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Our goal was to help someone else by making a KIVA loan. Eco Apes members gathered together on December 15th and found out that they had earned enough money for a KIVA loan by redeeming CA redemption value recyclables! Also there were 3 guests visiting who participated in the meeting. We voted on the Sector and Region, and ended up with Agriculture and South America. Then we gathered around the computer and decided who we would give a KIVA loan. We actually had quite a hard time picking somebody out, because someone wanted to buy pesticides with a KIVA loan, and many other individuals and groups on the KIVA website were breeding animals for food (We have vegetarians in the group). We finally decided on a woman named Silvia who wants to hire workers to work in the family orchard. We played a game like Duck, Duck, Goose, except instead it was Pollution, Pollution, Make up a solution. Members had to make up something to help the environment, such as eating instead of farmed fish, wild-caught salmon, or reusing paper to wrap presents. Members also had the opportunity to make bookmarks out of recycled cereal box cardboard.
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The Golden Gate National Recreation Area Endangered Species Big Year 2008 was a race against time to see and help save the 33 endangered species found within the boundaries of the GGNRA. It was a wonderful way to learn about, help to make a difference for, and meet many people who care deeply about the flora and fauna in the San Francisco Bay area. Over 2000 people participated in Big Year events with about 250 logging their sightings and action items. Dry Creek R&S completed 24 of the 66 items putting us in 4th place on the leaderboard. Many of those sightings and action items have been described in other Dry Creek R&S project reports. Not only did we complete the items but we often returned to enjoy an experience again, enlisted help from other families to make a bigger difference, and have since started an on-going homeschool restoration program at one of the places we discovered through Big Year. So it was with mixed feelings that we attended the closing ceremony to celebrate the wonderful Big Year 2008 and to have another chance to spot the Western Snowy Plover. For having three generations of our family at a large number of Big Year events throughout the year Dry Creek R&S received an award for "Best Multi-Generational Commitment to Big Year" that included a subscription to the magazine "Bay Nature" and membership in the supporting organizations of Big Year - what a great way to be able to stay connected and find more fun projects to be involved with. We're also very much looking forward to a potential GGNRA Big Year 2010.
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Mr. Goodman and his students in Class 4-438 researched National Geographic and decided to hold a fundraiser in order to support the initiative of caring for wildlife and the environment. The children handmade lanyard key chains and held a fundraiser for the members of the school community. Prior to the event, posters and commercials were done to advertise such a wonderful event.
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The Hole in the Wall Camp is worldwide and was developed by Paul Newman. The Camp provides children who are terminally ill with two weeks of free camp experiences at various sites. Class 3-345 researched and selected Hole in the Wall Camp as their focus for their charitable initiative. Ms. Vogel and Class 3-345 made bookmarks in order to sell them to the school community. This was a wonderful worthwhile event.
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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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