stuff. He told stories of training navy seals, assisting police in finding lost children in the wilderness, and finding a diabetic lost wandering in the desert. Every story was better than the last. I was on the edge of my seat taking rigorous notes.

Grinding and leaching acorns.

But his gentle side came out as well. There were two times during that week, where this strong man welled up with tears describing moments that touched him deeply.  One was when he recounted a time that he found a child who had been lost, the other was sharing when he received a letter from a college student who said that Tom had saved her life. I’ll summarize the way he described the letter from that student here.

In the letter, the student shared how she had attended this same course that I was taking many years ago. And on the “food day”, she commented to the class that she didn’t eat meat and wanted to skip out on the lecture about skinning animals and preparing their meat for food. He gave her permission to leave if she wanted to, but included “this could save your life one day”, and so she stayed. He went over how to skin a squirrel, how to separate the meat from the intestines, which parts are edible and various ways to prepare it for food.

In her letter, she explained to Tom about a research  trip to Alaska in a remote area where they had to be flown in on small planes. The research trip was for her and another student in her program. They had flown in all their research equipment, food, camping gear and computers. They stayed out for 2 weeks, and when they were finished with their work, the plane came to pick them up. Once loaded, the plant was too heavy to return with all of the gear and passengers. So, she opted to stay behind for a few hours until the second plane could come out and pick her up. During that window of time, a storm blew in and she was hunkered down until it passed, knowing the plane could not fly in those conditions. The day turned into night, and the storm continued. So she fixed dinner and got some sleep.

Tom recounted the letter and continued… The storm pressed on. Another day, another night, and her food supply was running low. She rationed what she had, but finally it ran out. She was camping in a blizzard, in the middle of nowhere, without knowing long it would last for. She was hungry and scared. Then, there was movement under her tent, a mouse had found it’s way burrowing up through the ground beneath her. She never thought that she would ever kill an animal, but she was desperate and with one motion hit the movement beneath her tent with her shoe. She ate the mouse, and it sustained her until the storm cleared and she was picked up. Just like Tom promised in the lecture years prior, knowing how to process an animal saved her life. Tom’s tears were connecting with that moment, knowing how we all struggle to do the right thing, and be the right person. But at the end of the day, we are all just trying to survive.

I share this story with you today because animal processing is not a commonly discussed topic, yet one that is interwoven to human life throughout our ancestral lineages. I welcome you to read more on Shane’s upcoming class Using the Whole Animal, and perhaps add a new survival skill to your life.

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Shane’s Corner- Short Days, Long Nights https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2019/11/03/shanes-corner-october-2019/5081/ https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2019/11/03/shanes-corner-october-2019/5081/#respond Mon, 04 Nov 2019 05:22:28 +0000 https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/?p=5081 Shane Brown is a lifelong naturalist and the caretaker at Big Oak Canyon, Earthroots 39-acre property in Silverado, California. This blog is a highlight reel of his experiences at Big Oak Canyon.

Big Oak Canyon Highlights

Here’s a peek at what some of the animals and plants at Big Oak Canyon are up to this fall.

October was marked by several days of dry, gusty Santa Ana winds, big swings in temperature, and the return of the wintering birds, like hermit thrushes, kinglets, and juncos! Days are getting short, nights are getting chilly, the land is parched, and the leaves are falling off the elm trees. Forest kindergarten sang rain songs for the rain to arrive soon!


Spanish Immersion class got to harvest potatoes and black walnuts, and plant cempasuchil in celebration of Dia de los Muertos.
(Photo by Karina Ducoulombier)
Some marine fossils dug up while excavating pipes
A honeybee visits sagebrush flowers
A tarantula hawk wasp visits English ivy flowers

Projects and Discoveries:

Little helpers clear the road after big winds knocked down tree limbs

Trivia Questions:

Last Month’s Trivia:
Why did the scorpion cross the road?
Because a road was built across where it lives

What medicine was first derived from willow bark?
acetylsalicylic acid (aka aspirin)

What do the roots of alder trees do for the soil?
They are nitrogen fixers, meaning the excrete nitrogen compounds into the soil.

What is the name of the insect commonly found eating the insides of acorns? The acorn weevil is the most common insect found eating acorns, and their larvae are called grubs.

This Month’s Trivia:
What do tarantula hawk wasps eat?

Why can fossils of sea creatures be found so far inland in the mountains?

What color dye can you get from walnut husks?

What is one building material that is fire-proof, natural, insulative, sturdy, cheap, and can be shaped into any form imaginable? 

Blog post written by Shane Brown.
Shane is the caretaker of Earthroots’ Big Oak Canyon property. He also teaches the Spanish Immersion in Nature and Ancestral Arts programs. He occasionally helps with other Earthroots classes and leads volunteer days at Big Oak Canyon.


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Instructor Highlight – Kat Cobb https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2019/10/11/instructor-highlight-kat-cobb/4528/ Fri, 11 Oct 2019 20:43:12 +0000 http://earthrootsfieldschool.org/?p=4528 Meet Mrs. Kat, Earthroots’ new Program Director, Homeschool Field Class lead instructor, and Eco-Literacy instructor at the Journey School.

Mrs. Kat finds joy being a mentor to children, young adults, and other teachers in nature-connection, farm to table cooking, horticulture, confidence and safety in nature, and environmental science.

The last 5 years of teaching with Earthroots and the Journey School as the Earthroots’ eco-literacy teacher has been such a gift and fueled Mrs. Kat to learn. She has taken multiple 8 Shields trainings and received a permaculture design certificate to deepen her knowledge and ability to care for the Earth.

Thank you for all that you do at Earthroots, Mrs. Kat!

Interview with Mrs. Kat:

What is your role at Earthroots (classes taught, other responsibilities)?

I am fortunate enough to teach the Homeschool Field Class as lead instructor. Our students range in age 6-14 the past years and my class this year will be 7-14. The class runs for 32 weeks of the school year, broken up to 2 semesters. 

Happily, I also teach Earthroots Eco-Literacy curriculum at the Journey School 2 days a week throughout the school year grades K-5. 

My newest role at Earthroots is Program Director. I mentor adults that come to our program to learn how to be nature-connection teachers. Working with them is a highlight for me. Knowing that I can inspire children in nature is wonderful, but helping other people become nature-connection teachers makes me feel like this work is being spread like wildfire to many more kids that I can’t get to. Nature-connection is making our world and children’s lives better, richer, and with a deeper understanding of what is of value and why we should protect it. Life, water, air, and food all need to be clean so that all of the world’s creatures can thrive. Earthroots has a rich pool of teachers each with amazing gifts to share with our students. Seeing their ideas take shape and influence students of all ages to have a deep understanding of the natural world in English and Spanish, in all ecosystems, is truly awe-inspiring. My love of Earthroots and what we bring to our local communities is endless.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to support our teachers and programs and in turn, all of our students in learning, growing and passing on these ideals that we as an Earthroots community hold dear. 

What is your favorite memory from working at Earthroots?

I have many! This school year learning what my students know about water, watersheds, the ocean and how these bodies of water hold us, was fascinating. Being able to share what I know with them in the garden was extra special. The students not only ate salad they grew, but they also made tomato sauce, herb salt, self-care items including a hand-sewn Mother’s Day sachet filled with the herbs they grew, and more. 

HIking with Homeschool Field Class

Do you have something to share about yourself that would surprise us?

A few years back, I ice climbed Mt. Whitney; it was a free climb (no ropes). One of my most epic adventures ever! That same year I finished the entire John Muir Trail and hope to hike it again in sections with my daughter Hailey. I am also a moderator for the Mt. Whitney Facebook Page and have guided people up and down the tallest mountain in the lower 48 several times.  I have summited the majority of peaks in California many times including Mt. Whitney in every season in day trips and overnight. 

Do you have a mentor/role model that inspires you?  

I have been fortunate to have many mentors over time. I even feel like children are unknowing mentors. They have so much to teach us and remind us of things we once learned and have forgotten. The older I get the more I realize I have to learn. Slowing down and being receptive to it is one of my daily goals.

Why do you enjoy working at Earthroots?

My career for over a decade was as a chef, so for years, I was happily feeding people. Afterward, I became a mother and that was my job full time. As a mother, I noticed a void of learning about nature that I felt was up to me and my husband to fill. Noticing other parents not feeling confident in nature and their kids missing this key component in their lives caused a seismic shift in my career goals. I decided to leave the chef profession and started volunteering as a nature-connection science educator. 

When my kids got older, they did not need me at home full time anymore. I decided with advice from friends and my hubby that I should apply for a job teaching kids outside. I reached out to Jodi (Earthroots Executive Director) and lucky for me, I have been an Earthroots Instructor ever since.

Mrs. Kat backpacking

What are your favorite things to do in nature and what location? 

Backpacking and hiking are all equal loves of my life. I love to be in unedited nature as much as possible. I get a little wacky if I don’t disconnect often. Now that my children are in high school and soon college, it is so cool that they join me in the backcountry on longer hikes and overnight trips. The Sierras hold a special place in my heart!

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Shane’s Corner – Chilly Nights and the Smell of Rain https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2019/10/01/shanes-corner-september-2019/4252/ https://earthrootsfieldschool.org/2019/10/01/shanes-corner-september-2019/4252/#respond Tue, 01 Oct 2019 14:36:28 +0000 http://earthrootsfieldschool.org/?p=4252 Shane Brown is a lifelong naturalist and the caretaker at Big Oak Canyon, Earthroots 39-acre property in Silverado, California. This blog is a highlight reel of his experiences at Big Oak Canyon.

Join Shane for a 2-hour casual wander observing the flora and fauna of Big Oak Canyon on second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.
*See schedule for dates and times
Second Tuesdays of the month will be focused on plants, and fourth Tuesdays will be focused on birds and animal tracks and sign.

Here at Big Oak Canyon, the month of September has meant the return of chilly nights, the sound of acorns dropping and woodpeckers and jays squawking, the sweet and tantalizing aroma of brickelbush wafting down the canyon at night, the tiptoeing around the hundreds of metamorphosed little frogs, and even the smell of a light rain moistening the earth! Here are some of the highlights from the month.

Big Oak Canyon Highlights

In a matter of days, thousands of caterpillars came and turned the leaves to skeletons on many of the alder trees!
A scorpion was crossing the road…
Brickelbush opens its flowers and sends the sweet aroma down the canyon at night.
Tiny chorus frogs are all over the rocks at the creek!
Honey bees are very busy in the elm trees!
California fuchsia shines bright and glistens in the light rain.
A praying mantis sheds his old skin.

Projects and Discoveries

BSA Troop 850 works on a footbridge by the storage shed for an Eagle Scout project.
Almost done with an acorn granary, woven with willow and other plants from the canyon! This project was inspired by the Ipai-style acorn storage basket in the book Survival Skills of Native California, and will hopefully be in use later this fall.
A bobcat strolls by the kitchen, interested in what I’m cooking.

Trivia Questions

Answers for last month:
What skulls were pictured last month? Striped skunk

What two basic categories of things are needed to build a compost pile? Greens (wet and nitrogen-rich) and browns (dry and carbon-rich)

How does a robber fly digest its prey? They inject their prey with a digestive chemical, then suck out their insides.

What animal species was extirpated from Orange County 111 years ago? Grizzly bear

What does tannic acid, used for tanning animal skins, come from? From many kinds of tree bark and oak galls

This Month’s Questions:

Why did the scorpion cross the road?

What medicine was first derived from willow bark?

What do the roots of alder trees do for the soil?

What is the name of the insect that is commonly found eating the insides of acorns?

Blog post was written by Shane Brown.
Shane is the caretaker of Earthroots’ Big Oak Canyon property. He also teaches the Spanish Immersion in Nature and Ancestral Arts programs. He occasionally helps with other Earthroots classes and leads volunteer days at Big Oak Canyon.

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