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Getting Ready for Walks in the Wet Phase!

Update from the Mather Field Vernal Pools 

The Mather Field vernal pools are coming to life, slowly but surely! In the last couple weeks, the water table has begun to show in deeper vernal pools and swales. Splashers have been scouting the field and have already made some exciting discoveries. A few flatworms have been spotted trailing across the surface of the water, tiny aquatic beetles have been seen diving down to the pools’ bottoms, and baby water fleas have been gliding through the emerging aquatic plants. We will need a few more substantial storms to hit the valley before the pools are filled. If we continue to receive a steady flow of rainwater, within a couple weeks the pools should be bustling with life. 

Below a layer of dead thatch, the upland soil is coated in green, sprouting vegetation. One of the most noticeable species on the prairie floor is Broadleaf filaree, a master of self propagation. Most of the upland native forbs have yet to spring up. Late spring and summer blooming plants like Twiggy Tarweed, Fitch’s Spikeweed and Turkey Mullein are still visible, even though they are now dead and dry.

Sandhill Cranes are still hanging around the valley. In early spring they will migrate back to their northern breeding grounds. Soon they will begin their courtship displays, which resemble an elegant dance. They flap their wings, leap gracefully, take sweeping bows and toss debris into the air with their beaks to show their affection. When Sandhill Cranes form a pair bond, the bond is for life, lasting for years until one of them passes away. 

This year’s Splash students will be the first ever to see this newly constructed sign honoring the great Illa Collin. Illa Collin, elected in 1978, served for 28 years as a beloved Sacramento County Supervisor. During her career she helped create the American River Parkway and Sacramento Tree Foundation, and supported social programs for children and the elderly. We are betting at least one kid will ask about the name of this incredible visionary as we pass by this sign heading into the preserve. First day of field trips is less than a month away!

Sign up now for Splash’s Critter Walks!

At Splash, we spend most of our time exploring nature with public elementary students, but on four Sundays each year, we welcome the public to join us for guided tours of the Mather Field Vernal Pools. Two of the four dates take place in March during the wet season; our famed Vernal Pool Critter Walks! Volunteer docents and Splash field guides lead these fun, hands-on tours through the Illa M. Collin preserve. The tours last two hours and are geared for individuals and families. 

Vernal Pool Critter Walks

During the wet phase, the vernal pools host dozens of species of aquatic invertebrates. Larger animals who depend on these tiny critters visit the pools to dine: frogs, snakes, shore birds, wading birds, and more. If you want to meet them, along with their famous vernal pool friends, the Fairy Shrimp and Tadpole Shrimp, join us for a Critter Walk!

Sunday, March 1, 10 AM
Sunday, March 1, 1 PM
Sunday, March 15, 10 AM
Sunday, March 15, 1 PM

Register for a Critter Walk here!

Coming up next…Vernal Pool Flower Walks! In our February newsletter, we will provide registration information for our “Flower Walks” taking place in April. Stay tuned!

Fast Pitch 2020

An exciting new adventure is underway! Splash has been granted the opportunity to be a part of Social Venture Partners’ “Fast Pitch” 2020 program. Social Venture Partners is a global philanthropic network that strengthens nonprofits and the communities that surround them. What is “Fast Pitch”? It’s a 4-month social innovation program designed to empower nonprofits in their ability to tell their story.

Only 20 nonprofits in the region are selected to participate – we are overjoyed to be one of them! During the program, each nonprofit works with a pair of coaches to craft a compelling 3-minute pitch about their organization. The top ten finalists present their pitch at the Golden 1 Center in April in front of an audience of over 1,000 community members and potential funders. If Splash makes the cut, CEO Mackenzie Wieser will take the stage on that special evening in April.

There are many award opportunities during pitch night at the Golden 1 Center, including a “Spirit Award” that’s given to the nonprofit with the most spirited audience members. This means YOU! We’re calling out to all Splashers to join us on this journey. This is an incredible opportunity to share our legacy with so many who may not know we exist. Email Mackenzie at with stories and memories you’d be willing to share. If Splash is selected to present at the Golden 1 Center, be sure to come show your spirit and cheer us on!

On the air with Access Sacramento!

On Tuesday morning Splash CEO Mackenzie sat down with JoAnn Fuller from Access Sacramento to talk about Splash’s programs and her passion for the organization. Tune into “Because People Matter”, which airs this Thursday, January 16th, at 12:00 pm on KUBU 96.5 FM or online at to listen to her interview! We’re grateful to Access Sacramento for the opportunity to share the magic of Splash on air with our local community.

Field Season Wish List

Looking for a way to contribute to Splash’s Investigating Vernal Pools field trips? Donate one of the items on our field season wish list!

– 7th Generation unbleached paper towels (Used for critter care)

– New or gently used rain boots for students in need (Youth sizes 3 & 4, adult sizes 5 & 6)

– Rain ponchos (Non-PVC. Adult size for larger students, youth size for most)

– Spotting scope (15-60 power zoom, 80 mm objective lens)

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