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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
SAN DIEGO NWR:  Celebrating 15 years with Families, Art, and Nature!
Region 8, April 10, 2011
Kids wave to the camera from inside the FWS fire truck. (Lisa Cox/USFWS)
Kids wave to the camera from inside the FWS fire truck. (Lisa Cox/USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
Refuge Biologist John Martin leads a listening session for endangered birds, such as the Least Bell's vireo.  (USFWS Photo courtesy Earl S. Cryer)
Refuge Biologist John Martin leads a listening session for endangered birds, such as the Least Bell's vireo.  (USFWS Photo courtesy Earl S. Cryer) - Photo Credit: n/a
Refuge Biologist John Martin leads one of three nature hikes throughout the day. (Lisa Cox/USFWS)
Refuge Biologist John Martin leads one of three nature hikes throughout the day. (Lisa Cox/USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a
Chula Vista Nature Center's volunteer Janelle Durrer educates the visitors about
Chula Vista Nature Center's volunteer Janelle Durrer educates the visitors about "Cory" the barn owl.  (Lisa Cox/USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

By Lisa Cox, San Diego NWR Complex

A sunny and beautiful day welcomed neighbors old and new to celebrate the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge's 15 anniversarry, Sunday, April 10, 2011.

Refuge trail users, partners in conservation, and children and their parents from several different elementary schools nearby the Refuge joined in the festivities. Refuge staff Jill Terp, Jim Kelly, John Martin, Chantel Jimenez, Lisa Cox, Rex Hambly, and Phil Hoover, and Conservation Biology Institute’s Community Outreach Coordinator Cathy Chadwick prepared to take on the day’s activities, and share the Refuge’s natural wonders to those who came to visit.

After signing in with Cathy and Refuge volunteers Dave and Michele Hernandez, the visitors were given a goodie bag with Refuge posters, pens, and water bottles, colored pencils, sketchbooks, and Refuge key chains for as long as they lasted only a couple of hours! They were then free to participate in nature related art and writing activities, go on a nature walk, visit the Refuge Fire Engine, and see live raptors from the Chula Vista Nature Center and Sky Hunters, while enjoy refreshments including “decorate your own” birthday cookies.

Nearly 150 kids who attended connected with nature through art, asartist and Refuge Friends treasurer Gaye Lingley encouraged drawing and painting, Karen Scanlon helped the children with writing nature notes, Annika Nelson taught printmaking, and Christine D’Amico created Mad-Lib stories. Many took home their own wonderful artwork to remember the day.

Biologist John Martin, assisted by Lisa Cox and Jim Kelly, led three different groups totaling 64 people out onto the Refuge interpretive loop trail for a forty-minute hike along the riparian habitat of willows, sycamores, and cottonwoods. John paused to point out the endangered San Diego Ambrosia, and why and how this plant is being protected. Other special species encountered included the rare snake cholla cactus and endangered least Bell’s vireo.

The kids practiced viewing the raptors soaring in the sky with their loaned-Refuge binoculars. Refuge Friends board member Susan Fuller graciously maintained order at the cookie decorating table which was full of nature shaped treats and even Refuge Blue Goose cookies baked by Tina Mathias of the Chula Vista Nature Center!

Also there from the Chula Vista Nature Center was Director of Conservation & Communications Charles Gailband and volunteer Janelle Durrer to display and educate the visitors about native animals on the Refuge, such as red tailed hawks, burrowing owls, barn owls, and even a rosy boa. Nancy Conney of Sky Hunters, a non-profit organization promoting raptor conservation, was also there with additional birds of prey, including an American kestrel and a western screech owl. These great conservation partners increased the visitors’ knowledge and appreciation of our local wildlife.

FWS Fire Engine 58 and Refuge fire fighters Rex Hambly and Phillip Hoover were a big hit. It was a great photo opportunity and experience for the children who wanted to climb inside the truck and pretend to be a real fire fighter for the Refuge.

Finally, “Puddles” the Refuge Blue Goose made an appearance, to the delight of the visitors there. It was a great surprise to have Puddles there, but soon he had to fly north because the afternoon was getting so hot! Nearly 280 visitors attended the event, at least three times the number anticipated, so it was a wonderful sense of exhaustion felt by the Refuge staff, friends, and artists.

Through all the coordination and planning of the Refuge’s staff and partners, the day was a huge success. According to staffers, the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge planning for it 20th Birthday celebration in 2016.

-- FWS --

Contact Info: Lisa Cox, 619.476.9150 ext. 106, lisa_cox@fws.gov