Members’ meetings

East Bay Chapter members’ meetings are good for:
Virtually visiting beautiful and interesting places
Being inspired by conservation challenges and success stories
Meeting people who share your interests

Our meetings are always free and open to everyone, members and nonmembers alike. We meet at 7:30 pm on the fourth Wednesday evening of the month in January-May and September-November, with a slight adjustment in the schedule to avoid Thanksgiving week. Most of our meetings take place at the Orinda Library, which is centrally located in our big, two-county chapter area.

Local Phenological Monitoring at San Lorenzo High School’s Native Plant Garden
Speakers: Joia Fishman, Gladys Valadez, Joleen Freed
Wednesday, February 27, 7:30 pm
Location: Garden Room, Orinda Public Library (location info below)

Phenology is the timing of life cycle events in an oranism’s life. Birds will time their nesting so that their eggs hatch when the most insects are available to feed their offspring. Flowering times are often affected by seasonal temperatures. Native Americans used phenology to decide when to harvest or hunt certain plants and animals. Farmers use phenology to decide the schedule of planting. Phenology influences the distribution and abundance of organisms, food webs, ecosystem services, and global cycles of water and carbon. Phenology can in turn be altered by changes in temperature and precipitation.

The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) was established to form long-term phenology datasets of a broad variety of species across the United States. There is growing evidence that global climate change is altering the phenology of flowering, breeding, and migration in many organisms. However, these changes are not all occurring at the same rate or in the same direction, resulting in the mistiming of previously synchronous phenological events. The USA-NPN states that critical applications of monitoring phenology include “management of invasive species and forest pests; predictions of human health-related events, such as allergies and mosquito season; optimization of when to plant, fertilize, and harvest crops; understanding the timing of ecosystem processes, such as carbon cycling; and assessment of the vulnerability of species, populations, and ecological communities to ongoing climate change.”

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Joia Fishman (shown in the photo) first learned of the USA-NPN from a previous supervisor who ran a phenology walk at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum. Joia attended UC Santa Cruz for four years, where she earned her B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Interested in the citizen science aspect of the phenology walk, Joia and her mother, Anita Wah, began talking about the possibilities of bringing phenological monitoring to the Druids, an environmental club formerly advised by San Lorenzo high school teacher (and Joia’s father) Alan Fishman. They thought that this would be a great opportunity for students to get involved in citizen science and contribute to research on a national scale. Anita and Joia took a course from the USA-NPN to become certified local phenology leaders so that they could start a recognized phenology monitoring program at San Lorenzo High School’s native plant garden. The phenology monitoring program is now up and running at San Lorenzo High School.

Student leaders Gladys Valadez and Joleen Freed, president and vice president of San Lorenzo High School’s Druid Environmental Club, will begin this month’s presentation with a description of the innovative programs that occur in the school’s one-acre native plant garden and nursery. Next, Joia Fishman will introduce us to phenology and the USA-NPN and also invite CNPS members (and other interested native plant lovers) to learn about phenology first hand at a workshop she and the Druids are offering at San Lorenzo High School this March. Those who attend the workshop will be able to send data to the USA-NPN from observations in their own gardens.

East Bay CNPS members’ meetings are free of charge and open to everyone. This month’s meeting takes place in the Garden Room of the Orinda Public Library at 26 Orinda Way, Orinda 94563, a few blocks from the Orinda BART station. The Garden Room is on the second floor of the building, accessible by stairs or an elevator. The Garden Room opens at 7 pm; the meeting begins at 7:30 pm. Email or call 510-496-6016 if you have questions.

Upcoming Programs:

March 27, 7:30 pm, Orinda Library Garden Room
Ann Riley: Restoring Unlikely Urban Environments

April 24, 7:30 pm, Orinda Library Garden Room
Camille Nowell: The Kaweah River—Botany, Biology and Human Interactions

May 22, 7:30 pm, Orinda Library Garden Room
Michael Uhler: Botanical Gems in the Ruby Mountains

We welcome your ideas for topics or speakers (some of our best programs have come from members’ suggestions), so please feel to contact us at