Mather Field is home to a large variety of vernal pool and prairie plants. At the peak of the spring flowering phase the fields are carpeted with colorful wild flowers, most of which grow only in California vernal pools.
Think back and reflect on hiking your favorite nature trail. Do you remember what you brought with you? Perhaps you packed a lunch, a pair of binoculars or a camera. You may have been wearing a sun hat or a compass around your neck. Your friends or family may have been strolling the beaten path at your side. Do you remember what you saw?
It occurred to me, as I hiked around the vernal pools with fifth grade students Caroline and Lucca, that I am a better Splash guide than interviewer. So many beautiful things caught my attention that I spent much of the time pointing out the flowers, the vole runs, and the bird songs and not asking them questions! My only redemption is that frequently, “Wow!” was a common response and they seemed totally engaged in their Splash adventure.
Adrena the Solitary Bee awoke one fine spring morning with a feeling of purpose. This was a new feeling she had never felt before. She had been lying dormant in her wax coated chamber underground since late last spring. She had distant memories of the time she had spent underground developing. She remembered the taste of pollen and nectar and recalled memories of tunnels. In the distance a faint voice interrupted her train of thought.
Did you know our very own Central Valley is home to one of nature’s brightest, rarest treasures? There is a magical flood-and-drought cycle that harbors strong, highly-adapted organisms right in our backyard! Come visit the vernal pools of Mather Field and experience the magic for yourself.
If you are familiar with the Sacramento region you may have heard of Rancho Seco Park, located 25 miles southeast of Sacramento. If you don’t know it by the name then you might remember it as the place that reminds you of the Simpson’s hometown, with the towering nuclear silos being the most prominent feature in the grassy landscape.
It all started a couple of weeks ago on an otherwise typical Splash field trip. If I recall, the Splash Guides were leading a wonderful class of fourth-grade nature detectives through the vernal pool grasslands.
It was a warm morning in late June when I got a call at the Splash Center from the Mather grounds crew —“There’s a snake stuck in a net” That sounded interesting —“What kind of net?” I asked. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen anything like it, can you come?” they responded.
So I grabbed our trusty accountant, Sara, who is always up for an adventure, and a pair of scissors. In my mind, I’m thinking-snip, snip, he goes his way and I go mine.
Greg went to college at Duke University where he got a B.S. degree in Biology. He earned his M.S. in Marine Sciences from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. After college Greg built a career as a biologist, working for over 22 years as a research scientist and field biologist in marine, lake, forest, and stream ecosystems.
Never underestimate the power of conversation. Almost everything we can do to improve our situation begins with a conversation. It is the most elegant and effective tool we have to make change and build community: sharing what is important to us through conversation with another person.
These projects, completed by children and adults working together, demonstrate what can be done by people who care. Many classes, groups, and individuals have been working to educate others and encourage protection of water and habitat in Sacramento County.
Carol W. Witham is a recognized expert in vernal pools. She is self-educated in botany and vernal pool ecology. Her personal studies began with a general curiosity about the plants found in vernal pools. Eventually, through reading, exploring, and working with other experts, she learned a little about nearly every field of study related to vernal pools.
Catch a glimpse of UC Merced’s incredible vernal pool grassland preserve in this short video entitled “Impact.” Learn about Merced’s plan to protect its vernal pools under the UC Natural Reserve System, giving students across the globe a chance to explore these unique living laboratories.