Education/Community Outreach

Public Education List of educational projects sponsored by FOAM

FOAM furthers public education by:

Left: Docents get a closer look Right: Docents on a training tour.

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Wonders of Wetlands

Fall 2013 WOW field trip to the Marsh.

The Wetlands on Wheels (WOW) school outreach program was started in 1998 with impetus from then board member Melinda Bailey. Instructors have come from several sources: the national AmeriCorps program, Humboldt State University students (under the tutelage of former board member Dr Jeffrey White of the Biology Department), the Redwood Science Project at HSU, and the newest collaboration with the Natural History Museum. Before 2011, WOW was a 70-minute in-school program given on request, as resources allowed, to third- and fourth-grade classrooms throughout the county. The program was loaded with fun activities to enrich the elementary science curriculum: a slide show; hands-on stations examining pond water, bird adaptations, and marsh plants; and a skit where students act out the wastewater treatment process. In spring 2007, WOW served 9 schools, 29 classrooms, and 690 students, plus participated in a Science Night held at Ferndale Elementary, enjoyed by many children and parents. Between 2007 and 2010, the WOW program was inactive.

In 2011, the educational program was rejuvenated, rechristened as Wonders of Wetlands (WOW), and retooled for fifth-graders by board members Mary Burke and Katy Allen in collaboration with Jennifer Ortega, coordinator of education programs at the Natural History Museum. The new WOW has two parts: a 60-minute in-classroom presentation, followed by a 2-hour field trip to the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. The in-classroom presentation offers an introductory PowerPoint presentation, three learning stations, and a whole-group concluding activity. The field trip explores the same topic areas taught during the in-classroom portion of the program: wetland plants, bird adaptions, benefits of a wetland, and wastewater treatment. All content is aligned with the California Science Content standards. A pilot program involving Coastal Grove Charter School, Union Street Charter School, and Freshwater School was facilitated by HSU students in the advanced Environmental Education and Interpretation course taught by Jenn Tarlton. In fall 2012, when the course was offered again, HSU students facilitated the program for students from Pacific Union, Union Street Charter School, and Coastal Grove Charter School.

In spring 2013, the program was offered through the museum, in collaboration with FOAM, with facilitators being museum interns interested in becoming teachers. A 90-minute pre-trip presentation at the museum includes an introductory whole-group activity, four learning stations, and a PowerPoint presentation to review concepts before heading to the Marsh. A 90-minute field trip explores the same four topic areas while students walk the Butcher Slough Loop. Program topics are the same as in 2011. The program was offered to classes from Trillium Charter School and Trinidad School.

In fall 2013, 25 students from HSU's environmental education and interpretation degree program option gave WOW presentations to 5 groups of fifth-graders: 3 from Pacific Union School and 1 each from Coastal Grove Charter and Union Street Charter. The Guy Kuttner Fund paid the cost of busing the Pacific Union students to the Marsh for their field trip.

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Science Fair

Left: Winning entry from 2012. Right: Winning entry from 2010.

In 2006, FOAM initiated a $50 award at the Humboldt County Science Fair for the best project related to wetlands.

The 2006 award went to Pavlina Crowley of Kneeland. Her project examined water quality in various regions of the United States, comparing the extent of contamination in rural and urban sources.

The 2007 winner was Jennie Kaplan-Woodson, an 8th-grader at Sunny Brae Middle School. The purpose of her project, entitled "Baywatch," was to find out what would be the worst petroleum product to fall into Humboldt Bay - "maybe not the worst chemically, but the substance with the farthest spread rate over time and the most difficult to clean up."

The 2008 award went to Piper Bazard, a 5th-grader at Freshwater School. Her project. "Drains to the Bay", examined which areas of the community -- residential, schools, or shopping areas -- have the greatest percentage of permeable and impermeable surfaces.

The 2009 award went to Tanner Doan, a 6th-grader at Blue Lake Elementary School. His project. "Oil Spill," examined which material - rubberizer, polypropylene, diatomaceous earth, human hair, cotton, or sawdust -- will work the best to clean motor oil off the surface of water.

The 2010 award went to Ryan Thomas, a 7th-grader at the Laurel Tree Learning Center of the Mattole Valley Charter School. His project, “Water Quality of Little River, Moonstone Beach, as Reflected in Bacterial Counts,” tested water samples for bacteria, nitrates, and pesticides. He found that the number of coliform and E. coli fluctuated weekly, rising after rainstorms. Although total coliform remained below the state standard, Ryan found levels at the mouth of Little River to be at least triple that of a toilet bowl.

The 2011 first-place award went to Jacob Ireland, a 5th-grader at Arcata Elementary. His project, “Environmental Chemistry: Phytoremediation of Copper by Water Plants,” investigated which aquatic plants would be best at pulling heavy metals like copper out of water, testing elodea , water fern, and micro sword. Jacob got the idea for his project after visiting the Arcata Marsh, wondering if all aquatic plants are able to remove heavy metals and how long it would take them. A second-place award was given to Keaton Sullivan, a student at Garfield School, whose project investigated whether a floating marsh would work as well as a rooted marsh to treat wastewater. The performance measures he used to determine how good a job treatment marshes are doing were dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, and total suspended solids, as well as a “sniff test” and description of water color.

The 2012 award went to Mitchell Monge, an 8th grader from St. Mary’s School in Arcata. His project, “The Effect of Water Salinity on Freshwater Plants,” came about after the Japanese tsunami caused Mitchell to wonder about the effects of seawater on freshwater plants. He changed water from fresh to saline, but saw no effect in the few days that he had available.

The 2013 award went to Alia Issa, an 8th grader at McKinleyville Middle School, with a project entitled “Swimming in Acid.” The purpose of her research was to investigate how rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels affect the calcium carbonate structures of sea animals. Alia conducted six different experiments, each with a different hypothesis concerning pH (acidity), salinity, CO2 absorption, and calcium carbonate dissolution. She concluded that ocean pH would have to drop below 7.5 to have any noticeable impact on calcium carbonate.

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Research Grants

In 2004, FOAM initiated a program to support Humboldt State student research projects related to the Arcata Marsh. The program initially was funded by a bequest from the estate of Sylvia Fisher, on behalf of her late son, Marcus, who enjoyed visiting the Marsh. When the bequest was exhausted in 2011, new funding was provided by a donation from FOAM Life Members Richard Sanborn and Calista Sullivan.

In 2004, Ginger Tennant, a graduate student with Frank Shaughnessy in the Humboldt State Department of Biological Sciences, was awarded $400 to support her study of the role of nutrient limitation in determinating eelgrass shoot density in Humboldt Bay. [Ginger provided the FOAM library with a copy of her master's thesis in spring 2006.]

In 2004, Jesse Conklin and Tia Adams, graduate students with Mark Colwell in the Humboldt Wildlife Department, were awarded $300 for their investigation of winter roost site fidelity by dunlin.

In 2005, Corey Jones was awarded $175 for his project investigating the effects of antibiotic concentrations on nitrogen uptake in duckweed. He is a graduate student advised by Kristine Brenneman in the Humboldt Department of Fisheries Biology's Waterwater Utilization Program.

In 2005, Eric Zielke, an undergraduate in Humboldt's Environmental Resources Engineering Department, received $100 to further his project investigating microbial fuel cell technology using Arcata Marsh water. His adviser is Charles Chamberlin.

[NOTE: An award of $725 given in 2005 was not used when the student left school.]

In 2006/7, Erin Atkin received $750 to support her project investigating genetic variation and dispersal of northern California's coastal river otters. Erin will collect otter scat from six study sites, including the Arcata Marsh, and extract DNA to determine genetic variation. This will provide insight into factors (such as geography) that influence genetic divergence, as well as estimate population size. Her adviser is Brian Arbogast of Humboldt's Department of Biological Sciences.

In 2006/7, Melissa Kreye received $250 to support her project investigating metal accumulation in steelhead reared in reclaimed wastewater. She is a graduate student advised by Kristine Brenneman in the Humboldt Department of Fisheries Biology's Wastewater Utilization Program.

In 2009, Mary Burke received $1275 (with an additional $790 grant in 2010) to support her project to assess the Arcata Marsh for carbon sequestration potential. She plans to assess each component of the wetland as a source or sink of carbon. If the marsh is determined to be a net sink for carbon, it could potentially be registered as a carbon offset project. Her advisor is Robert Gearheart, emeritus professor of Environmental Engineering. Her thesis was completed in 2011, with a copy in the FOAM library.

In 2011, Ted Torgerson received $1155 for travel and supplies to study latrine site selection and habitat use of a coastal river otter population. Also in 2011, Hilary Cosby received $500 for travel and supplies to research diet and activity of river otters, based on seasons and ecosystems. Both are advised by Dr Micaela Szykman Gunther in the HSU Wildlife Department.

In 2013, Kelsey McDonald received a $761 grant to support her study of tidal seed dispersal of Spartina densiflora, an invasive cordgrass. Her adviser is Alison O'Dowd in the HSU Department of Environmental Sciences and Management.

On completion of their studies, recipients are expected to present their findings via a public lecture and to donate a copy of their thesis to the FOAM library.

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Student Bird Art Contest

Left: A wall of winning entries in the 2013 contest. Right: 2013 winners, Grades K through 2.

Since 2004, FOAM has co-sponsored a student bird art contest with Redwood Region Audubon Society. Students in grades K-12 throughout Humboldt County are invited to submit a drawing, painting, collage, or sketch of one of 40 selected birds. Wildlife artists and educators judge the results, with all entries displayed during the Godwit Days festival in April and copies of the winners posted at the interpretive center during May.

As of 2013, over 4,700 pieces of bird art have been submitted and 294 cash prizes (plus 190 honorable mention certificates) awarded. To commemorate the 10th year of the contest, in May 2013, FOAM held a reception to honor the first-, second-, and third-place winners, as well as Best Bird in Habitat awardees. A retrospective of art by students who had won at least 3 times during the first decade of the contest was displayed in October 2013.

Click here for information on submitting artwork in 2013

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Godwit Days

Left: 2013 FOAM nature craft participants show off their bird calls. Right: FOAM informational booth at the Bird Fair.

For many years, FOAM has staffed an information booth, coordinated family nature craft activities, and led wastewater tours at the Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival. In 2004, the Godwit Days organizing committee selected FOAM as its first spotlight organization. "FOAM has supported Godwit Days from the beginning, by offering several tours and family activities during the festival," said Michael Behney of Arcata MainStreet. "This is a chance for our registrants and tour leaders to support FOAM, by earmarking 5 percent of the basic registration fee or donating a portion of their stipend to that organization." FOAM received $785 as the spotlight organization.

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Art Shows

Left: Bird nest art by Louise Bacon-Ogden, August 2013. Right: Marsh sunrise watercolor by Paul Rickard, June 2013.

FOAM has curated monthly art shows at the interpretive center since 1999. This changing exhibit gives visitors something new to see, while showcasing local wildlife and landscape artists and photographers. Sometimes, a reception is held for the artist. Winning entries in the student bird art contest are displayed during May.

The following artists have participated (as of 10/13): Carol Andersen, Jo Anderson, Leslie Anderson, Mike Anderson, Barbara Armstrong, Louise Bacon-Ogden, Art Barab, June Beal, Julia Bednar, Yael Bentovim, Gary Bloomfield, Mary Bobillot, Susan Bornstein, Jay Brown, Suzie Bulger, Peter Canclini, Clarke Historical Museum (Arcata photographs curated by Art Barab), Dorothy Cline, Rachel Coyote, Andrew Daniel, Michael Van Devender, Eureka Photoshop Users Group, Jill Faulkner, Ferndale Art Cooperative, Missy Fiedler, Gigi Floyd, Fortuna Ars Council, Susan Fox, Chris Frolking, Libby George, Shawn Gould, Amy Granfield, Benjamin Green & She'ifa Punla-Green, Pete Haggard, Beverly Harper, Mary Harper, Michael Harris, Sonia Haws, Robert & Martha Haynes, Ralphie Hendrix, Selon Holstein, Humboldt State Scientific Drawing Class, Vaughn Hutchins, Roy Irving, Ken Jarvela, Red Jioras, Alan Justice, Yvonne Kern, Susan Kohl, Mariana Kratiger, Rick Kruse, Ellen Land-Weber, Ron LeValley, Jim Lowry, Marsh Project Participants, Darlene Marlow, Reba Melfa, Marsha Mello, Jan Meninga, Amanita Mollier, Shelly Mortensen, Michelle Murphy-Ferguson, Kathy O'Leary, John Palmer, Linda Parkinson, John Pelafigue, Susan Pence, Cynthia Noble, Jan Ramsey, Leslie Reid, Michelle Remy, Yevonne Reynolds, Paul RIckard, Rich Ridenhour, Patricia Sennott, Campbell Shepard, Greg Smith, Snowy Plover Art Contest Winners, Sara Starr, Valan Stieler, Susan Strope, Student Bird Art Contest Winners, Todd Telander, Marsha Thonson, Coco Thorpe, Gary Todoroff, Bob Tonjes, Lance Torgerson, Bill Twibell, Dana Utman, Bill Van Fleet, Marjorie Van Meter, Jinx Victor, Karen Wehrstein, Jim Welsh, John Wesa, Ann White, William Wood.

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Special Tours, Events, and Lectures

Left: Cake commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Marsh Interpretive Center, May 2013. Right: Tim Clewell points out duck coloration to aspiring artists at Duck Day, February 2013.

In 1998, FOAM launched a series of "Masters Tours" that stretched through 2000. In the lineup were: Dr. George Allen, "Salmon, treated sewage water, and the Arcata Marsh"; Dr. John Hewston, "Fall bird migration through the Marsh"; Dan Hauser, "Political history of the Marsh"; Ron LeValley, "Wildlife photography"; David Couch, "Native oysters"; Cheryl Seidner, "Wiyots"; John Corbett, "How Arcata Marsh changed water quality law"; Dr. Kristine Brennemann, "Fisheries research at the Arcata Marsh Aquaculture Facility;" Bill Pinches, "Woodcarving"; Dr. Robert Gearheart, "Arcata Marsh's past and future"; Dr. Stanley Harris, "Birds of the Marsh."

May 1999 marked the 20-year anniversary of Humboldt County's wastewater victory. FOAM hosted a reunion to honor those individuals whose "creativity, knowledge, dedication, and hard work brought about the Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary and other realistic wastewater solutions." More than 50 people attended the event on May 23, including founding participants Bill Bertain, Bob Gearheart, Dan Hauser, George Allen, Frank Klopp, Roger Storey, Sam Parisi, and John Corbett. Other luminaries were Arcata mayor Bob Ornelas, county supervisor John Wooley, and Margaret Azevedo and Martin Cohen of the California Coastal Conservancy.

In April 2000, FOAM sponsored a "Plant Native Day" celebration with a lecture by Pete Haggard and a walk led by Melinda Bailey.

In October 2000, FOAM board member David Couch led "Canoe the Goo" and "Canoe the Slough" trips. He repeated canoe trips to the native oyster reef in Arcata Bay in July 2004.

In November 2000, Art Barab instituted his annual Thanksgiving morning walk at the AMWS.

In January 2001, "No Name Pond" was dedicated to Dr. Stanley Harris.

In 2001, FOAM changed the name of the Masters Tours to Focus Walks. The lineup included Dr. Sean Craig, "Mudwalk and invertebrate hunt"; Dr. Stanley Harris, "Bird walk"; Pete Haggard, "Butterflies"; David Couch, "Native oysters"; Ron LeValley, "Nature photography"; Gary Bloomfield, "Field sketching techniques."

In 2001, FOAM launched a Monday night lecture series at the interpretive center. Speakers were Dr. Milton Boyd, "Ecology of Humboldt Bay"; Denise Homer, "Full moon walk"; Mary Maloney, "Owls"; Louise Bacon-Ogden, "Bees"; Jennifer Rice, "Potential Humboldt Bay trails"; Dr. Dawn Goley, "Marine mammals"; Dr. Nathan Sanders, "Invasive plants"; Dr. Vanessa Metz, "Water pollution/urban runoff"; Susan McBride, "Humboldt Bay research: fish, eelgrass, and crabs"; Rhonda Wiedenbeck, "AmeriCorps fisheries and educational efforts."

May 2003 marked the 10th anniversary of the interpretive center. A celebration was held on May 21 with a lecture by Dr. George Allen. Key people involved in the creation of the Arcata Marsh led walks throughout the month: Dan Hauser, Frank Klopp, Dr. Stanley Harris, Dr. Robert Gearheart, and David Couch.

In March, 2004, FOAM cosponsored a free public symposium organized by the Humboldt Bay Stewards on the physical and biological processes of Humboldt Bay. Speakers included FOAM board members Dr. Sean Craig and Dr. Frank Shaughnessy, both of the Humboldt State Biology Department.

In winter 2007, the City of Arcata received a NOAA/Nature Conservancy grant to look at colonization, survival, and growth of native oysters at four sites within the City's tidelands jurisdiction. FOAM is a collaborator on the pilot project, along with Humboldt State and California Sea Grant. FOAM's role is to lead monthly education walks that will include a stop to view one of the native oyster sites, one canoe excursion, and one public lecture.

In May 2007, FOAM cosponsored two special walks in recognition of Wetlands Month: a family bilingual bird walk with Redwood Region Audubon Society and an invasive plant walk with the California Native Plant Society.

In January 2009, Jenny Hanson instituted an annual New Year’s Day Ramble around the Marsh.

In September 2009, FOAM Board members Bob Rasmussen and Art Barab conducted a limited-mobility tour of the Marsh, to provide an outdoor experience for those unable to keep up during regular Saturday tours.

In October 2009, in recognition of Coastweeks, FOAM sponsored three free lectures and one public forum. HSU chemistry professor Matt Hurst relayed final results of his study of water samples from the Arcata Marsh and Humboldt Bay; HSU graduate students Teresa Persons and Mary Burke presented on their research at the Marsh; and HSU graduate students Julie and Robert Koeppel and FOAM Board member David Couch provided an update on the native oyster restoration research ongoing at the Marsh. FOAM and the City of Arcata hosted a public forum on the invasive dense-flowered cordgrass, Spartina densiflora.

In October 2010, in recognition of Coastweeks, FOAM sponsored two free lectures and one special tour. HSU chemistry professor Matt Hurst relayed additional results of his study of water samples from the Arcata Marsh and Humboldt Bay; HSU graduate student and FOAM Board member Mary Burke spoke about her research at the Marsh; and City Naturalist Denise Homer led a Night Walk.

In May 2011, FOAM Board member Megan McCue began a series of Arcata Marsh Jogging Interpretive Tours along the 4-5 miles of trails. Some were scheduled for sunset, while others were held in early morning.

In June 2011, FOAM staged free educational activities in conjunction with the Arcata Oyster Festival. A touch tank of sea creatures and several children’s craft activities were on tap at the Interpretive Center.

In June 2011, FOAM cosponsored a Wetlands/Restoration Bike Tour with Green Wheels and the City of Arcata. Environmental Programs manager Julie Neander led an 8-mile bicycle tour of several project areas where the city is working to protect and improve in-stream and riparian habitat, while also bettering flood routing and community beautification.

In August 2011, Alaa Shelbaia from An-Najah National University in Palestine gave a lecture on the environmental and political situation around water resources in Palestine. She had completed a 2-month internship with Dr Gearheart’s research group at the Marsh.

In June 2012, FOAM staged free educational activities in conjunction with Ocean Week. A touch tank of sea creatures and several children’s craft activities were on tap at the Interpretive Center.

In August 2012, FOAM launched a new series of free lectures on topics related to the Marsh, in the hopes of attracting potential volunteers. The schedule through June 2013 was Ken Burton on birds (August), Jerry Rohde on Humboldt Bay history 1850-1950 (September), Milt Boyd on history & ecology (December), Richard Stepp on high fog (January 2013), Lori Dengler on earthquakes & tsunamis (February), Hilary Cosby on otters (March), Betsy Elkinton on brant & eelgrass (April), David Couch on oysters (June), Mike Wallace on salmonids (August), and Mike and Leslie Anderson on photobirding (October).

In December 2012, FOAM organized a Spanish-language tour for the McKinleyville Ecoclub. Students and their parents went on a bird walk, then spent time removing invasive plants. Most of the participants were enrolled in McKinleyville’s Morris Elementary School Spanish immersion program. A beta-test of a bilingual walk was given to second-, fourth-, and fifth-graders from Arcata’s Fuente Nueva charter school in October.

In February 2013, FOAM partnered with Friends of the Dunes to offer a bilingual “I Love Mud” nature exploration event. Some 110 people attended the free session at Klopp Lake to explore mudflats, finger paint, and watch birds. That same month, FOAM cosponsored a Duck Day with the Humboldt State University student chapter of the California Waterfowl Association. Approximately 80 kids ages 5-12 and parents came to the Interpretive Center to participate in free arts and crafts, hands-on educational activities, and duck identification Marsh walks.

On May 30, 2013, FOAM hosted a reception and round-table discussion to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the Marsh Interpretive Center. Nearly 100 people attended to listen to speakers Bob Brown, David Couch, Bob Gearheart, Stan Harris, Dan Hauser, Frank Klopp, and Sam Pennisi, with Alex Stillman moderating.

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Permanent Exhibits at the Interpretive Center and Signs throughout the Marsh

Right: One of the interpretive signs installed in 2013. Left: Close-up of a Gary Bloomfield interpretive panel replaced by FOAM in 2012.

In 2012, a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy with additional funding from FOAM allowed the creation and installation of 4 new interpretive signs around the Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary. FOAM also underwrote a “What’s Your Wingspan (and Handspan)?” sign that is hung on the deck railing of the Interpretive Center and a complete revamping of the Butler Memorial kiosk near Mt. Trashmore that focusing on identifying the 51 most common birds at the Marsh. Four more interpretive signs - on otters, butterflies, history, and estuaries - are slated for installation, as are directional "You Are Here" signs.