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In December 2008 Dry Creek R&S organized a service learning program about the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse for a group of 22 home schoolers at Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge in Newark, CA. We learned about the salt marsh harvest mouse who is smaller than your thumb and lives in dense pickle weed and the marsh habitat, helped to plant native plants at the refuge, and talked about ways that we can help with our everyday actions.
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Our goals were to educate members about frogs and toads. One of the group families brought their Florida tree frogs, Theodore and Roosevelt, and also we had a pet California toad, Kalah, attend. We did a little class on frog and toad conservation, and discussed the project we want to do in the future; raise native tadpoles and release them back into their natural environment. Several members mentioned nearby creeks as where to get tadpoles. Everyone benefited from being informed on how sensitive frog and toad skin is, and how that is a reason why not to wash chemicals such as soap from washing a car, into the water cycle. There was plenty of kid participation.
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Our goal was to help a piece of the environment by doing a cleanup. We went to a trail by Lake Murray and did a trash cleanup. Members of all ages put on their gloves and picked up many varieties of waste. Two members even worked together to get a bocce ball out of a muddy drainage ditch. We also made some nature observations. We saw coyote and raccoon scat, raccoon tracks, and a part of the trail with a monarch overwintering/hang-out spot. There we even found a tagged monarch! Also, our milkweed sprouts had grown leafs.
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Middle Harbor Shoreline Park was built when the Port of Oakland wanted a more convenient place to dump fill from dredging shipping channels. Operated by the East Bay Regional Park District, it is now a place for people and shorebirds to enjoy. Dry Creek R&S spent two afternoons (11/8 and 12/13) with naturalist Tara Reinerston learning about dune plants, helping to restore the dunes, and picking up trash. Many "mule" loads of invasive plants were removed and we planted dune grass on our own "mini-dune".
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On August 10, 2008, we returned to Muir Woods National Monument for more habitat restoration fun on another GGNRA Endangered Species Big Year event. We spent the afternoon removing invasive French Broom from threatened Northern Spotted Owl habitat and were then treated to dinner while listening to Ranger Mia and watching two fledgling northern spotted owls. What a treat!
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The 4th and 5th grade students decided that one ongoing project this year would be to make food for the homeless in our community, Baltimore City. They planned on making 50 lunches for the first event and ended up making 400! The lunches were delivered to a shelter. The children also passed out 50 lunches and hand-made cards on the streets to those we met on our walk to the shelter. Students kicked off the project by planning to make 50 lunches on the National Day of Service, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday. A member for the community association put the event in the local newsletter and it was also listed on the inauguration website. The children studied nutrition and planned a menu they believed was healthy: Meat and Cheese sandwiches on Whole Wheat Bread, Fresh Fruit, Juice or Water, an extra Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich and a snack or dessert. They then used paper food to practice the best ways to organize the lunch making. The kids decided that there would be groups of adults with a student leader who would make a certain number of complete meals. To everyone's surprise there was such an outpouring of community support and volunteers that the students were leading over 100 volunteers in making 400 lunches! The project will be be repeated every month. Volunteers offered email addresses which we will use to remind them of the dates we need more food donations.
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Tomah High School Roots & Shoots held their 5th Annual Holiday Pet Food Drive for the Monroe County Animal Shelter. Over the last four years, we have raised close to 5,000 pounds of pet food for the shelter. This year we were able to collect and donate 1,600 pounds of food to the shelter. In addition to the food raised, six of our senior class members volunteered at the shelter by helping the solitary shelter worker clean, feed, walk and play with the animals at the shelter.
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The 8th grade Science class at Fesler Junior High would like to raise $1000 to donate to the plant a billion trees organization. The plant a billion trees organization needs more funds. We have already sent $86 to plant trees, but they need more money, The project already has the infrastructure set up by Nature Conservancy; what we would like is to be advocates that send more money to the tree planting project in the Atlantic Rainforest. Each dollar plants a tree in the Brazilian Rainforest which has just 7% of its former acreage and this is why it is so important to start replanting the rainforest now. Please make a difference and send $1000 in the name of Fesler Junior High Science to the Nature Conservancy today. If your goals are more determined to help the student community; then still please send the $1000 and we will use it to add to the trees that we will plant around Santa Maria. In December we planted 60 trees in Las Flores, the City of Santa Maria nature center acreage. Many students grew an acorn into an oak seedling and planted it on city land. The cost of a large 3 year old oak tree is $80 with the additional $1,000 in funding we could plant 12 trees to filter the water in our community, raise the level of the water table in the underground reservoirs, sequester CO2, and release life giving oxygen.
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The solar boat is a competition with forty four schools all building a boat that solely runs on solar energy. There are strict rules and points are assigned in all aspects of the boat such as design to speed. The main goals of our project were to win the competition fairly and have good sportsmanship. We learned wide variety of skills from this competition that are all technical in the assembly of the boat. This project is inspiring because it is a friendly competition with the goal of having fun and learning about solar energy and boats.
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The project rethink is a giant mural of bottle caps arranged to say "rethink" so far we have used 30,000 bottle caps in this project. The backing of the entire project is made up of pizza boxes that we collected from the Sally Ride Festival stuck together with paper mache'. The goal of this entire project is to help the people of America "re-think" their ways and reduce, re-use, and recycle. This project idea was thought up by the coach of Team Marine Benjamin Kay. This project is inspiring in how all of the materials used were most likely to be discarded and shipped of to a land fill.

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