Monday, October 7, 2013

Environmental Writing

I wonder what this scene would look like without the french broom, hemlock, and thistle? Would more water fill this vernal pool? Would this willow change from a tree to a thicket? What plants would fill this space in their stead? And how dense would they grow? What would the animals lose or gain from their removal? Would the spotted towhee lose a place of shelter and refuge? Would the oaks have room to breath and grow mighty? How did we allow this place to change? These conditions to be? - Michael Mees

Monday, September 30, 2013


23 September 2013 Violet Henderson-Green Outside the Self Reliant House
After wondering around for five or so moments trying to figure out where I wanted to take a seat and begin writing, I looked up and down the hill reading the signs and taking in the sights until I turned around and spotted a sign that read “Edible Garden” This is a cool space. Shady, and quiet. I hear the chirping of the birds and I see the scattering of little brow striped spiders as they seam to be investigating why on earth did I choose this spot to plant my butt down and write. I guess it was the color purple that drew me in along with the green leaves. The color combination always reminds me of a natural wonder of God’s perfect color combination. It also makes me think about my name and how two of the most beloved men in my life named me. When I was born my dad named me Violet and when I got married I became Mrs. Green. I wonder what other natural colorful name combinations there are in the world? How about Heather Blue, Grey Brown, Poppy Red or Golden Tan? Or why people always seem to take on the characteristic of their names? When we area not on one accord with nature either we change or the world around us changes. To evolve into something totally different and perfect once again.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

TREE TO SEA; A BAY AREA CROSS SECTION - Spring 2013 Syllabus ENVMT 40 (3 Units) Code 22958

Self-Reliant House (SRH)
Instructor Robin Freeman 510-434-3840 (o) 510-915-1452 (cell),  and/or


NOTE: The field locations may change.  Maps and directions will be given  at the class meeting before and by email.  CHECK BEFOREHAND!!

Monday, 4/1: 6:30 – 9:20 Environmental Center (SRH): Introductions,
Brief Field walk, Purpose and methods of the course. Responsible Ecotourism; viewing and visioning a cultural landscape.  Green Infrastructure and the San Leandro Creek Greenway proposal powerpoint and the Upper Watershed.  Gaps, Connecting the Dots and Strategies for Community involvement. Call for scouts. Continued next week.

Sunday, 4/7: 10am Meet at Lake Chabot Park in front of gates by path up to the Dam  (Looking at the creek below the dam)
Bring Lunch, Water, Dress For The Weather (Showers?),Camera (If You Have One), Day Pack

9:30 SRH/Merritt If you need a ride and/or are giving one.
Merritt College to Chabot Park From Campus Drive      
Turn left onto Redwood Road
Turn left onto Mountain Blvd unmarked at bottom of hill below church and across from shopping mall
Take the 1st right onto Carson St Under Freeway (signs for State Hwy 13 N)
Turn left to merge onto CA-13 S/STATE HWY 13 S past 98th and 106th TOWARD HAYWARD to 580 4ish miles past to DUTTON AVE/ESTUDILLO (see below for directions to the park)

DUTTON AVE/ESTUDILLO go along frontage/McArthrur to ESTUDILLO LEFT UNDER FREEWAY  Uphill from the freeway, Estudillo splits left off Lake Chabot Rd. at the brown EB Parks Lake Chabot sign
BEAR LEFT ON ESTUDILLO a short distance through houses BEAR RIGHT at Not a Through Street sign (Sylvan) which takes you directly across a bridge into CHABOT PARK.  Park where you can. Restrooms

Afternoon – scout bike route in San Leandro TBA

Monday, 4/8: 6:30 – 9:20 (Sunset 7:40) LION CREEK EVENING HIKE
Meet at SRH Environmental Center Studying the maps . Landscape and land use observations

Sunday, 4/14: 9:30 am meet at Merritt/ Car shuttle to 10am  Lake Chabot Park. Walk to Bort Meadows and Equestrian Center 6 miles minor elevation change, then 200’ climb at the end. Grass Valley Creek, Anthony Chabot Park. West side upper watershed

Saturday, 4/20:  Earth Day Bike Tour, BBQ and optional volunteer work day.
12:30 PM BBQ & Watershed Festival.  Free BBQ for all Earth Day participants! Across from 678 Cary Dr. - lot behind Bancroft Middle School. Park on Bancroft (by Haas Ave. Bridge) and walk in
1:30 PM BICYCLE RIDE  MEET @ Cary Dr BBQ (above) Near S. Leandro BART

Optional volunteer work sites
9:30 AM – 12:00 PM Creek Clean Up Meet at the Starbucks (185 98th Ave. in Oakland)
10:00 AM– 12:00 PM Cobb Bench Maintenance at Madison Middle School in Oakland. Meet on 105th Ave behind the Community Reformed Church at 457 Capistrano Dr., 94603
9:30-11:00 AM Creek Clean Up  Root Park E 14th at Hays St. San Leandro

Sunday, 4/28: Tidewater Center MLK Shoreline San Leandro Creek Canoe Trip low tide 12pm high tide 4:30 TBA

Monday, 4/29: 6:30 – 9:20 Review Field notes, update field trip sites

Sunday, 5/5: Parkridge Dr. Anthony Chabot to Valle Vista Staging Area San Leandro Creek Upper Watershed

Saturday, 5/18: Valle Vista Staging Area to Rancho Laguna Park

Sunday, 5/19: San Leandro Creek Upper Watershed Southeast area TBA

Monday, 5/20: 6:30  SRH Assemble photography and field observations

GRADING: This course may be taken for a letter grade or credit/non-credit (audit).  If taken for a letter grade, this course satisfies requirements for several ENVMT majors. For Credit only; 80% class attendance is required. For a letter grade attendance, participation, and assignments are required. For non-credit you may choose your level of participation. 
ASSIGNMENTS: Most of the work is done in the field where we will record data. The optional text is the East Bay Watershed Center CD which contains the Intertidal Directory  and the Feasibility Guide.  Review these, especially the “Sample Flowchart” in the beginning of the Intertidal Directory and the “Summary”, “Study Uses” and “Goals (focusing on Stakeholders)” in the  Feasibility Guide.  Our responsible ecotourism assignment will be to 1) research and coordinate with local creek stakeholders towards supporting their goals where possible, and 2) enter the data we gather, including photos, in the East Bay Watershed Directory format, or a format for stakeholder use to be determined. You may also choose to help scout hike routes.
FIELD DAY INFORMATION: Each trip will have its own information sheets which will be handed out either the Monday before or the morning of the trip. NOT ALL FIELD DAYS MEET AT THE SAME PLACE. Make sure you contact the instructor beforehand if you do not have the meeting information.  In all cases bring a day pack with your lunch, water, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, hiking shoes or boots with lugs (ie not smooth soles except for on board the boats) camera (optional), any medication you may need, snacks, long pants and sleeves as needed and appropriate clothing for the weather conditions including rain. The hikes are moderate to light and usually not more than 5 miles.  We will carpool between the start and ending sites. Some days we will be driving between several sites. R. Freeman’s emergency cell phone 510-915-1452
80% Attendance or as agreed
Photographs and/or field observations & help assemble them
Scouting or trip directions
70% Attendance or as agreed
Photographs and/or field observations
Scouting or trip directions
60% Attendance or as agreed
Photographs and/or field observations

50% Attendance or as agreed
F – suggest you withdraw

Student Learning Objectives
1. 1. 1. . Identify and describe basic landforms , plant community types, and aquatic system types

2. Identify and describe basic land uses related to sustainability

3. Describe and evaluate the health or sustainable characteristics of a land use system.

4. Discuss and document a land use, restoration or design project with local community members.

Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities who wish to receive services and/or accommodations are asked to submit a form from the Disability Services Program (DSP). Receiving services and accommodations will not adversely affect your grade. This information will be kept confidential (FERPA). Please meet with me in private as early in the semester as possible to discuss your learning needs. If you think that you could benefit from the services offered by DSP, please contact a counselor in R-109, 510-436-2429, or go to our College website for more information:, click on "Student Services," and then click on "Disability Services Program."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Thursdays 6:30-9:20PM @ Self Reliant House, Saturdays; Sundays (see field instructions available before each trip)
Team Contact: Robin Freeman M.A., 434-3840, 510-915-1452 cell  Call or email Robin for office hrs @ SRH.
Nancy Ceridwyn, MS, MEd., 415-640-4270,
This course is an overview of nature/culture interpretation and education including  planning for age-, theme- and place-appropriate presentations for diverse audiences and settings; survey of park management, planning and community relations.Content will include resources and employment opportunities in the environmental management field.

Beck, Larry, and Cable, Ted
Interpretation for the 21st Century: Fifteen Guiding Principles for Interpreting Nature and Culture, 2nd edition
Sagamore Books

1)     Thursday 2/7.  Introduction
Instructors: Robin Freeman & Nancy Ceridwyn
Introduction to the Course; Brief introductions of class participants and professional interests; Discussion about grades, attendance, mini-internships, journals and presentations either oral or written.
Trail experience: Tour of Environmental Center and Hilton Trail 
ASSIGNMENT: Please begin a class journal and begin with one of two questions: How is the natural world part of our community culture or is it? OR What stuck with you about the evening walk? Text: Purchase. Handout: Syllabus. Bring flashlights, umbrellas for next week.

2)     Thursday 2/14.  Defining the Profession.
Instructors: Robin Freeman & Nancy Ceridwyn
History of the profession, How do we define the jobs of ranger, naturalist, environmental educator as professions and in what arenas do each work? 
Trail experience: Leona Canyon and/or Hilton Trail.
ASSIGNMENT: Write directions to a local park. Text Reading: Intro, 1, 3, 4, 7,15
Begin to think about mini-internship sites.

3)     Sunday 2/17.  Elements of Interpretation: Cultural Interpretation.
Eugene O’Neill’s Tao House, National Park Service Historic Site.
NPS staff with Robin Freeman and Nancy Ceridwyn
Presentation and planning for interpretation of cultural and historic sites.
Meet at Merritt College at 9:00 am and drive to Danville where we will board the Park Service van as a group.  Bring lunch, water and hiking gear.
ASSIGNMENT: Make a rough first draft of the types of mini-internship sites which interest you. Due Thurs 2/21

4)  Thursday 2/21.  Engaging Environmental Education: New Techniques for Learning
Lynn Barakos and Ken Beals-Lawrence Hall of Science, Better Environmental Education Teaching, Learning, Expertise and Sharing (BEETLES)
Innovative, practical strategies for making outdoor science experience more learner-and discussion-centered.
Way Finding- Preparing for the Experience
Instructor: Nancy Ceridwyn/ Robin Freeman
The importance of thorough directions.
ASSIGNMENT: Text: Reading: Chapters 2, 8, 12,13  Handout: Directions to Big Break Visitor Center DUE: Mini-Internship draft list. Begin arranging your site. You may ask Robin or Nancy for help.  These often take time to arrange.

4)     Saturday 2/23. 10:00 - 1:00  Elements of Interpretation
Kevin Damstra, Naturalist, East Bay Regional Park District with Robin Freeman and Nancy Ceridwyn
Meet at Merritt College at 9:00 am or meet the group at Big Break Visitors Center @ 10:00 am.
What is interpretation and why do we interpret? Explore the difference between interpretation and information, techniques, styles, and methods.
Bring lunch and outdoor clothing
Trail experience: Big Break, Antioch
ASSIGNMENT: Journal notes on your impressions of Big Break, developing your style of interpretation and your thoughts on the presentation content.

6)  Thursday 2/28.  Organizing Volunteer Programs and First Aid for Participants
Instructor: Robin Freeman 
Megan Hess Lilla- Volunteerism and Friends of Sausal Creek
Kate Freeman: Safety and First Aid
Discuss Journal assignment
ASSIGNMENT: Reading Text : 6

7) Thursday 3/7.  Who Is the Audience?  From Pre-school to Older Adults.
Instructor: Nancy Ceridwyn    Making programs appropriate for various ages, physical and mental abilities. Matching the program to the learning styles
ASSIGNMENT: Reading Text: Chapters 9, 10.  Journal: What audiences do you feel most comfortable with and why? 

8)  Thursday 3/14.  Teaching without Talking: Outdoor Activities; and Coordinating with Large Park Organizations
Bob Flasher, Golden Gate Park Conservancy with Robin Freeman
Interactive outdoor games and interpretive activities make nature more accessible supplemented with great ranger in-the-field stories.
ASSIGNMENT: Reading Text: Chapters 11, Handout: Directions to Crab Cove

9) Thursday 3/21.Environmental Writing for Brochures and Panels
Michael Charnofsky Naturalist, East Bay Regional Parks,Robin Freeman
Meet at Crab Cove Visitors Center, Alameda 6:30. 
NOTE: Brief proposal of interpretive text and activity, or walk/talk ideas/questions/lousy first draft due April 4
Reminder: Mini-internships will be due in less than a month
ASSIGNMENT: Reading Text: Principles 14. Journal: What were your impressions of Crab Cove Visitor Center?  When has the non-personal interpretation been most useful for you?  When is it less useful? Handout: Directions to Anthony Chabot Eagle Campground

**Spring Break – 3/25-3/29

10) Thursday 4/4.  Park Management 
Host: Janet Gomes, Supervising Ranger, East Bay Regional Parks with Jim O’Conner, Assistant Operations Manager EBRPD, Eric Folmer, TreeWolf Tree Service and former EBRPD Ranger Union President and Robin Freeman
Meet at Merritt at 6:30pm and drive to Anthony Chabot Eagle Campground
The panel will discuss changing views of park maintenance, preservation and community interaction.
ASSIGNMENT: Brief proposal of interpretive text and activity, or walk/talk ideas/questions/lousy first draft due .
Research resources for planning an interpretive presentation; Due April 18.

11)  Thursday 4/11. Experienceology and Story telling
Instructor: Nancy Ceridwyn
Examine 8 steps to a better visitor experiences at your site.  Stories to make your program come alive.
ASSIGNMENT: Journal: What was your best and worst Park or Museum experience? Why?  Handout: Directions to Sunol Regional Park

12)  *Saturday 4/13. Interpretive Plans that Work with Park Activities
Instructor: Nancy Ceridwyn, Katie Colbert, Naturalist, East Bay Regional Wildrness
Meet at 9:00 in the Merritt parking lot and drive to Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness near Pleasanton or at 10 am at the Sunol Green Barn Visitors Center
Interpretive plans connect the themes of a park with park programs.  Participate in two programs generated from Sunol’s interpretive plans. 
ASSIGNMENT: Prepare for April 18 Presentation

13)  Thursday 4/18.  Class Presentations – potluck. Present walk/talk/brochure and comment on each
ASSIGNMENT: Prepare interpretive activities for volunteer program on Saturday
Class members organize the event

14)       Saturday 4/20. Class Volunteer Coordination in Action
Instructor: Robin Freeman
Class members coordinate volunteers for projects and interpretation of San Leandro Creek.

GRADES: For a letter grade (required for Certificate/Degree), reasonable attendance, class participation, and completion of assignments will be used by students to suggest your own grade and evaluate the course.  If the course is taken for Credit/non credit only, participation is required for this option. 

Mini-Internships consist of 5-8 hours volunteering at a park, nature center, camp, outdoor class, volunteer environment clean-up or other venues where interpretation, parks management/maintenance or outdoor/environmental education takes place.  Reporting back verbally to the class or in writing include the name of your intern site, the leader who worked with you, date and times and your impressions if what was most useful to you and what was least useful.

Presentations may be an interpretation,  an environmental education activity of about 10 minutes, a site management activity or plan, or a volunteer activity (on Earthday)  or  designing and writing a brochure or interpretation panel. 

Grading Rubric

80% Attendance or as agreed
Mini-internship: 5-8 hrs,; report back verbally or in writing
Presentation: oral or written

Internship or Presentation
 Internship or Presentation
F – suggest you withdraw

Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities who wish to receive services and/or accommodations are asked to submit a form from the Disability Services Program (DSP). Receiving services and accommodations will not adversely affect your grade. This information will be kept confidential (FERPA). Please meet with me in private as early in the semester as possible to discuss your learning needs. If you think that you could benefit from the services offered by DSP, please contact a counselor in R-109, 510-436-2429, or go to our College website for more information:, click on "Student Services," and then click on "Disability Services Program."