A Day in the Life

August 20th, 2014 by Lisa Sanphillippo

imagine
you are outside. The sun is shining, illuminating the new growth on the western red cedars. It’s been a great growing season and the plants at Washington Park Arboretum are thriving. The backdrop of evergreen trees is a lovely frame to all of the native and non-native plants in the collection. Now, if they would just get here!

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Photo by Lisa Sanphillippo

Just when you thought you couldn’t wait any longer, here comes the bus holding 60 scheduled school-aged children just bursting with energy and excitement to be out of school and outside on such a fine day as this. Today, you will be teaching 15 of them the Native Plants and Native People program. What is native? What is invasive? Who was born in this state? Who are the Puget Sound Salish People? The kids get engaged by the questions you ask. You are showing them their participation and input is valuable.

You will focus some of their amazing energy into a running game about what it is people need to survive. After they have run out some of their shenanigans, you might point out that most everything folks need to survive comes from plants. And with the Puget Sound Salish People, they didn’t just use any old plants; they used plants that are native – original to this place.

Photo by Jacob Smithers

It will surprise you how many of them know what a western red cedar looks like. The J-shaped branches and the flat leaves are very familiar to most of them. But, you can still teach them about western hemlock and its different length needles and puzzle-piece bark. Douglas fir might be new to them, too. Though, once the children see the deep and creviced bark and the way-up high branches, it will be hard for them to forget. Maybe you will tell them the story of the mouse looking for a safe home during a forest fire using the cones of each to differentiate and describe the three trees. You know that story will create a great memory for them about how to identify all three trees.

You will show them artifacts made by local Ethnobotanist, Heidi Bohan. They will get a chance to touch and hold a model of a cedar weaving, fishing spear or canoe bailer. Each made to demonstrate how plants can be used to create a beautiful and useful object that could help a person survive and thrive. When you ask the kids what they use in their everyday lives that is made from plants, you are impressed that the list they give you is so long.

Photo by Jacob Smithers

When you show them to salal and Oregon grape plants and tell them about how berries from each were mixed together along with huckleberry to make a delicious berry cake sort of like a fruit roll up, you can see that they are almost ready for lunch! To distract them, you get them going on the hands-on activities.

This is your favorite part, because they have to work together as a team – just as Puget Sound Salish people of the past and present – to understand how to use a fire bow and drill or to build a single wall of a plank house or to learn how to cook food below the ground. It’s a great distraction because they’ve forgotten about their hunger for a moment as they dig in to the task at hand.

Jacob Smithers

It’s nearly the end of the program, now. You gather them together and ask each person to tell you something they learned or liked from the field trip. It is thrilling how many of them remember that the western hemlock makes sunscreen, how Douglas fir has mouse butts in the cones or that homes can be made without nails.

You thank them and walk them back to the start where their bus will come for them and take them back to school. You hope they will remember today as a positive and fun day. You hope the time here will aid them in their classroom work. Most of all, you hope they will continue to love and learn about plants and one day be a person who advocates for and serves the environment.

You head back to the work room to talk with your fellow guides about the kids and their chaperones and to put away the activities and props from the program. You are tired – sheesh, kids take it out of you – but you are proud to be a part of something important and worthy.

This is the kind of day we get to have at University of Washington Botanic Gardens Washington Park Arboretum. Is it the kind of day you might like?

Our Volunteer Garden Guides bring their knowledge and skills to teach about native plants, forests, pollination, photosynthesis, wetland plants and animals, ecosystems and habitat. We provide training, curricula and enrichments so each person is confident and comfortable teaching.

Consider donating your valuable time and expertise to connecting kids to nature through field trips. We welcome you to be a part of our incredible team of staff and volunteers. We can tell you will fit right in.

  • UW Botanic Gardens Volunteer Garden Guide Training begins September 5th with a kayak tour of the Washington Park Arboretum and continues the following week.
  • For more information about becoming a volunteer and training, please contact Lisa Sanphillippo, School Programs Coordinator, at 206-543-8801 or lsanphil@uw.edu.
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Students: Earth day work party at the Arboretum April 12

March 25th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

SCA2014EarthDayJoin the Student Conservation Association for our annual Earth Day service event while celebrating the 30th anniversary of SCA’s conservation leadership youth program in Seattle! Attending will be Liz Putnam, SCA’s Founder and the first conservationist to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal—the nation’s second highest civilian award! Following a short program in the meadow, volunteers will prune back overgrown vegetation, remove invasive plant species, and re-vegetate areas with native plants.

WHEN: Saturday, April 12th, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
WHERE: Washington Park Arboretum, 2300 Arboretum Dr. E, Seattle, WA 98112
WHAT: Invasive plant removal, planting native species, and spreading mulch
BRING WITH YOU: Please wear weather-appropriate clothing and sturdy shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty
PROVIDED: Whole Foods Market in South Lake Union will provide breakfast. SCA will also provide work gloves and all project supplies.

Please register at earthdayseattle.eventbrite.com to complete the online volunteer waiver.

Questions? Contact Meredith Stone at wanw@thesca.org or 206-324-4649.

Recruit your friends: share this FLYER or this post.

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Rare Care Wraps up a Productive Year and Preps for 2014

January 10th, 2014 by Wendy Gibble
Rare plants

Washington’s rare plants monitored by Rare Care volunteers.

2013 was another busy year for Washington Rare Plant Care and Conservation (Rare Care). Our corps of volunteer citizen scientists contributed their expertise and time to monitor over 150 rare plant populations across Washington State. Some of these sites were visited during our annual monitoring weekend, which took place at Hanford Reach National Monument last year. We also added 20 collections to the Miller Seed Vault, including eight new species to the collection. You can read all about our 2013 monitoring and seed collecting efforts in our annual reports.

Rare Care will be offering a volunteer trainings on March 1, 2014 for our rare plant monitoring project. This citizen science project provides critically needed information on the status of Washington’s rare plants. Volunteers visit rare plant populations throughout the state and provide information on population sizes, habitat characteristics, and potential threats to the populations. Because many of these populations are visited once every decade or less, the data contributed by volunteer monitors are critical for long-term conservation of Washington’s rare plants.

Would you like to become a part of this valuable effort and have an opportunity to become familiar with some of the rare plants of Washington State? Volunteering with Rare Care provides an opportunity for you to explore Washington’s native flora, visit premier examples of Washington’s native ecosystems, and continue to build your plant identification skills. To participate in the program, volunteer rare plant monitors need to have some experience identifying native plants in the field, have a commitment to native plant conservation and good observation skills, be able to commit a few days during the spring and summer, and be able to provide their own transportation. Visit our volunteer page to learn more!

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Academic opportunities at the Botanic Gardens

September 20th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff
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Make connections, gain experience, have fun: get involved at the UW Botanic Gardens!

Welcome UW Students! Make time in your busy schedule to get involved at the Botanic Gardens*. You won’t regret the investment because not only will you gain experience but you will also make connections with professionals and fellow students.

Ways to get involved:

What we do:

  • environmental horticulture
  • restoration ecology
  • public garden management
  • collection development
  • information management
  • communication & social networking
  • marketing
  • curriculum design
  • archives
  • curation
  • arboriculture
  • urban ecology
  • environmental education
  • integrated pest management
  • rare plant conservation
  • continuing education
  • visitor experience & interpretation
  • inventory ground-truthing & GIS mapping
  • surveying

*UW Botanic Gardens has two sites: the Washington Park Arboretum and the Center for Urban Horticulture and includes the Miller Library and Hyde Herbarium. Programs include continuing education for adults, outdoor programs for children plus conservation and restoration projects.

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Learn by Doing: Volunteer at the Botanic Gardens

June 6th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff
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Junior Summer Camp Guides at the Arboretum learn leadership skills and environmental knowledge.

We need your help! We depend on volunteers to keep our gardens looking beautiful, our plant records up to date and the kids programs running smoothly.

Want to get involved, get some work experience, meet new people, have fun? Apply online today!

  • WPA Junior Summer Camp Guides are  high school or college students who teach the little kids about the environment and help keep summer camp running smoothly. Junior Garden Guide Job Description (doc).
  • Plant Records Assistant help with documenting and mapping our living plant collections at the Washington Park Arboretum.
  • Arboretum Visitor Center Front Desk Assistant greets visitors and answers questions. Share your passion about the Arboretum in this position.

These positions and many more are listed on the UWBG Volunteer page.

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UWBG Bioblitz 2013 at the Washington Park Arboretum

April 9th, 2013 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

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A bioblitz is a biological inventory that takes place over a short period of time (usually 24hrs) in a specified area (in this case the Washington Park Arboretum). The purpose of a bioblitz is to take a snap shot of biodiversity, which is a way to measure the health of an ecosystem. The more organisms found, the healthier the ecosystem. We value bioblitzes at the UWBG for a number of reasons: they’re a tool to help us manage our site as sustainably as possible; they’re a great way to engage with our community and raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity (even in urban environments); and since they are hands-on and fast-paced, they are also a lot of fun.

The way it works is there will be 2.5 hour shifts during which small groups of citizen scientists & UW students will go out with one of our field scientists in search of various taxa (birds, bats, bugs, fungi, plants, mammals, etc.). As a team, they try to ID and count what they find and record the location where they found it. In some cases (e.g. fungi, insects) specimens can be collected and identified later.

Space is limited, so click here to sign up for a shift today!

Don’t want to volunteer, but want to attend Paul Bannick’s presentation, The Life of Owls, on Friday evening? Non-volunteers can pay $8 to attend: click here to register

When: Friday, May 10th & Saturday May 11th

Friday:
4pm-6:30pm
6:30-8pm (dinner for volunteers & lecture from 7-8pm with wildlife photographer, Paul Bannick. Please register to attend the talk.)
8pm-10:30pm

Saturday:
7am-9:30am (early birders)
10am-12:30am
1pm-3:30pm
3:30-4pm (show & tell)

Where: Graham Visitors Center (2300 Arboretum Dr E Seattle WA)

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bioblitz flyer

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Work parties to restore nature

February 22nd, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

The students involved with UW Restoration Ecology Network need the public’s help restoring degraded natural areas in urban sites. Join a work party to rip out invasive weeds, build trails, spread mulch and many more invigorating tasks.

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

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Click for work party details

Yesler Swamp Trail

Proposed dates

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UW Botanic Gardens Spring Break and Summer Camps

February 19th, 2013 by Sarah Heller, Community Programs Coordinator & Fiddleheads Forest School Director

It’s that time of year again when we pull out our calendars and begin to think about summer plans. Consider signing your child up to play and learn outside all summer! We are offering seven weeks of outdoor, nature-based summer camps at the Washington Park Arboretum. New themes have been added like Wetland Rangers and Northwest Naturalists, and kept some of our favorites like Woodland Wonders and Art in the Park.

We are also offering a spring break camp in conjunction with the Seattle Public Schools spring break week. What better way to spend a week in April than exploring our 230 acres of natural wonderland in the heart of Seattle? Spring break is supposed to be a *break* so we plan to play games, go on hikes and adventures through the nooks and crannies of the Arboretum, and tackle projects like building a fort, creating Andy Goldsworthy inspired art and exploring the uses of our native plants.

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Interested in working at our summer camp? Apply to be a Summer Garden Guide!

We also have volunteer opportunities for high school students! Check out our Junior Garden Guide position and application.

 

 

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What’s new in Union Bay Natural Area for 2013, you ask?

February 10th, 2013 by Rosemary Baker, UBNA RA

Greetings! I’m excited and grateful to be the 2013 UBNA graduate student manager for winter and spring quarters. I will be leading volunteer groups maintaining restoration sites throughout the natural area and this season we have begun an internship program with students from Edmonds Community College!

The interns and I are working every Tuesday and Thursday through early June, so if you have any interest in getting dirty, releasing some pent up aggression on the proper objects (weeds!), and basking in the beauty of urban nature, we’re happy to have individual folks join us.  Or if you have a group and wish to arrange for a volunteer work party please contact UBNA manager, Dr. Kern Ewing. His contact info can be found through the University of Washington staff directory.

UBNA Assistant manager, Rosemary Baker planting Skunk cabbage

UBNA Assistant manager, Rosemary Baker planting Skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanum)

Am so pleased to contribute to the Center for Urban Horticulture community. Happy gardening!

-Rosemary Baker

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Training Dates Announced

January 16th, 2013 by Lisa Sanphillippo

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UWBG School Programs serve over 6,000 kids a year and we could not possibly do it without the help of our volunteers. We are hiring volunteer Garden Guides now and have two dates to get folks started on their journey to engage kids in the great outdoors.

Saturday February 9th from 11:00 – 3:00 pm and
Saturday February 16th from 11:00 – 3:00 pm

Guides need only attend one training, but are welcome to both. Both trainings will cover an introduction to the University of Washington Botanic Gardens as well as round table and in the field discussions about class management, interpretation techniques and age appropriate teaching.

2-way viewer for Paige

February 9th we will focus on our Plants 101 and 201 programs and February 16th we’ll focus on Wetlands 101 and 201. New guides will learn what the big ideas of each program are, how the student’s age affects the level and amount of information given and how to use the props and activities in the field.

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If you would like to fill nature with children and teach them about plant science, ecology and more, contact Lisa Sanphillippo at 206-543-8801 or lsanphil@uw.edu for more information.

We value our volunteers for their time, experience and dedication! We hold enrichments, training and other educational opportunities regularly. Call or email now to become a treasured part of our team.

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