photo by Anthony Brewer































photo by Jenny Blaker















photo by Jim Maughn

























Laguna Foundation Public Education Events

2016 Schedule

RIVER OTTERS! Special Laguna Environmental Center Open House

Saturday, February 13, 10:00am-3:00pm
Location: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Free (donations appreciated). No RSVP necessary.

Join us for this family-friendly Open House to learn all about river otters! Our friends from the River Otter Ecology Project (ROEP) will be with us and will have educational displays and fun, hands-on activities for all ages. Displays will include current maps of river otter sightings; information on the ROEP’s Education, Research, and Citizen Science programs; River Otter v. Sea Otter display and skull models for comparison; and children's coloring activities.

Also, learn about the natural and cultural history of the Laguna de Santa Rosa and historic Stone Farm by taking a guide-led tour or explore the Children's Playscape and native plant landscape on your own. Birdwatch from the observation deck. Bring a picnic and take in the stunning views! Enjoy our nature store in Great Blue Heron Hall and the beautiful new art exhibit California Flora: Botanical Paintings in Colored Pencil by Nina Antze (on display through April 24). This is a working farm, so please leave your pets at home. The site is wheelchair accessible. No RSVP necessary. We look forward to seeing you!

Stay on for a presentation at 3:00pm with Executive Director of the River Otter Ecology Project, Megan Isadore (see below). ___________________________________________________________________________

River Otters Are Back!

Presentation with Megan Isadore, Executive Director of the River Otter Ecology Project
Saturday, February 13, 3:00-4:30pm (following the River Otters Open House, details above)
Location: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$10 at the door. No RSVP necessary.

After the Open House at 3:00pm, Megan Isadore will give a presentation in Heron Hall about how river otters, extirpated from the Bay Area for decades, are back!  The River Otter Ecology Project has been studying their return and their ecological niche in our shared watersheds since 2012, and they've come up with some very interesting and hopeful findings. Come on out and hear about their results, their continuing investigations, and of course plenty of river otter natural history, illustrated with videos of these very charismatic otters. We hope you will learn a lot and leave with a renewed sense of the positive changes we humans are able to make to conserve and restore precious habitat shared by otters, birds, fish, eelgrass, kelp, humans and every living creature in between.

Megan Isadore is Co-founder and Executive Director of River Otter Ecology Project. She is a naturalist who has been studying and teaching about coastal wetland ecology in relation to salmonids for the past 16 years, as well as working as a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in raccoons. The river otter project grew out of questioning whether people were actually seeing more river otters in Marin creeks and bays, or whether people were just noticing them more. When they realized there was no population, range, prey or other information available on river otters in Central California they decided to begin that work. They collected a team of scientists and naturalists and began their non-invasive study of river otters, using camera traps, scat collection and habitat mapping.


Drawing the Colors of Winter and Spring: Colored Pencil Techniques

Workshop with botanical illustrator, Nina Antze
Saturday, February 20, 10:00am-3:00pm
Location: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center,
 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$85. Pre-registration required (see below).

We will explore the Laguna Environmental Center and historic Stone Farm for the beautiful leaves and pods of winter and possible early spring flowers to draw. Enjoy a peaceful, meditative day doing pencil work. Working with colored pencils, learn  to create lovely color using blending, layering and burnishing techniques while incorporating the basics of botanical drawing. All levels welcome. Join us for this fun and creative workshop.

This workshop will take place in Heron Hall where Nina's art exhibit, California Flora: Botanical Paintings in Colored Pencil, will be on display January 7 through April 24, 2016. Nina Antze is a Sonoma County botanical artist and quiltmaker. She has a degree in Fine Art from San Francisco State and a Certificate in Botanical Illustration from the New York Botanical Gardens. She teaches colored pencil and botanical workshops throughout the Bay Area. Learn more about Nina at her website.


Behind the Scenes Exploration Along the Laguna Discovery Trail (or Laguna Trail)

With Laguna Foundation Executive Director, Kevin Munroe and Director of Restoration and Conservation Science Programs, Wendy Trowbridge
Saturday, February 27, 9:00am-Noon

Meeting at the Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$30. Pre-registration required (see below).

Depending on the conditions, we will explore either the new Laguna Discovery Trail to the south or the Laguna Trail. Help us look for waterfowl, tree frogs, and mammal tracks, as we discuss the ecosystem-approach to “seeing” the Laguna Watershed. Both trails are wonderful places to enjoy a walk with a friend, take in beautiful open sky, watch birds, catch glimpses of other wildlife, and deepen your Laguna sense of place. During this special outing co-led by our Restoration & Conservation Science Director Wendy Trowbridge & our Executive Director, Kevin Munroe we will certainly focus on the wonder of the place and provide insight into restoration efforts that improve the functioning of the Laguna now and for the future. Special emphasis will be placed on teaching about the plants used in restoration and their importance to wildlife and a healthy Laguna. Details emailed upon registration.


The True Nature of American Badger

Presentation with Susan Kirks
Thursday, March 3, 7:00-8:30pm
Location: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$10 at the door. No RSVP necessary.

Badgers are a little understood species, often described as “elusive,” yet are native mammals to California and other parts of the U.S. and Canada. Did you know that American badger (Taxidea taxus) is making its home in Sonoma County and has recently been documented moving through the Laguna de Santa Rosa corridor? Join us for a fascinating talk about the “true nature” of the American badger. Badger ecologist and naturalist Susan Kirks will share her experience observing and working to understand the badger in its native habitat, its needs and behaviors, and her work to conserve habitat and the species. Learn to recognize signs of badger activity, learn about seasonal behaviors from autumn to summer, and discover the ecosystem benefits of American badger.

Susan Kirks is a Badger ecologist and naturalist in her 16th year of direct field study and observation of American badger. Recognized as the leading naturalist in California for the species, Susan’s focus is conservation of habitat and wildlife connectivity areas to support American badger being able to survive in its native habitat. Susan is a past president of Madrone Audubon Society and continues to serve as Chair of the Renewable Energy Subcommittee of Madrone’s Conservation Committee. Susan’s educational background includes a Master’s degree in Communication, Bachelor’s degree in Communication, and Master’s degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine. She is a licensed acupuncturist in California. Susan helped found and continues to lead the nonprofit, Paula Lane Action Network, a Grantee in conserving a 100-year-old-plus American badger habitat in West Petaluma, an 11-acre land centrally located in a wildlife corridor, and the first conserved land specifically for badger in California.


Discover the Historic Headwaters of the Laguna de Santa Rosa
Walk with Jenny Blaker, Michael Knappman, and Kate Symonds
Saturday, March 5, 10:00am-2:00pm
Meeting in Cotati (directions and details sent upon registration)

$25. Pre-registration required (see below).

Explore the upper reach of the Laguna de Santa Rosa from downtown Cotati to the historic “headwaters” on a gentle, level, (but not wheelchair accessible) 3-mile loop walk. A number of local experts will share their knowledge and insights of the natural and cultural history of the area. This leisurely amble will include highlights about the Ross Street vernal pools; Cotati Creek Critters restoration and education work; Cotati’s water-saving permaculture “Pocket Park;” Rohnert Park's Lydia Commons Community Garden (where we’ll stop for a picnic lunch); and the surprising historic headwaters of the Laguna de Santa Rosa. Jenny Blaker, co-founder of Cotati Creek Critters, and Michael Knappman, of the Lydia Commons Community garden organizing committee, will lead the loop walk from downtown Cotati to the historic headwaters of the Laguna and back. Kate Symonds will join us briefly in the beginning of the walk, and a representative from Daily Acts will give us a tour of Pocket Park. This walk is most suitable for adults (slow with lots of stops).

Jenny Blaker co-founded Cotati Creek Critters in 1998 and was Outreach Coordinator for their grant-funded habitat restoration project, which involved thousands of volunteers planting and maintaining native plants alongside the Laguna de Santa Rosa channel in Cotati from 2006-2012. Jenny lives along the Laguna in Cotati and has an MA in Conservation Psychology from SSU, which was based on the Cotati Creek Critters project. Michael Knappman has been on the Lydia Commons Community Garden organizing committee since its inception in 2009. He has been active as a Master Gardener, helping promote community gardens and school gardens in Sonoma County. He has been walking the Laguna channel in his neighborhood for the past 25 years. Kate Symonds is a biologist with 30 years of experience, including 20 years with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (recently retired), in which the last 12 years she specialized in habitat restoration and native plants. She now volunteers as the Invasive Plants Chair of the California Native Plant Society Milo Baker Chapter and as a docent at Fairfield Osborne Preserve. Kate lives in Cotati.


Spring Stories for the Young at Heart

Storytelling evening for families with Ane Carla Rovetta
Saturday, March 12, 7:30-9:00pm

Details and registration coming soon!


California Tiger Salamander Terrestrial Ecology Workshop
Friday, March 18, 8am-5:30pm (includes breakfast and lunch)
Location: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$250 ($225 early-bird before Feb 8), $125 student (must be full-time undergraduate)
Pre-registration required.
Sorry, this workshop is FULL.

This one-day workshop is designed to provide practical training to professional biologists, resources managers, and students on the terrestrial ecology, land use management, and regulations of the California tiger salamander (CTS). The lecture session will include a review of the biology, upland habitat use, and migration patterns of CTS, the theory and design of roadway tunnels to facilitate safe passage of migrating salamanders; design of pitfall trap arrays; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife approved survey protocols; and implementing and monitoring land use management practices. The afternoon will consist of field trips that will provide training and hands-on experience. A pitfall trap and fence array will be constructed by attendees. Three CTS tunnel systems along roadways will be visited and discussed.


Rare Pond Species Survey Techniques Workshop
March 19-20, 1 or 2-day workshop, depending on the day you choose to attend the fieldtrip (includes breakfast and lunch on March 19 only)
Location: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$400 ($375 early-bird before Feb 8), $150 student (must be full-time undergraduate)
Pre-registration required, click hereSorry, this workshop is FULL.

This one or two-day workshop (depending on your choice of field trip day) is designed to provide practical training on aquatic survey techniques for the California tiger salamander, California red-legged frog, and western pond turtle. The range of these three rare and protected species overlap and they often occur in similar pond habitats. The lecture session will include a review of the biology and ecology of these species, identification of life stages, state and federal regulations, and approved survey protocols. The field trip sessions will provide field training in aquatic survey techniques, including dip net sampling for CTS larvae, evening spotlighting for frogs, and turtle visual encounter surveys and trapping.


Spring Birding in the Laguna Series

Birdwatching and Natural History Walks with Lisa Hug
Sunday March 20, Saturday April 16, and Sunday May 22, 8:30am-1:00pm
Meeting at the Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$45 per walk. Pre-registration required (see below).
The March 20th walk is full.

In this birding series, we will celebrate Spring by exploring a different non-publicly accessible corner of the Laguna each month. In March we will enjoy the wide variety of waterfowl that utilizes the deep channels of the Laguna that the winter rains have brought. During the months of April and May the resident songbirds will awaken and the colorful migrants will arrive from Central America with their vibrant songs. There will be a short PowerPoint orientation the first session. Bring binoculars, (spotting scope optional), a field guide, comfortable walking shoes, layered clothing, water and a packed lunch or snacks.  We will end each session with a group lunch and make a list of the species which we encountered. This series is suitable for all skill levels, from beginning birder to advanced.

Lisa Hug originally came to California from the Midwest in 1986. She was very involved with Point Reyes Bird Observatory and eventually became a contract biologist and freelance naturalist in the mid-1990s. She has been teaching for the College of Marin, Petaluma Adult School and Point Reyes Field Institute for over a decade. She was president of Redwood Region Ornithological Society for two years and received the Martha Bentley and Ernestine Smith Award For the Dedication to Wildlife Conservation Education in 2009. She is currently a regional coordinator for the Sonoma County Breeding Bird Atlas and she just finished editing the new Birds Checklist for the Laguna de Santa Rosa which can be bought through the Laguna Foundation Store.

March 20th walk is full. Email if you'd like to be added to the wait list.

Click here to register for Saturday, April 16, $45
Click here to register for Sunday, May 22, $45


The Absolutely Amazing Dragonflies of the Laguna de Santa Rosa and Environs
Presentation by Kathy Biggs
Thursday, March 24, 7:00-8:30pm
Location: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$10 at the door. No RSVP necessary.

Learn about the fifty or more species of dragonflies that inhabit the Laguna de Santa Rosa and how some of them use the flyway for migration, like birds migrating along this portion of the Pacific flyway.  Take a moment to ponder, who was here first, the birds or the dragonflies? (Hint: Dragonflies were on Earth BEFORE dinosaurs. Dinosaurs became birds....). There is so much we are still learning about the Odes (short for Odonata, the name of the order dragonflies belong to). Come and find out what we do know, as well as what we are still learning about these dazzling dragonflies.

Kathy Biggs is a local birder and nationally prominent expert on dragonflies and backyard wetlands biology. She is the author of Common Dragonflies of California: A Beginner's Pocket Guide, as well as other field guides and a dragonfly coloring book for children. Her newest guide is Dragonflies of the Greater Southwest - Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. For more information about Kathy's books and work, visit her website. The Biggs' field guides and coloring books will be offered for sale at the presentation.


Weave a Coiled Straw Basket: Workshop with Charlie Kennard
Sunday, April 3, 9:30am-3:30pm
Location: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center,
 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$80. Pre-registration required (see below).

Here is a real treat of a workshop with weaving expert, Charles (Charlie) Kennard. Enjoy a delightful day full of hands-on learning in Heron Hall and around the peaceful Laguna Environmental Center grounds. Participants will have the choice of using a roadside grass, native deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), or rush (Juncus effusus), to begin a bowl-shaped basket made in a skep (bee-hive) weaving technique. Such containers can be used for honeybee swarm-catchers, for holding fruit or for dough-rising. We will be treated with bread fresh from the oven, and honey samples.

Charlie Kennard of San Anselmo is a long-time basket weaver and student of California Indian and European techniques. He has taught for the Miwok Archeological Preserve of Marin (MAPOM), Point Reyes Field Institute, East Bay Regional Parks Botanic Garden, and in many schools and at teacher trainings. Tule boats made in his workshops can be seen at the California Academy of Sciences, the Bay Model in Sausalito, the Oakland Museum, and our own Heron Hall. You can also visit a basketry plant garden he has created at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross. Charlie is active in native habitat restoration in Marin, managing several projects for Friends of Corte Madera Creek Watershed. 



Also on tap in coming months. . . Stay tuned for details!

  • Talks about botany, geology, anthropology, hydrology
  • Talks about reptiles, arachnids, bats, and butterflies
  • Laguna hikes and natural history explorations
  • Natural history and art classes for all ages
  • Mid-Week Movie Nights
  • And much, much more!!!

For more information, contact Anita Smith, Public Education Manager, (707) 527-9277 x110 or