June E-News
Revitalizing the Laguna de Santa Rosa Together

As the days are warming up and the season transitions from spring to summer, I wanted to share a few highlights of the impactful work we are doing at the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation:

This spring, our field crews have made an incredible discovery at one of our vernal pool restoration sites. The endangered Sebastopol meadowfoam, which was once struggling with just 50 plants in 2017, has exploded in numbers – over 10,000 times – with our estimates now soaring over 500,000 plants! What’s truly remarkable is that almost all of these plants are descendants of the seeds we carefully collected, nurtured in our nursery, and planted back in the fall of 2019. We’re seeing similar success in our efforts to boost populations of other endangered species like the Burke’s goldfield and Sonoma sunshine.

We also noted the first sighting of a Monarch butterfly laying its eggs on newly planted native milkweed at the Laguna Uplands Preserve. A few weeks later, on Earth Day, we were thrilled to count more than three dozen caterpillars! This is conservation in action, thanks to the dedication and hard work of everyone involved. Let’s keep this momentum going and continue to make a real difference for these precious species and our environment!
We’ve also teamed up with partners across the watershed to craft a groundbreaking Restoration Plan. This plan aims to revive hundreds of acres of interconnected, diverse habitats along the Laguna de Santa Rosa. Our mission is clear: enhance water quality and flow, and foster native plant growth to support native fish and wildlife populations. These improvements won’t just benefit nature; they’ll also benefit our communities by boosting the Laguna’s ability to handle floods naturally and adapt to our ever-changing climate. Together, we’re making a real difference!
Together, we can realize our vision of a resilient, vibrant watershed that supports both wildlife and people.
Your commitment, whether as a donor, volunteer, or program participant, embodies the essence of our community’s spirit. You recognize the immense significance of wetlands as among the most vibrant ecosystems on our planet, and you’ve played a crucial role in our endeavors. For 35 years, your generosity has empowered us to be the voice of the Laguna, committed to enhancing the well-being of this special wetland ecosystem through restoration, conservation, and education.

Our local wetlands are not just important; they’re essential. Today, I come to you with a special appeal: join us in propelling the Laguna Foundation to greater heights by making a donation today. Help us realize our vision of a restored, healthy watershed. Your ongoing generosity means the world to us. Thank you for being a part of this vital mission!
Yours in partnership,

Anne Morkill
Executive Director
Celebrating the School Year
Learning Laguna wrapped up the 2023-2024 school year on May 29th after working with 650 children (and 87 parents!) in 30 classes, at 10 different schools located all over our watershed. The students learned about wetlands, the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed, and the flora and fauna we live with in Sonoma County. They discovered the intricate web of aquatic plants, and got curious about insects and migratory birds and secretive amphibians that call this place home. With each step students start to understand the role of each plant and animal in maintaining the health of this vibrant wetland habit. They also learned the importance of clean water and how wetlands act as natural filters.

During this year's Learning Laguna field trips we came across black-tail deer, monarch butterflies, white pelicans, orb-weaver spiders, great egrets, chorus frogs, nesting tree swallows and so much more! Hundreds of bitterns were made out of tule, along with animal track stamp cards and leaf rubbings. We discovered macroinvertebrates in our aquatic activities, and kids were brave enough to touch a skunk pelt without the fear of being sprayed. Students told us: “I never knew the Laguna was so important until this field trip”, “Spring brings a lot of pretty colorful birds and butterflies I’ve never seen before”, “I learned that our home needs plants because they prevent flooding”, and even asked “Could I use Tule as a straw?” Heartfelt appreciations to our skilled, kind and dedicated Learning Laguna docents who make Learning Laguna possible!
These children become young citizen scientists, eager to observe and document the diversity of life. They are becoming the new stewards of an ancient and vital ecosystem.
Ignite Passion for Nature and Help Shape Community as a Laguna Guide
Laguna Guide 12-hour Training
Thursday, September 19, 2024. 6:00 – 8:00pm
Location: Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Complete our Laguna Guide training and help the Laguna Foundation's community events thrive! We offer a wide range of presentations, outings and workshops all year long to deepen our appreciation for the Laguna de Santa Rosa, connect with nature, and inspire a vibrant community dedicated to lifelong learning.

These educational and outreach events are not possible without volunteer support! At each event, Laguna Guides are needed to help with a variety of tasks including: engaging participants and sharing about the Laguna, program set-up of tables and chairs, direct parking, process merchandise sales, clean-up, and help build enthusiasm and appreciation for the Laguna de Santa Rosa - a Wetland of International Importance. Guides not only help support the events, but they have the opportunity to attend those events for free!

To learn more about our Laguna Guides training, click here.
Thriving Roots:
A Recap of Our Eco-Friendly Garden Tour
Almost 300 people stopped by our native plant garden and plant sale on May 18 as part of the Eco-Friendly Garden Tour. Thanks to 25 amazing volunteers from the Laguna Foundation and California Native Plant Society – Milo Baker Chapter, we were ready for them! Thank you, visitors and volunteers, for your joy and excitement about restoring native plants to your home gardens!

This annual, self-guided garden tour promotes sustainable landscaping practices by showcasing native gardens throughout Sonoma and Marin counties. Over 3,500 people visited 26 demonstration gardens across Sonoma and Marin for free. This event is made possible by the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership since 2010.
Keep Up with Our Crew - Staff Updates
Our friend and colleague, Carlos Barragan, recently turned the page to the next chapter of his career and joined Jack London State Historic Park as the Bilingual Community Program Coordinator. During his time at the Foundation, his contributions towards the education department’s programming, organizational strategic planning, and his overall zest for life helped ensure the incorporation of inclusivity and a welcoming atmosphere for everyone. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with Carlos over the years and wish him the very best in his future endeavors.
Ready to take on the role as Education Coordinator, Ashley Carreño was recently promoted. Since joining us in 2023 as a Camp Tule Counselor, Ashley's enthusiasm and dedication have been evident. She then stepped up as an Environmental Education Assistant and truly shone. Ashley is moving into the new role of Education Coordinator with gusto, ready to take on more responsibility. She's been an incredible asset to both our education department and the entire Laguna Foundation team. Congratulations, Ashley!
In May, our restoration team gained two new members! Dawson Bell has joined us as our new Conservation Field Technician, dedicated to preserving local vernal pools. Dawson's passion for the outdoors began in the Laguna Watershed during his upbringing. He pursued Environmental Science at UC Davis, and gained experience working in the forests of Western Washington within the Sierra Nevada Range. Returning to the area, he pursued an M.S. in biology at Sonoma State, focusing on studying the resprouting response of California bay laurel to wildfire using terrestrial LiDAR which uses lasers to map areas in question.
Ashton Figaro joined the nursery team as a Nursery Technician after completing an internship at the Laguna Foundation in spring of 2024. He spent much of his former years immersed in nature, but his true interest in working in ecological restoration was sparked while surveying chaparral plant life at Sugarloaf State Park in the aftermath of the Glass Fire. He is currently studying natural resource management and fire ecology at Santa Rosa Junior College.
Camp Tule Registration Closes Soon - Spots Still Available
Camp Tule registration will be open until Wednesday, June 26th. Reserve your spot now so your child can enjoy a week full of exciting explorations, science learning, creative expression, nature play, and a joyful community for children and camp staff!
Session 1-2 are Full! Join the waitlist here.
Session 3: July 15-19 (ages 6-9) Register today!
Session 4: July 22-26 (ages 6-9) Register today!
Scholarships are still available for weeks 2-4.

Each camp session runs Monday-Friday 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. Cost is $350.00. To welcome all families, payment plans, tuition assistance, sibling and military discounts are all accessible within the online registration system.
We can’t wait to see your campers!
Volunteer Spotlight:
Heidi Fertig
Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been volunteering with the Laguna Foundation?
My first introduction to the Laguna Foundation was when I decided to enroll in the Laguna Guides training in August 2023. I thought it would be a great way to get educated about the Laguna and then help others learn about it. Throughout that training, I was consistently impressed by the dedication of the Laguna staff. They used a mix of engaging presentations and an extensive guide handbook to educate us about the diverse ecosystems within the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed. We learned about the mosaic of creeks and marshes, seasonal wetlands, riparian forests, and the wildlife that lives and depends on the Laguna. Through the training, we all got to know one another and feel connected as a group. Since then, I've volunteered as a guide for events such as the native plant sale and art openings at Heron Hall. I recently volunteered to help the event planning committee for the Taking Flight fundraiser held in April. That was a great opportunity for me to meet and collaborate closely with the Laguna staff, as well as some of the fundraiser attendees who give so generously to support the Foundation's mission.

How did you get started volunteering at the Laguna Foundation?
My husband and I moved to Sebastopol three years ago. At that time, I was winding down my corporate career in Silicon Valley and exploring where I could do meaningful volunteer work that would connect me to the community and give me opportunities to make an impact. I mentioned it to my friend and next-door neighbor, Marcia Johnson, a long-time volunteer at Laguna Foundation. Marcia recommended I contact them, and that’s when I found out about becoming a guide. 

What motivates you to give back to the community with the Laguna Foundation?
I have always loved and appreciated open space and being surrounded by nature. It’s one of the main things that attracted us to this area. We live close to the Laguna, and I was taken by its natural beauty. The Foundation does critical work to protect and preserve endangered plants and animals and manage the health of this biodiverse ecosystem. They also do a great job of engaging the community and future conservationists through programs like Learning Laguna, Camp Tule, workshops, and guided walks. I believe strongly in giving back to the community where we work and live, so I enjoy being both a volunteer and donor to support the Foundation’s efforts.

What’s your favorite thing about volunteering with the Laguna Foundation? Working with the staff and fellow volunteers and meeting foundation supporters throughout the community. Each time I volunteer, I meet someone new and feel more connected to this special community. I particularly enjoy the art openings because Heron Hall is such a beautiful venue to show art and meet other art enthusiasts. Different artists are featured throughout the year, and it’s so interesting and inspiring to see how the artists interpret the beauty of the Laguna and the wildlife that inhabits it.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking of volunteering for the Laguna Foundation? I would encourage anyone to try an event and get involved! It’s a lot of fun. The staff and fellow volunteers are always welcoming and helpful. You really feel good about helping and contributing to the many wonderful events and programs that the Foundation puts on throughout the year. 
Visit Us!
The Laguna Environmental Center remains open by appointment. Visit the gallery and grounds during the weekdays by contacting Maggie Hart.