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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

VENTURA FWO: Oxnard Earth Day Festival 2009: Celebrating Our Planet.

Region 8, April 4, 2009

by Kate Eschelbach, Ventura FWO
Now in its 17th year, the Oxnard Earth Day Festival, hosted and sponsored by the City of Oxnard, California, is stronger than ever! The Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (VFWO) and the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex (NWRC) were there once again to provide information on the local environment and how to get involved in protecting it, as well as a chance for interaction with many of the agencies and organizations that are involved in natural resource protection and conservation in Oxnard, California and beyond.

This year’s event took place on April 4, 2009, at Plaza Park in downtown Oxnard.  Staff from Hopper Mountain NWRC (Ivett Plascencia and Timothy Melham) and the VFWO (Irma Barraza, Kate Eschelbach, and Nic Huber) teamed up to provide information on local threatened and endangered species, such as the California condor, careers with USFWS, and ways to participate in activities locally, such as getting involved with monitoring of listed birds at local beaches, planting gardens for pollinators, and monitoring native plants for climate change (through contributions to the Project BudBurst website, www.budburst.org). The USFWS exhibit featured a table with information about USFWS and its many programs along with a California condor skull, egg, and transmitter.  It also had a second, equally popular table, situated lower to the ground, for young Festival attendees to sit and color one (or several!) of the many coloring sheets on California condors, native plants, or California sea otters that were provided. All visitors to the exhibit left with the message to go outside and enjoy and explore their local environment!

Several new partnerships were forged with other participating groups in Oxnard during the event. One new partnership in particular formed as a result of the City of Oxnard’s efforts to capture and document the event on film.  The Oxnard Housing Authority has a branch specifically for encouraging youth in the community to participate in multimedia based projects called Barrio Productions. The crew of Barrio Productions (primarily high school students in Oxnard) interviewed all of the exhibitors at the event and produced a video that was aired on the local television station, Oxnard Citywatch Television, for several weeks after the event.  USFWS staff were among those interviewed and highlighted in the video, but upon speaking further with Barrio Productions (off camera), we learned we had many overlapping interests in the realm of connecting people with nature.  With many thanks to the Region 8 Connecting People with Nature Team and the Southwest Pacific Region, the VFWO and Barrio Productions are currently working to create a video and blog!  These products are intended to be included on the Project BudBurst website to promote citizen science participation through creating a forum for how to create native plant gardens in Oxnard.

“The goal of Earth Day is to inspire people to think about our earth’s natural resources and encourage them to do what they can to protect these resources,” said Trish Honigsberg, of Oxnard’s Communication and Public Information Office. “We believe that every individual action, no matter how small, has a cumulative impact on our environment.  Every year more and more children participate and have a great time. The festival is filled with entertainment and activities created just for them and if they leave with even one additional bit of information to help our environment, then we have made a difference” (quote in the Ventura County Star, published March 3, 2009).

Staff at Hopper Mountain NWRC and the VFWO were happy to be a part of a day that did just that – and more. The theme of this year’s event was “The Sky’s the Limit” and we hope that through this event, the attendees will not limit themselves when it comes to learning more about their local environment, and instead celebrate the earth every day!

Click here for more information on the City of Oxnard’s Earth Day Festival.

 

Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov