The Museum kicked off National Volunteer Week on Monday with a visit to Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. This was a great opportunity with two purposes: our staff was able to thank our volunteers by offering them a fun new learning experience, and our volunteers were able to help another local organization.
Our morning began with a project at the Reserve’s greenhouse. Under the supervision of stewardship specialist Bree Candiloro, our volunteers divided and transplanted creeping wild rye into over 700 individual pots. This native grass will later be planted on habitat restoration sites around the slough property. Our group was also treated to a look at the demonstration garden beside the greenhouse, which is currently putting on a showy display of California poppies, sky lupine, succulent lupine, sticky monkeyflower, and a variety of grasses, including purple needlegrass, the official grass of the state of California.
Museum volunteers working alongside Slough staff and volunteers to transplant creeping wild rye.
Admiring the demonstration garden beside the greenhouse
After a break for lunch (which included a gorgeous view of the slough and a visit from cliff swallows and Western bluebirds), Volunteer Coordinator Amanda Ankenbrandt led us on a tour of the visitor’s center before taking us outside for a hike on the 2.5 mile South Marsh Loop Trail, which passes through a variety of habitats. The hike offered a look at maritime chaparral, saltmarsh, mudflat, freshwater ponds, oak woodlands, and grasslands. We enjoyed the diversity of birds and plants in each habitat, and Amanda shared her vast knowledge of the Slough and its history as we walked. Fun sightings included a large group of acorn woodpeckers, a number of enormous white pelicans, and native flowers such as woodmint and vetch. Along the mudflats we spotted evidence of feeding leopard sharks and bat rays.
Watching great egrets and snowy egrets foraging side by side. From this bridge we could also see holes dug in the mud by foraging leopard sharks and bat rays.
Flower of a native vetch
Thank you to all of our volunteers, including those who participated in this event as well as the ones that help the Museum stay open throughout the year.
Also, our thanks to everyone at the slough who made this event possible! Amanda shared this quote by John Muir at the end of our hike: “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” It was a perfect summary of our day.