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In our initial brainstorming session this year, the children wanted to learn how to help and protect wildlife from getting hurt. They also wanted to feed them and provide bedding/shelter for them. So, this meeting focused on how to invite wildlife into our backyards. We listed all the types of wildlife we see at home (birds, deer, skunks, etc.) and then made a list of how to invite them in (birdhouses, fruit trees, old trees/branches, water, etc.). We then looked at a well-used (though currently vacant!) birdhouse to see what kind of nest the wrens had made and why they liked the birdhouse (size, type). The children then worked at one of three stations: (1) making a drinking source for birds out of plastic plant saucers and twigs, (2) making small bags of nesting material for birds to gather from, (3) making prayer flags for our church's Earth Day service (a spiritual invitation!)
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In Fall 2007 our family was given permission by the East Bay Park District to gather California Buckeye seeds in Dry Creek Regional Park. We gathered the buckeye seeds and then planted them in pots resulting in over 50 buckeye seedlings in our backyard this spring. We transported half of them to the greenhouse in Coyote Hills Regional Park on March 17, 2008, and are taking care of the rest in our backyard until Fall 2008 when we will help plant them in various East Bay Regional Parks.
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On January 11, 2008, we participated in a habitat restoration program at Mori Point in Pacifica, CA, as part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area's 2008 Endangered Species Big Year. We were joined by Supraja Dharini (Chennai Roots & Shoots) and her family and spent the morning planting around a pond built for the threatened red-legged frog, the favorite meal of the very endangered San Francisco garter snake. We also participated in a clean up of a runoff area where some of the red-legged frogs congregate. Afterwards we scheduled a service learning program and returned on March 6, 2008, with a group of homeschoolers. We were thrilled to learn that a San Francisco garter snake had recently been seen near the pond that we had helped to plant in January! We also participated in a thank you celebration and planting workday on April 26, 2008, and plan to continue helping at Mori Point in the future.
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The Community Committee for International Students at Stanford University is a volunteer organization that supports international graduate students, visiting scholars and their families at Stanford University. We have begun to participate in their programs, which give internationals a chance to interact with and be welcomed by American families. On November 10, 2007, we met Maria M. Medina-Martinez, a graduate student from Spain who is currently studying at Stanford University. We shared one of our favorite places, Coyote Hills Regional Park, with her and enjoyed going for a hike, playing frisbee and chatting. We hope our schedules will allow us to get together again soon.
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On April 19, 2008, we participated in a habitat restoration program at Milagra Ridge in Pacifica, CA, as part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area's 2008 Endangered Species Big Year. We spent the morning removing Monterey Pine and invasive Scotch Broom from endangered Mission Blue Butterfly habitat.
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This spring we have enjoyed participating in three habitat restoration programs in the East Bay Regional Parks with Doc Quack's Wildlife Volunteers. On March 8, 2008, we participated in the Forest of the Future program, fertilizing juvenile oak trees. On May 22, 2008, we helped with the Riparian Re-leaf program, removing protective weed cloth and plastic buckets from snowberry plants that had been planted along a 3,500 foot stretch of stream that has in-stream plunge pools designed for the threatened California red-legged frog. On April 17, 2008, we participated in the It's Your Tern program, helping to create nesting habitat for the endangered California least tern which was soon due to arrive for the breeding season. We plan to participate in more Doc Quack programs in the future.
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In Fall 2006 we instigated an on-going restoration program (a.k.a. Tule Time) for homeschoolers with Dino Labiste, a naturalist from Coyote Hills Regional Park. Tule Time activities have included digging up tule rhizomes for propagation, planting tule and willow, and removing cattails at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, CA. Joining us for Tule Time activities is a varying group of 10-30 homeschoolers which we help organize. We try to meet once a month and so far have spent 10 afternoons on Tule Time projects.
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I remember feeling a bit isolated and lost as to what direction we were headed when we first joined Roots & Shoots as a family group. Over the past few years we have come to greatly appreciate and begin to utilize the resources and networking available through Roots & Shoots. When we heard of a new Roots & Shoots group for homeschoolers starting up nearby we were excited at the prospect of meeting other Roots & Shoots families, planning some joint service projects, and sharing what we have learned about Roots & Shoots. We were able to join in on the first meeting of Sequoia Roots & Shoots and the Sequoia R&S group leader and her family recently joined us for one of our Tule Time projects. It's definitely a two-way exchange and we look forward to continuing to share resources and working together in the future.
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On March 20, 2008, we participated in a habitat restoration program at Muir Woods National Monument as part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area's 2008 Endangered Species Big Year. We spent the afternoon removing invasive French Broom from threatened Northern Spotted Owl habitat and even heard a Northern Spotted Owl that evening!
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The Bourgade Catholic High School Chapter of Roots & Shoots planted an Arizona Ash tree on Friday, May 2, 2008. A tree planting ceremony with prayers, blessings, and the symbolic throwing of dirt was led by the club's moderator, Colleen Gish. The 15 gallon Arizona Ash was donated by Mr. Inzunza, the father of a Roots & Shoots member. The tree was planted near the recycling bins on our school's campus - and isn't that an appropriate place?!

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