Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2016

Safety Tips for Prey Animals

Above are some photos of a Western screech owl, a member of the Sierra Outdoor School raptor center.  What is the first word that comes to mind when you see her?  There is a good chance you thought "cute."  Her diminutive stature(not much taller than a soda can) and big eyes make us humans view her in the same way we would view a puppy dog—adorable, harmless and the like.  In doing so it is easy to overlook the fact that the Western screech owl is a raptor, a bird that hunts and kills other animals for its food. 

For the duration of this article, we'd like you to pretend that you are a prey animal of this owl. Take your pick of what you'd like to be.  These owls will take the usual small mammals (mice, rats, etc.) and birds, but are also known for eating reptiles (snakes and lizards) and even insects, sometimes catching them while in flight.  Not even the aquatic animals are safe—these owls have been known to capture and kill trout and crayfish.  If you'd rather b…

Senescense: Why leaves change color

Here at Sierra Outdoor School we have few large trees that provide the bulk of our autumn color: black oak, big leaf maple, and Pacific dogwood. All of these trees are deciduous - meaning that each year they shed all of their leaves, remain leafless for a period of time, and then grow all new leaves. The process where the leaves prepare to fall from the tree, or the cells gradually deteriorate as they age, can be referred to as senescense. During this process of senescense, the pigment levels in the leaves change producing the much awaited fall colors.

The change in day length and temperature signals deciduous trees to begin the process of senescense by first sending any nutrients available in the leaf to other parts of the tree. The next step is to breakdown chlorophyll, the pigment that gives leaves their green color and allows for photosynthesis to occur. As the dominant green pigment slowly disappears, other colors are revealed: yellow, orange, red, and purple. After the chlorophy…

Where are they now...2015-2016 SOS Naturalist Interns?

Every year SOS says hello and goodbye to some great Naturalist Interns. This post is dedicated to the amazing people from the 2015-2016 school year. Let's see where they are now!


Andrew Martin (Summit)
Andrew is enjoying teaching children in the outdoors at Sierra Outdoor School as a Naturalist. He loves living and working in the mountains and SOS is the perfect place for him. He is excited about his new roommate, Juno, his puppy, and about learning and working with the SOS raptors.  


Beth Thompson (Owl)
Beth is working at Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center in Yellow Springs, Ohio, as the Program Coordinator Administrative Intern. She is communicating with the schools prior to their arrival to gather information for their visit to the OEC. She also develops the schedule rotations for the naturalists. As one of three administrative interns, she mentors a third of the naturalists and provides input and advice on their lesson plans and teaching techniques. While her position does not re…

Meet Our New Naturalist Interns!

We have eight new naturalist interns at Sierra Outdoor School for the 2016-2017 school year! They are all super excited to join the team. Here's some interesting information about them!

Robin VanHouten
Nature Name: Sun Dog
Hometown: Granite, Maryland
Fun Fact: Robin's dream job as a kid was to be an astronaut... and he still hasn't given up on that dream.
Best Nature Experience: He has seen a moose, bears, a grey wolf, and a mountain lion (only 30 yards away!).
If you could only eat one food item for the rest of your life what would it be? Bruschetta- roasted garlic, aioli, pesto, tomatoes, and good bread!


Amanda Colley Nature Name: Salamanda Hometown: Wingdale, New York Fun Fact: Amanda was a part of a reforestation project in Ecuador and helped plant 1500 trees. Best Nature Experience: While she was teaching and searching for amphibians, she witnessed hundreds of young toads emerging from the water for the first time!
Preferred superpower? Teleportation! Brenna O'Halloran
Nature …

How to Start a School Environmental Club in 8 Easy Steps!

Hello students!

Have you recently come to Sierra Outdoor School and want to continue the fun? Did you write an earth pledge in our Raptors and Conservation class and want to follow your dreams of helping the planet? Are you coming to Sierra Outdoor School in the future and are wondering how you can prepare for an awesome experience?
Then creating an environmental club at your school may be the perfect idea for you!
Making a club at your school can sound like a lot of work, but with our easy 8 step guide you'll have it up and running in no time!
Step 1) Gather your friends!
Get a group of friends together and talk about your goals and dreams for an environmental club.  Are there things you learned about protecting the planet, saving the animals, and reducing your earth footprint at Sierra Outdoor School that you want to continue doing at school?  Did you get inspired by the story of Olivia's Birds (http://www.oliviabouler.net/), who raised over $200,000 to help the birds in the gulf oi…

What Is Your Play Personality?

Recent research has shed light on the importance of play. Play is not just important for children, but people of all ages.
What Is Play? Play is any activity that is done for its own sake, apparently purposeless. It has inherent attraction and frees you from a sense of time and consciousness of self. Play can produce surprise, pleasure, and new knowledge. 
How Do We Play? Just as people learn in different ways, people also have different styles of playing. Read the following descriptions to learn your play personality. You may find one play personality describes you perfectly, or you may be a combination of two or more personalities. 
The Joker-- This play personality is the classic class clown. They use social strategies to make other people laugh. 
The Kinesthete-- This player likes to move. They may play athletic games, but competition is not their main focus. They like to feel the result of play in their bodies. 
The Explorer-- The explorer may be a physical, social, or emotional …

Winter Precipitation: Rain, Sleet, Snow, and more!

The winter here at Sierra Outdoor School has been a wet one so far, as El NiƱo visits California this year. As several of our school groups have been here spending time learning outside in all sorts of weather conditions, we decided to share some information about how different types of precipitation are formed.
The most common types of winter precipitation are those that most people can name: rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow. What many people are unaware of is that all winter precipitation begins as ice or snow crystals up in the cold cloud layer. If these crystals get big enough that the air rising from below can no longer support them against gravity, they begin to fall as precipitation. What they are by the time they reach the ground depends upon the air temperatures they encounter on the way down.

Rain, for example, begins as those ice or snow crystals and falls into a layer of air that is above freezing--and therefore, warm enough to melt it. If that warmer air continues al…

Fuel Break Helps Limit the Oak Fire

Visitors coming to the Sierra Outdoor School this year will notice something different on the drive in: a wildfire scar along a section of Old Oak Ranch Road from the Oak Fire. On September 8th two fires started along Big Hill Road and quickly burned up hill and joined together. The fire reached Old Oak Ranch Road before the fire was contained about half a mile away from the school. The fire burned 108 acres.







Besides the quick response of local firefighters and aircraft, a recently completed fuel break played a crucial role in slowing progression of the fire and limiting its spread. Work on the two-mile long, 300-foot wide shaded fuel break was started in September 2014 and finished that spring. The goal of this project was to provide fire protection to the local area and improve forest health. Fuel breaks will not stop a fire themselves, but slow a fire’s spread and provide defensible space. On September 8th that’s what it did.
The Picture on the left is from the Cone Fi…