Millions of years of geology and evolution have created the
spectacular vernal pools at Sacramento County’s Mather Field.
These are exceptional examples of a rare wetland ecosystem that
is unique to California. Visitors can experience this piece of
California’s natural history, just 30 minutes from downtown
What is a Vernal Pool?
A vernal pool is a temporary wetland that fills with water during
the rainy season and dries down in the spring. It remains dry for
six to eight months awaiting the next winter rains. The plants
and animals that are adapted to survive these annual extremes of
flood and drought create a changing mosaic of life throughout the
three phases of a vernal pool: wet, flowering and dry.
Through Nature in the Neighborhood and the Splash Youth Corps
children and their parents get to meet scientists who live and
work in our region as they share what they know and love about
exploring life outdoors. These experiences at Splash can open
eyes, warm hearts and expand minds to possibilities for their
Many professional scientists in our region work with nature as
their job. They make a living practicing science. However,
thousands more lay scientists practice scientific investigation
as a pastime and study nature for fun. In fact, many lay
scientists become experts in their field of interest because they
love nature and they love learning about it.
For lifelong learners, there is always more to explore and
investigate in nature. Many professional and lay scientists spend
time sharing their knowledge with young people, hoping that
nature exploration will give them the joy that they experience.
Most believe that every generation inherits the work (and the
fun) of preserving wildlife from the previous generation, and is
responsible for passing it on to the next one.
Here are some examples of the fields of study that professional
and lay scientists pursue…
The Splash Education Center is home to a collection of live
animals that are found in the vernal pool grassland or other
local habitats. These animals live in a room in the Splash Center
that we call “Critterville.”
Sacramento Splash never takes healthy animals out of the
wild. We only keep critters that would be unable to survive
on their own, either because they were injured or because they
were captive prior to coming to Splash. Check out the links below
to read about the amazing animals that call Critterville home.
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