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Watsonville Wetlands Watch seeks docents

Posted: Monday, Jan 6th, 2014

Watsonville Wetlands Watch docent Sharon Clark teaches children about birds at the wetlands. (Contributed photos)

WATSONVILLE — Passionate about Watsonville’s wetlands, and want to share that enthusiasm with others?

The Watsonville Wetlands Watch has a spot for you.

The nonprofit organization is currently recruiting docents to help lead field trips, propagate native plants, perform water quality testing and more. Training begins on Jan. 22.

“Our docents have all kinds of different work they can do,” said Kathy Fieberling, volunteer coordinator of Watsonville Wetlands Watch. “We rely heavily on our docents.”

During training, local experts will provide an inside look at the wetlands of Watsonville, and classes will cover the ecology, restoration and the history of the wetlands.  

The seven-week program includes Wednesday evening presentations and Saturday morning field trips. During field trips, docent candidates will see little-known areas of the wetlands, go birding with an expert, go on a walk to learn the Ohlone uses of native plants, get hands-on restoration experience,  and learn how to facilitate learning and appreciation of the wetlands in young people of all ages. 

Fieberling said those interested in becoming a docent don’t have to be scientists; they only need to have a passion for the wetlands.

“It’s really fun for people,” she said. “They come out with this really kind of broad knowledge about the wetlands and a real appreciation for them.”

The training helps people become educators and communicators, according to Fieberling.

The Wednesday evening presentations are “highly interactive,” and typically complement the Saturday morning field trips in some way, she said. For example, trainees might learn about birds in the wetlands on Wednesday, and on Saturday, they will be led on a birding expedition through the wetlands with an expert birder.

High school students can become docents as well, Fieberling said, and earn community service hours.

There is a need for bilingual docents, but being bilingual is not a requirement to become a docent.

In 2013, besides facilitating nature experiences for more than 2,000 young people during school field trips, docents also helped with community events, propagated thousands of native plants, worked on art and other creative projects, tended the native plant garden, maintained the library, performed water quality testing and more.

“We’re doing really fun and interesting kinds of nature-based programs,” Fieberling said.


For information on becoming a Watsonville Wetlands Watch docent, contact Fieberling at 345-1226 or kathyfieb@yahoo.com.

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