Tejon RancH Conservancy eNews April 2019

On the Ranch

By Education Coordinator Paula Harvey

Sequoia Riverlands Trust students walk along the road at White Wolf.

On a recent field trip, I asked students to stand or sit alone in one spot for 10 minutes, with nothing in their hands, using their senses to experience the area—being absolutely silent. Afterwards, they were given another 10 minutes to write their thoughts about the experience in their nature journals.

We came back together, then I told them to find a spot to sit and write a poem. One young man looked askance at me and said in a challenging voice, “A POEM?” as if horrified at the idea. I gave him my very best, tried-and-tested “teacher look” and said, “Yes, is that a problem?” He reluctantly sat down under a large blue oak.

...they get excited, tap into their curiosity, make discoveries, realize their creativity, find their empathy, and connect with their environment...
Spending time reflecting and journaling.

When they were done, the students shared their poems with friends. I asked if anyone wanted to share to the whole group. Several volunteered and were so very proud of their work.

I was, once again, reminded of why I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my job as an environmental educator. I have the privilege of guiding them as they get excited, tap into their curiosity, make discoveries, realize their creativity, find their empathy, and connect with their environment.

That was the last activity of the day and we started walking back to the main road. The reluctant young man came up to me and asked if he could read his poem. After he did, he smiled proudly and said, “That is the best thing I have ever written! I think I want to write more poetry.”

Tejon Ranch Conservancy’s Education Program offers field trips and customized programs for high school and college faculty, and students. Students get to experience a unique opportunity when they come out on the Ranch and learn. Their enthusiasm is contagious. Their frequent complaint? Not enough time; they want to stay longer.

A student explores bryophytes on a rock during a journaling exercise.

For me, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing students get excited and inspired as they experience the protected wild lands of Tejon Ranch, then realize and embrace the responsibility of being the stewards of this planet. And it starts with bringing students and teachers outside, to learn, to consider the possibilities, to experience wild places.

Sequoia Riverlands Trust students and staff

If you believe, as we do, that outdoor education develops a deeper sense of learning about and appreciation for the natural world as it relates to everyday subjects, then please help us bring more students here.

Paula Harvey

Education Coordinator

Photo by Laura Pavliscak


By Scot Pipkin

Manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.), with its peeling red bark and intricate patterned branches, is both striking and sturdy. The fruits are often bright red and apple-shaped, thus the common name "manzanita" meaning "little apple." Anyone throughout the West who has tried bushwhacking in manzanita country has certainly developed a healthy respect for the plant’s toughness.

Leaves and nascent buds of three different manzanita species.

Like many other taxonomic groups, California boasts an incredible diversity of manzanita species. Of an estimated 109 species worldwide (Encyclopedia of Earth), California is home to about 62, plus many subspecies.

Certain species prefer sandy soils.

Five (potentially six) different manzanitas live on Tejon Ranch, including: Eastwood manzanita (A. glandulosa); big berry manzanita (A. glauca); Parry manzanita (A. parryana); and sticky whiteleaf manzanita (A. viscida).

Chaparral habitat on the east-facing slopes of Bronco Canyon. Manzanitas are one of the common types of shrub in chaparral, which is the most expansive vegetation type in California.

Four years ago, with the help of Dr. Brandon Pratt from California State University, Bakersfield, Dr. Tom Parker of San Francisco State University, and Dr. Jon Keeley of the United States Geological Survey, the Conservancy identified two subspecies, and possibly a third, of A. glandulosa on the Ranch.

Species of the genus Arctostaphylos live life on the margins. From the polar and alpine regions to the extremely dry mountains of North America’s deserts, manzanitas are hearty survivors. They are some of the most drought-tolerant species on record.

Big berry manzanita is an example of a "seeder."

Here in California, fire is a major influence on species morphology and ecology, in addition to the arid climate conditions. Hence, many species are "pyrophytes," meaning that they depend on fire for their life processes. The "seeder" variety of pyrophyte only germinates after a fire event. In certain cases, the seeds can lie dormant for decades until the heat or chemical changes of a fire activate germination. The “sprouter” variety of pyrophyte has a dense root ball that sprouts new growth after a fire has burned away the above-ground shoots.

A "sprouter" variety with a root ball at its base.

A great deal of work has been done to better understand the ecological and evolutionary implications of these two strategies, which are quite fascinating.


Calflora. "Arctostaphylos" 2 December, 2015


Hogan, Michael C. "Arctostaphylos" 2 December, 2015


Keeley, Jon E. and Zedler, Paul H. "Reproduction of Chaparral Shrubs After Fire: A Comparison of Sprouting and Seeding Strategies" American Midland Naturalist 99, no. 1 (1978): 142-161

Keeley, Jon E. and Keeley, Sterling C. "Energy Allocation Patterns of a Sprouting and a Nonsprouting Species of Arctostaphylos in the California Chaparral." American Midland Naturalist, no. 1 (1977): 1-10

Parker, Thomas V. "Diversity and Evolution of Arctostaphylos and Ceanothus." Fremontia 35, no. 4 (2007): 8-11

Monolopia lanceolata - Photo by Laura Pavliscak

the power of focus

Science Journaling Workshop for Educators

Story and Photos by Paula Harvey

Artist, naturalist, and educator, Jack “John Muir” Laws conducted a two-day professional development training in March in science journaling that ties in with the Next Generation Science Standards. Nearly one hundred California educators gathered on the Tejon Ranch and enjoyed the magnificent beauty of Campo Bonito in the San Joaquin Valley.

Nature/science journaling enhances the student’s ability to observe and study the natural world. While developing their drawing and writing skills, students engage in pure scientific discovery.

The Conservancy worked with Kristen Urquidez of Kern High School District, who organized to send 49 district teachers, while California State University, Bakersfield’s Department of Teacher Education sent teacher candidates who are currently participating in the Kern Rural Teacher Residency Program.

The workshop was not only a relaxing experience, but inspiring as well. Ultimately, I really enjoyed the “I notice, I wonder, it reminds me of” way to promote student thinking and observational strategies. In general, the workshop inspired me to take time to “smell the flowers” and show my students to do that as well. Observation is more than snapping a picture of the object; this is a very important concept for students in this generation.
Chelsea Lancaster, Kern High School District

Environmental educators from a variety of regional organizations, including Wind Wolves and Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, also joined the workshop. Jack Laws inspired teachers and prepared them to share their new knowledge with their colleagues and students.

I think this was one of the most incredible trainings I have attended ever. …At the end of the day, I wrote in my journal a few questions. How many people pass by this beauty and not even give it a thought? Why do we not take more time in our own lives to do this for ourselves? How was I so very blessed to experience this and how can I possibly do it again? How did God manage to make so much beauty? …I looked back at myself, I was so scared to do this activity, I literally turned my book to the back, upside down, so it looked like I was using it correctly and did my work in the back of the book so the front would stay nice for my daughter to use someday because she is better at drawing and journaling. Now I can show this to my students and show them my insecurities and that they are not alone when they have insecurities of their own. Amazing! Wonderful! An absolute Do Again experience!
Sherrie Hill, Kern High School District

This program and other education-related programs are developed by Tejon Ranch Conservancy’s Education Coordinator Paula Harvey. Paula may be reached at (661) 248-2400, extension 102, or by email at pharvey@tejonconservancy.org.


Closing in on the Goal

Most people choose to give out of the goodness of their hearts. Though we say it’s for “education,” it’s not easy to know what that really means. Last year, 25-year-old Hannah Savage was working on a biology degree at California State University, Bakersfield, when she applied for a summer internship with the Tejon Ranch Conservancy.

Hannah Savage in Lower Tejon Canyon.

We’ll let Hannah tell you in her own words what it means when you give.

Hannah working with invasive species.

“Last summer I had the opportunity to intern with the Tejon Ranch Conservancy. My internship was incredibly valuable. It gave me hands-on experience. It introduced me to other biologists. It encouraged me to pursue my master’s degree.

"I am completing my bachelor’s degree in biology right now. Despite being almost done with my degree, I have had very little experience outside the classroom. This internship gave me much needed experience. I was able to put into practice many of the things I had learned over the course of my degree.

"It also gave me the opportunity to meet other biologists. This was valuable because prior to the internship I knew very few people in the field of biology. It’s hard to see yourself as a biologist when you don’t know anyone already doing it. Now, having met and worked with other biologists, I can actually see myself as one.

"The internship gave me some ideas about what careers I could pursue in the future. It is also the reason I am in the process of applying to graduate schools.

I am so incredibly thankful that I was able to intern with the Conservancy. I learned so much, met so many wonderful people, had many opportunities to enjoy beautiful California, and acquired direction for my future.”

There are so many more Hannahs out there, just waiting for practical, real-world experience. In addition to summer internships, we invite teaching staff from local high schools and colleges to learn how to use the out-of-doors to enhance learning and curriculum. These teachers have the opportunity to make learning far more experiential with even greater retention.

We are SO close to meeting our grant challenge. With recent pledges we are nearly there—less than $4,000 to go by April 15th. Even a small contribution will make a big difference now. Please help us make that difference!

Background photos: Teachers on Tejon Ranch

Photo by Reema Hammad

video: Coyotes at play

The highly adaptable coyote (Canis latrans) may be found in the wild and even in urban settings. Preferring a diet of meat, the coyote also consumes invertebrates, fruit, and vegetables occasionally. In this wildlife video on the Tejon Ranch, we find this diminutive and distant relative of the wolf in its natural habitat...playing!

Photo by Laura Pavliscak

Public Notice

The Tejon Ranch Conservancy has been an accredited land trust of the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) for the last five years and is in the process of applying for re-accreditation. The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. A public comment period is now open.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs. According to Conservancy Director of Operations Tim Bulone, accreditation is the gold standard that lets the public, our donors, and governmental agencies know we care about the lands entrusted to us to protect and steward.

The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how Tejon Ranch Conservancy complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the full list of standards see http://www.landtrustaccreditation.org/help-and-resources/indicator-practices.

To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org, or email your comment to info@landtrustaccreditation.org. Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

Comments on Tejon Ranch Conservancy’s application will be most useful by June 30, 2019.

Photo by Laura Pavliscak

Click here to support the Tejon Ranch Conservancy


(661) 248-2400


Thank you!

Tejon Ranch Conservancy E-News produced by co-editors Tim Bulone and Susan Chaney. If you'd like to contribute to E-News please let us know.

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