One Conversation at a Time

By Stephanie Gonzalez, Environmental Educator

Connection starts with one conversation at a time; going to community outreach events helps us forge relationships and have a positive impact with our community. Over the last several months, Pepperwood has been out in the community with events such as the North Bay Discovery Day, Into the Wild at the Schulz Museum, and several career fairs at local highschools. 

For Pepperwood, tabling at events like these gives us a chance to connect with new community members and establish a community presence. During tabling events we come across those that have visited Pepperwood but many have not. Some people have never heard about us at all! The next time they might want to learn about lichen or bears or our fire-dependent landscape, or if they just want to explore a pond, they could think of coming to visit us on our year-round community education classes that we offer in English and Spanish. 

For me, the real impact of community events comes from making Pepperwood more accessible to our community. Not everyone has the time in their work schedule or access to a car to come up to Pepperwood on the weekends. Going to community events tackles these barriers and allows people to get to know Pepperwood so that the learning we want to take place continues. I believe that the more children we can inspire to be curious about nature, and the more teens and adults that can access nature and science, the better off our community will be.

Those of all ages who visit our table, get to connect with our land without needing to be at Pepperwood, will find many reasons to jump with excitement: we bring real life insects to hold, microscopes to magnify a tick to the point you can see its mouthparts, a coyote’s fur to pet, and real snake skin to touch. The experience does not stop there, we also bring our magazines, so our community can read about our research and land stewardship efforts at home. It also allows them to learn about opportunities going on in the community like our TeenNat summer program, Climate Stewards, and California Naturalist courses that serve as professional development opportunities for those that are interested in environmental careers. 

All of this happens within the span of just a couple hours! With every smile, for every “I did not know that!” comment and “whoa” moment, the positive impact done at these events grows and grows. Going to community outreach events allows Pepperwood to play a vital role in the lives of our community. 

Homeschool Day “Into the Wild” at the Schulz Museum

Where local children learned about the great outdoors and the animals that live there with Pepperwood, Sonoma Water, Sonoma County Reptile Rescue, the River Otter Ecology Project, Sonoma Beekeepers Association, and more!

North Bay Discovery Day at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds

A free public science festival to spark young people’s curiosity and wonder for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). There were between 8,000 – 10,000 attendees (even with rain!) participating in 100 hands-on STEM activities offered by 70 organizations including Pepperwood!

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