The Egret Corner
December 2021 | Issue 18
Description: A wet Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) perched on a Eucalyptus branch on a rainy day in the Ballona Wetlands. This large predator can take down prey larger than itself including other raptors with its fierce talons.

Location: Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve Area B
Photo: Jonathan Coffin, Edits: Lisa Rachal
Dear Ballona Wetlands Advocates,

As 2021 comes to a close, this newsletter offers a look back at what we accomplished, as well as a look forward to our goals for 2022. Our work would not be possible without the generous support of donors like you, so please consider an end-of-year financial contribution to our 501(c)(3) non-profit. Our mailing address and a link to our PayPal account can be found at ballona.org/donate.

After almost two years of being unable to conduct in-person field trips to the Ballona Wetlands, there is a ray of hope for the coming school semester, but continued uncertainty due to the Omicron variant. Please do everything you can to reduce transmissions of the virus. This will not only keep you safe but will help allow programs like ours to move forward safely.

Although we are very eager to resume field trips to the wetlands, it has been a joy to interact and teach students about the wetlands through Zoom. We will continue Zoom nature classes for schools and groups until we can once again meet safely in-person.

This month's newsletter features a summary of this year's projects, eco-friendly holiday tips, updated Ballona public tour times, a feature on the NatureChola, and the bird of the month, a songbird born in arctic conditions.

Project Update Summary:

  • Starting 2022, we hope to resume tabling at outreach events, health guidelines permitting. If you would like us to attend a tabling event near you, simply reply to this email.

  • We are completing work on three short nature videos - look out for them next year!

  • Last week, we had another delightful group of students to teach and talk to. Do you know a class or group that would love to learn more about the Ballona Wetlands and its watershed? Contact sofia@ballona.org or fill out this form.

We hope you enjoy the rest of the newsletter. For previous issues, visit our newsletter archive. If you have any questions or concerns, reply to this email. Lastly, please give us feedback by completing our newsletter survey.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Sincerely,

The Ballona Wetlands Team
End of the Year Project Summary
Virtual Classes - Ballona Watershed and Aquatic Life
During the pandemic, our education and outreach team switched from in-person tours to virtual nature classes to keep students connected and informed about the Ballona Creek Watershed, where many of them reside. Students had the opportunity to explore the Ballona Watershed in a new and engaging way, using Google Earth and Zoom.

Our team offers two virtual classes: an overview of the Ballona Creek Watershed, featuring a mini-tour of the Ecological Reserve, and an exploration of Ballona's aquatic life and ecosystems.

Book a class here.
Our First Virtual Curriculum
At the start of the pandemic, our team was able to modify an existing curriculum to teach our first virtual class, an overview of the Ballona Watershed.

Throughout the two years, there was an ongoing effort to modify and tailor this class for grades K-5 living in the LA area, thereby expanding our existing age group. Students learning at home and/or masked in class have participated.

This year over 420 students at 9 different schools were taught this class.
Creating An Additional Virtual Curriculum
Thanks to grant funding received in 2021, a second virtual class was added, Ballona's Aquatic Life Presentation!

In this virtual class, we explore the range of aquatic organisms living within the Ballona Creek watershed, the types of ecosystems that exist, and how the food chain and web work. In addition, we provide examples of how students can act as stewards to care for their watershed.

Students have the opportunity to see how diverse the LA area is from an ecological perspective, and how interconnected it is.

This year we had the pleasure of teaching this class to over 220 students in the LA area.
Access to Area A Presentation
One of our many goals is to gain access to Area A of the Ballona Wetlands, for educational and stewardship opportunities, similar to the ones that take place in Area B.

In the video, our team illustrates how this goal can be achieved. We highlight the wildlife that lives in this area, how the tours could be set up, and how we could facilitate access in Area A.

This video was shown to the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission Board in April. Although we did not gain access this year, several board members expressed support, and at the next meeting, the Commission adopted a resolution encouraging expanded access that is safe and wildlife-friendly. Additional agencies and entities have since expressed support for such access, which will allow outdoor nature education and much-needed stewardship activities. We hope to see revised access policies sometime in 2022.

End of the Year Videos
Another tool we use to keep students connected to nature is videos. Videos allow us to speak on different environmental topics in a fun and concise way. These videos can be viewed at any time, allowing students and others to learn about nature in their homes or classrooms.
Ballona Wetland Wildlife Video
Salmon Run
Video
Explore a Park - Part 2
Video

Videos will be ready next year. Stay tuned!
Help Us Further Our Efforts
Contributions collected are used to advance our efforts to advocate for the greater Ballona Wetlands ecosystem. Any contributions are greatly appreciated.
Diversity in the Field: Presenting Karen Ramos
In this segment, we aim to support diversity by showcasing people currently underrepresented in environmental fields, working to improve the environment and/or people's access to natural spaces. We hope to provide representation for people who might not see themselves in these fields and inspire ways to be more inclusive.
This month we are featuring Karen Ramos, aka NatureChola, founder of the nonprofit Get Out Stay Out/Vamos Afuera, an organization committed to serving migrant and indigenous populations of California's Central Coast.

Daughter of two migrant farmworkers, Karen loved being outdoors and camping with her family when she was younger. She wanted to provide that same opportunity to youth with whom she so strongly identified, so she founded Get Out, Stay Out. Currently finishing up her studies at Cal Poly, SLO, when she isn’t hitting the books she can be found running up a trail pulling her very stubborn very cute dog along.

Read more
Local News
December 2021 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar
Ballona Wetlands tours led by LA Audubon Society at 9:00, 10:00, and 11:00 a.m., on the 1st Saturday and 2nd Sunday of each month.

Reservations are required and can be made by emailing cindyhardin@laaudubon.org or calling (310) 301-0050. Mandatory health and safety protocols are in place.
12 Ways to Have an Eco-Friendly Holiday
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away a million extra tons of trash each week, including holiday wrapping and packaging. We also use more electricity on holiday lights than some countries use in an entire year! All this waste is really unnecessary.

Here are twelve eco-friendly holiday tips to help you reduce your environmental footprint this holiday season.

Read More
Bird of the Month: American Pipit
Birds featured here have been seen at the Ballona Reserve or in the surrounding area.
Interesting Facts
"American Pipits are among the very few species of American songbirds that nest in both Arctic tundra and alpine meadows."
Habitat: open and low-shrub lands - tundra, shortgrass plains, alpine meadows, sandbars, mudflats, airfields, turf farms, etc

Diet: ground and aquatic insects

Nesting: always on the ground in open environments near some vegetation, earth, or rock shelter
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The Ballona Wetlands Land Trust is a non-profit community organization
dedicated to advocating for the greater Ballona Wetlands ecosystem and to facilitating access to this ecosystem for education, stewardship, and public outreach.