So, Facebook reminded me that February (2/20/17, to be exact), marked the one year anniversary of my first day of volunteering at Turtle Bay’s gardens & greenhouse! My great friend of almost 35 years, Sharon, and I had decided to leap into the volunteer world after a year of “retirement” and agreed that Turtle Bay would be ideal — especially in the nursery. We excitedly attended a volunteer information/recruitment meeting, then later reported for an orientation and interview with Lisa Endicott in the Nursery offices. (We later learned that Lisa is the Horticulture Manager, and here a year later, I have come to learn that she knows the Latin name for every plant, instantaneously. Without fail. She is amazing!)
Anyway, Sharon and I officially reported for duty on 2/20/16. We signed in excitedly in the gardens’ little office, selected our gloves (provided by the nursery) and headed to the greenhouse where we were greeted by Lynne Klocke (world’s best mentor and most patient person EVER). We were agog over the seedlings & plants in every stage of growth in the greenhouse. Lynne quickly put us to work. Our first assignment was… propagation! (Sharon & I looked at each other in astonishment and wonder and, yes… a little fear. What the heck?!) We learned that everything in the Turtle Bay Nursery & Gardens either comes from seeds, or through propagation (Webster’s definition: the breeding of specimens of a plant by root cuttings from the parent stock). No plants in Turtle Bay’s nursery or gardens are store bought. They’re all from seeds or via propagation; they’re drought-resistant, and California natives. We were amazed and impressed!
After a quick lesson on how to do it, Sharon & I went to work propagating a pile of Mexican Bush Sage cuttings and propagated away until all our little cuttings were done and placed in the perlite soil, per instructions. When we were done with that assignment (smiling and quite pleased with ourselves), Lynne loaded us up with a few flats of plants (16 plants per flat) ready to be transplanted into 1 gallon pots, and sent us outside to the table under the canopy covered with a mountain of the most beautiful soil ever, where we transplanted our hearts out for a couple more hours ’til we signed out that afternoon, tired and happy and looking forward to the following week.
Here it is, a year later… and I hope those little propagated cuttings worked, grew to be transplanted into gallon pots that were purchased at the Spring or Fall Plant Sales, and are thriving at happy new homes… maybe even at your home!
More adventures and learning experiences to follow!
Dr. R. Boyd fabricated the wooden case of the Kiosk. The challenge was to fit in the electronics, get the Kiosk to look nice, tamperproof the Kiosk, and have everything work:
We screwed the Kiosk onto the side of the current Beehive exhibit. It has a leg (visible at lower left) to add more support and stability. In the picture I am tightening the bolts that hold the Kiosk.
As can be seen above, the Kiosk is nearly self contained. It holds the computers to run the monitors, the wires to connect the computers to the monitors, and the wires to connect trackpads to the computers. We have those zipties to make all of those wires neater.
There is even a powerstrip to provide electricity. The only input it needs is electricity for that powerstrip!
When it was finally installed, it turned out great!
The Kiosk feels like an integral part of the original exhibit due to its colors and the use of repurposed wood. It also provides access to a plethora of information for everyone, regardless of prior knowledge.
The Kiosk contains 232 slides about the bees and allows the visitor to explore topics from a variety of levels, from beginner to advanced. It delves into the properties of a beehive, like the one at Turtle Bay, and how to make sense of what you see in the hive and beecam.
Speaking of the beecam, it turned out to be a wild success!
It was no problem to weld it together, and it provides a beautiful view of the entrance.
The beecam view is routed into this wall monitor:
It makes plainly visible the exterior beehive entrance from within the warm and cozy museum, even on cold and rainy days.
In the spring the hive will be renewed and there will be plenty to see and explore!
November 12th was the first Shasta County Mini Maker Faire. With 100+ vendors, over 2000 attendees and countless opportunities to create, this event met all of our expectations and more! Here are some highlights and pictures from the faire.
The Shasta County Mini Maker Faire was an opportunity for makers from all over North State and beyond to come together to not only showcase their passion, but to celebrate and inspire creativity, collaboration and hands-on experiences. This event was geared to be family-friendly and we are excited to share that over half of our attendees were under 18! We hope to continue this celebration as our younger community members are inspired by our local makers, educators, parents, and enthusiasts to build, design, innovate, and create.
Although many of the activities provided by our makers are more difficult to recreate than others, we couldn’t help but to give you some ideas and activities you could do at home! Stay connected with the our maker community by following us on Facebook. Happy making!
Our Volunteers are WONDER-FULL and support operations throughout the Park! In 2015, with over 24,955 hours of volunteer service (the equivalent of 12 full-time positions), Volunteers are vital to Turtle Bay!
We had over 300 adult volunteers and 164 teen volunteers dedicate their time and efforts throughout the Park in 2015 through activities such as:
Weeding and planting in our McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens that extends over 200 acres.
Providing enrichments and maintaining animal habitats in our Wildlife Woods, Mill Building, and River Tank Exhibit reaching over 150 animals here at Turtle Bay.
Leading museum tours and providing formal interpretive and education programs to 102,000 guests.
Preparing exhibitions and caring for our permanent collection of approximately 35,000 historic and art objects.
Assisting with preparing our monthly membership renewal letters to 5,800 member households.
Providing reception and supporting our administrative staff
Turtle Bay also provides one-time opportunities for community members to contribute their time and energy to benefit the Park, such as National Family Volunteer Day!
Family Volunteer Day is a day of service that celebrates the power of families who work together to support their communities and neighborhoods. Volunteering is a great way for kids and adults to make new friends, develop compassion for their neighbors, and even pick up a new skill or two! Each year, thousands of families use the day to teach children valuable, real-life lessons about compassion and caring.
National Family Volunteer Day is Saturday, November 19 this year and we have a variety of activities suitable for families of all ages! From Animal Care to Gardening, you and your family can support Turtle Bay and be a part of this national day of service! Arrive at 9am to volunteer for the event and enjoy the remainder of the day at Turtle Bay with free admission for all Volunteers! Other goodies will include a chance to win a Turtle Bay Family Membership and free kids meal coupons to Home Town Buffet for all participating children. Event check in will be in front of the Museum by Domke Plaza, located at 844 Sundial Bridge Drive, adjacent to Sundial Bridge.
Head to turtlebay.org for full details for this year’s National Family Volunteer Day and we hope to see you there!
“You look like a chimney sweep,” animal trainer Erin commented with a grin. It was true. I was coated from crown to sole with a titanium powder that looked remarkably similar to soot. Later that day, twigs and leaves, adhered by super sticky spider webbing, would dangle from my soaked shirt and shorts. Even under all this grime, I am ecstatically happy. Why? We’ll get there.
I am an Animal Care Volunteer at Turtle Bay Exploration Park. My main job consists of cleaning up after the animals and educating the public about them. Put that way, it sounds gross and maybe boring. Why do I love it at Turtle Bay? Because they are one of the only facilities that allows teens to regularly come into direct contact with the animals. Sure, I’m cleaning enclosures, but the animals are still inside. While cleaning, I have been less than three feet from an awe-inspiring golden eagle, a burrowing owl and a very friendly skunk. I have handled smooth snakes, flown a barn owl during a real animal show, stroked a badger, hugged a beaver and assisted in the creation of new enclosures.
On the other side of the scale, cleaning exhibits can be rather disgusting. Let’s just say you don’t want to get a whiff of skunk feces or vulture casts. I have prepared animal diets. This task includes the dissection of whole mice and chunks of beef heart. Also, when a fastidious raptor leaves rat skins and mice skulls overnight, guess who gets to pick them up? Often dishes will reek of warm blood and guts. Sometimes food (that must be removed by yours truly) gets overrun by ants, or worse, meat bees. Still, all these trials are minor inconveniences in comparison to the wonderful opportunity to interact with the animals at Turtle Bay. I work hard and get dirty, but the rewards are experiences of a lifetime.
Remember that day I described? The day I became a “chim-chiminey” sweep? One of my most cherished memories was formed that day. It began like any other Turtle Bay morning–no dark and stormy nights. My brother, Geoffrey, and I arrived at eight o’clock and, after putting away yesterday’s dishes, we walked down to Wildlife Woods to begin the daily cleansing of exhibits. I started on Buzz, a turkey vulture whom we laughingly dub “The Chicken Vulture,” for her inveterate habit of fright. “Oh gross,” I thought as I pulled down feathers, soaked with mouse guts from yesterday’s dinner, out of her mat. Slowly, but moving purposely, I sifted the sand covering her floor. When going over or under her perches I pantomimed scrubbing them so Buzz wouldn’t think I was observing her every move. Later I brought vinegar and a brush in and actually cleaned them, the brush spraying me with tainted chemical. Suddenly, Buzz jumped from her high branch to her platform. I held my breath because her mighty wings would stir up all the tiny feathers and minuscule debris remaining in the enclosure. Sure enough, a powerful breeze reached me, actually blowing my hair about. Finally finished, I backed out of the mew just as Buzz bounded back to her original spot. I dumped my full sifter into the waiting five gallon bucket and headed to the burrowing owl. Swivel is one of most wonderful creatures at Turtle Bay. He is a nine and a half inch fluff-ball with eyes as big as a child’s at Christmas. As I struggle to open the stiff, rattly doors leading to his exhibit he calmly observes me. Compared to Buzz he is a breeze to clean. Once everything is nearly completed he hops down on his stump, less than a foot away. He stares at me then bounces to the floor. As I stand up to leave, he stays. He stays while I attempt to open the door single-handed, a very noisy endeavor and one I failed. He stays while I bend down, even closer to him, to set my tools down. He stays while I eventually win my war with the door and exit. Thanks, Swivel. Next, and last on my list (because, with five volunteers cleaning goes quickly) is another owl. The barn owl screeches as I hike up to his mew. Before being allowed to clean an enclosure by ourselves, the animal trainers teach us about that animal’s peculiarities. Cricket’s is quite curious. He toe-dusts: a motion where he spreads his wings and sticks his head down, a sign of an upset barn owl. However, with this particular bird toe-dusting is a pretend. Our mixed up owl was raised among both humans and owls. He learned the behavior of toe-dusting but not when to use it. With me, he usually bluffs for a minute or two then goes back to sleep. The last thing I do for Cricket is scrub and sift underneath his shelter, and him. While I half-shuffle, half-crawl the last three paces, I hold one hand high above my head in a singularly awkward position. The barn owl is two feet above me. Swiftly finishing, I scoot backwards then stand up and exit from the enclosure. Cleaning complete, with feathers clinging everywhere, dirtied knees and vinegar spotting us, we volunteers respectively walk, skip and run back to the Animal Care kitchen.
The next duty is preparing for the twice-daily animal show. The sound system must be turned on, mics checked, stage swept, ice brought, props prepared, animals kenneled, and chant recited. With the audience filing in and “Trashin’ the Camp” blaring from our loud speakers, we joked around, joining the song on the “whoos.” The staff arrived also “whoo whoo-ing.” They took one look around and decided that an animal show didn’t require nine people to run smoothly. Geoffrey, Adrienne, and I were dispatched to work on the new exhibits. Comprised of four huge logs set into a cement square and panels of reinforced steel netting, they’re quite a job to construct. Adrienne, an experienced staff member, set up her ladder and went to work by herself, instructing Geoffrey and me to work together. I scurried up a tall ladder inside the evolving exhibit and Geoffrey did the same on the outside. My job was to stretch the surprisingly stiff mesh to the edge, where Geoffrey would then Zip-tie it to a cable, thereby securing the ceiling until it could be wired to the cable. Throwing all my weight on the herculean mesh, I drew it across the gap. My fingers, intertwined in the holes, were already losing circulation. “Hurry,” I gasped to Geoffrey who was pulling on his side and also attempting to thread a belligerent Zip-tie through the cable and the mesh. “I’m trying,” he muttered, all his attention on the infuriating Zip-tie. By the end of an hour, our hands were striped with black titanium powder from the wire and our arms feel ready to drop out of their sockets. Erin joined us and commented in surprise, “Wow Gloria, you look like a… chimney sweep!” She was entirely correct. My arms were covered in a diamond pattern derived from the mesh weave. My face was smudged all over, additional dust added where I’d brushed hair out of my eyes, or where the extra mesh had tumbled down on top of me. My new khaki shorts were khaki no more. I was filthy. I couldn’t wait to build exhibits again.
Adrienne sent Geoffrey and me into the kitchen to clean up as best we could, requesting us to join her at the museum when presentable. After I blackened several paper towels and a washcloth, Geoffrey and I speed-walked along the sweltering trail to the museum. Taking the steep stairs two at a time in an effort to mimic my brother’s stride, I slipped through the gate into the beaver’s exhibit. Timber’s home is built on a hill with a giant swimming hole that looks into the museum. He shares with fish. Lots of fish. As soon as Adrienne realizes we’re there, she starts Geoffrey demolishing Orb Weaver webs, and sends me inside for a cloth. When I finally locate a yellow micro-fiber rag in the lab, I hurry back out. Adrienne explains why it’s needed, “The glass inside Timber’s den is difficult to see through.” She continues, “Would you mind going in and wiping it clean?” Of course, I agreed. Carefully, lest I slip and swim with the fishes, I navigated the stepping stones. Reaching the entrance to the den I crouched down and peered into its depths. Various sized sticks completely covered the floor. On top of the branches lay a generous amount of straw. On the two foot high ceiling hung twenty to thirty daddy long legs spiders. Now balancing on a small bridge, I eased my upper body inside. Crawling on my elbows and toes and grasping my dust cloth, I reached the glass. For a moment, I paused enjoying the topsy turvy view of the museum. Several guests waved. Lying on my stomach I scrubbed at the dusty glass. Finally, I felt it was as good as it was going to get and I awkwardly backed out, glancing into the aquarium below. I emerged dusty, disheveled, daubed with dirt but triumphant. Straw clung to my front and spider webs dangled off my back. Geoffrey laughed. I laughed. Timber laughed. Okay, maybe not, but still… Suddenly Adrienne handed me some of Timber’s diet. “If you hold it to one side, he will climb in your lap.” Guess what I immediately did? Clumsily, the beaver climbed onto me. He was soaking wet, but I didn’t care. “You can touch him,” Adrienne told me. I stroked his unbelievably soft, nut brown fur. A grin spread across my face as Timber stayed with me without food. I felt his flat tail, marveling at the weird sensation my fingers encountered. Once he climbed down again, Adrienne gave us the remainder of his food. I called him onto me again. I neglected to make sure I was stable and Timber almost toppled me over. While Geoffrey kept Timber’s attention, I clambered to my feet. I was now as wet as Timber himself. Eager for more food, Mr. Beaver stood on his hind feet, supporting himself on us. He scrabbled with gentle paws on our legs to remind us that we held the food. His feet were smooth, like wet earth. Unfortunately, we eventually delivered all his diet to him, saving only one piece to place in his den while we left. I beamed all the way back to the Animal Care kitchen.
Clearly, this day deserves its spot in my memories. That day I hung out with a beaver, I discovered my unlimited capacity for grime, and I helped create new homes for the animals. This wild experience of volunteering at Turtle Bay will remain treasured far beyond my Teen Volunteer years.
Raise a hand if you remember the Fountain Fire of 1992? One of the worst fires in our county in recorded history, devastated 100 square miles of land and claimed over 300 homes forty miles east of Redding.
In response, the Forest Council of Turtle Bay started the Plant-a-Tree program to help reforest an area lost adjacent to the Hillcrest Rest Area on Hwy 299. The first trees were purchased in 1997 and were planted at that location through 2008, when the site was fully planted out. Smaller sites were planted between 2006-2008 as well, including at the Knighton Road/I5 interchange and in the Turtle Bay Arboretum Savannah.
In 2008, Turtle Bay joined forces with the Western Shasta Resource Conservation District to select new sites, meeting scientific criteria as areas of high need for rehabilitation. The first site was the historic Phillip Brothers Mill near Oak Run, California. Known as “America’s Last Steam Mill”, this special site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Check out their website to learn more about this amazing place… and schedule a tour!
In 2014, the first trees were planted at a new site on public lands – Lower Clear Creek’s China Gardens, Bureau of Land Management land accessed off Hwy. 273 southwest of Redding. This area was damaged by gold and aggregate mining and Whiskeytown Dam and is now part of a comprehensive plan to improve the riparian and floodplain habitat through restoration, ultimately aimed at improving the salmon population. For more on this area, check out this half-hour movie “From Devastation to Restoration – The Rebirth of Lower Clear Creek”
People purchase trees through this program for many occasions: weddings, births, holidays… but most trees are in memoriam. In 2014, we were honored to respond to requests to allow loved ones to participate in the plantings with our first Community Planting Day, held Nov. xx. Due to the drought in 2015, we were unable to plant, however, after a better year, we are pleased to offer our second Community Planting Day on Oct. 29 from 10-noon… and YOU are welcome to join us! Trees will be available for purchase on site, or anyone who has purchased or received a tree since Fall 2014 is welcome to join in. WSRCD will provide seedlings, shovels, and instruction.
Interested in checking out the site? It’s a lovely spot for a fall picnic. To get there…
Take Highway 273
Turn onto Clear Creek Road; go approx. 1 mile.
Park at the 1st BLM gate on the left (the gate is yellow)
Walk in and down the road about a quarter mile. You will see the tree tubes to the right.
Many groups have been memorializing their members through the Plant-a-Tree program. Special shout-outs to Redding Newcomers, Redding Elks Traildusters RV Club, Redding Emblem Club #515, Nor-Cal Chapter III Women’s Army Corps Veteran’s Association, Redding Elks Lodge #1073, Shasta County Assessor-Recorder Staff, Redding Rambling A’s, Redding Moose Lodge, Redding League of Women Voters, Doughty-Lewis Chapter for City of Hope, among many others, for their long-time support!
For more information on Plant-a-Tree and the organizations involved, here are some links:
Nicole Harris, the author of this post, has been a Teen Volunteer since June 2014 and currently serves as a Teen Volunteer representative on the Board here at Turtle Bay. She actively volunteers in our Education Department as well as at Special Events.
The Teen Volunteer Program is presented by Shasta College/”Doing What Matters” and United Way of Northern California.
On a recent Saturday morning, a group of teenagers got together to spend the early morning volunteering at the Turtle Bay McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. Most teens might sleep until noon on a Saturday, but for this group of dedicated students from Shasta High School’s Key Club and Botanical Society Club this Saturday morning was a time to get up early, put on their gloves, and get to work pulling weeds.
Eighteen teen volunteers came together from these two different clubs and joined forces to help weed a planter bed inside the Gardens. In just two hours these 18 teens accomplished a lot! As one teen volunteer, Erica Bade, put it, “It feels good to have helped out here in the Gardens, because you can see the difference you are making.”
As a Teen Volunteer at Turtle Bay and a member of both the Key Club and Botanical Society, it was a rewarding experience to have the opportunity to work alongside this group of teens in the Gardens. Everyone who was there seemed to enjoy the work they were doing. When asked if they would be interested in volunteering in the Gardens again, there was a resounding “Yes” in response. Through this experience we were able to meet new people, learn about native plants, and learn the values of hard work. One thing that really stood out to me was that some of these teen volunteers had never seen the Gardens before, but were still willing to put in their time and effort by giving up their Saturday morning to help their community.
When we had finished our work for the day, not only did we leave with a sense of accomplishment, but also with new friends and a better sense of community. I am proud to be able to say that I took part in organizing this event and gathering the volunteers needed to make this happen. I think we all took away more than we had expected from this experience, and I couldn’t be happier about that.
Make a Difference Day is this Saturday! This Saturday, October 22nd, volunteers from across the country will be making a difference in one of the largest annual single-days of service nationwide. Did you know that 1 in 4 Americans volunteer? We are thankful for our amazing group of Volunteers that make a difference daily here at Turtle Bay – thank you for serving your community and supporting Turtle Bay through your Volunteerism!