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Community Education
Walks, Talks & Classes

November| December | January | February

Click here to review our cancellation policy

The Laguna Foundation is proud to collaborate with local biologists, artists, educators, herbalists, naturalists, and partner organizations to offer a wide range of natural and cultural history workshops, walks, presentations, and classes all year long. Whether you’d like to learn a new skill, enjoy the beautiful Laguna scenery, or attend a fun event with your family, the Laguna Foundation has a variety of offerings to deepen your appreciation for the Laguna de Santa Rosa, connect with nature, and inspire a vibrant community dedicated to lifelong learning.

  • Events take place at, or start from, the Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401, unless otherwise noted.
  • Most events require a registration fee. These fees cover the cost of our instructors' time, workshop materials, and directly support the Community Education program and the work of the Laguna Foundation.
  • All events require pre-registration to secure your place, unless noted otherwise. To register for an event, click on the “Register Now” button below or call our office at (707) 527-9277 xt 110.
  • We frequently post new events, so check our website again soon!



The Natural World in Pastel
Workshop with James R. Reynolds
Saturday, November 16, 10:00am - 3:00pm (takes place indoors, rain or shine)
$95. Pre-registration required.

Pastel is a popular and exciting medium that lends itself to lively portrayal of nature, since pastel sticks are made of pure color pigment. James Reynolds, the fall exhibiting artist at the Laguna Foundation, will show participants how to create vivid paintings in a relaxed and stimulating atmosphere looking out over the Laguna de Santa Rosa from Heron Hall. Topics of exploration will include composition, under painting, layering, varieties of mark making, color harmonies, and more. He will also touch on technical issues such as framing, use of fixatives, and material choices, addressing how to create a work of pastel art from start to finish. James will demonstrate each step in the pastel painting process and provide one-one-one guidance as participants create their own composition. Beginners are welcome, all supplies are provided, and photo references will be available for subject matter.

James R. Reynolds is an award winning artist living in Sebastopol, California. He has been an artist since he could hold a pencil. A sculptor in his 20s and 30s, James started painting in pastel and oil about 15 years ago. He has studied with many prominent local artists including Richard McDaniel, Clark Mitchell and Marsha Connell. James' work can be seen at Heron Hall from September 3 to December 20, 219 His work is also on display daily at the Sebastopol Gallery and Corrick's in Santa Rosa. He participates in two annual Studio shows: Art at the Source in June, and Art Trails in October. To see more of James' work, visit his website at www.JamesRReynolds.net.

Holiday Soap Making Workshop
With Kelly Smith
Saturday, November 23, 10:00am - 12:30pm
$40. Pre-registration required.
This workshop is sold out, but you are welcome to join the waitlist.

Learn a fun and useful new skill just in time for making unique homemade gifts for the holidays! If you’re new to cold process soap making, it can seem a bit overwhelming even with all of the online resources available; sometimes they make it even more confusing. From the chemistry of soap making, formulating recipes based on your own needs (such as dry skin), and breaking down the step-by step process, this hands-on class leaves no soap making secrets untold. Taught by veteran soap maker Kelly Smith of Rubber Ducky Soap, this workshop is designed to help you feel confident making bars of soap in your own kitchen, in addition to sending you home with two batches of soap made with additives and scents agreed upon during the class.

Kelly Smith was drawn to soap making after a friend gave her a bar of soap they had made when she was in her mid 20’s. Once she tried the handmade bar, she was driven to learn how to make soap herself, having been plagued by dry skin her entire life. After a few failed attempts, Kelly finally figured out how to make soap like the one she was given. By then, she was hooked and decided she would start a home-based business selling soap at local farmers’ markets and craft fairs. Kelly now operates 11 markets in Sonoma and Marin Counties and has turned passion for making cold process soap into a successful hobby business.

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The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness and Working Landscapes at Point Reyes National Seashore
Presentation by Laura Alice Watt, Professor, Department of Geography, Environment, and Planning at Sonoma State University
Thursday, December 5, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
$14 (non-refundable). Pre-registration required.

Both Point Reyes National Seashore and the Laguna de Santa Rosa could be described as “Leopoldian”, or places that exemplify Aldo Leopold’s ideas about the interconnections between wild and cultivated landscapes - yet the practicalities of including active agriculture within a federally protected area like Point Reyes National Seashore bring their own challenges. The history of Congressional intent to protect the continuation of over a century of dairy and beef ranching on the peninsula has come into recent clashes with the idea that public lands “should” be dominated by wildlife and recreation use. Laura Alice Watt’s recent book compiling years of research addresses how environmental history can help us to understand, and perhaps solve, this management dilemma. Join us for this thought-provoking talk that will chronicle how national ideals about what a park “ought to be” have developed over time, and what happens when these ideals are implemented by the National Park Service in its efforts to preserve places that are also lived-in landscapes.

Laura Alice Watt is a professor of environmental history and policy at Sonoma State University. Her long-term research agenda is to explore the history of protected landscapes to bolster their long-term sustainability in terms of both natural and cultural systems. In contrast to most land policy research, she uses landscape as a tool for understanding the complex interactions between people and their environments, tracking historical changes in protected areas as indicators of shifting social dynamics and structures. Prior to coming to SSU, she worked as an environmental consultant in San Francisco for four years with EDAW, Inc., specializing in writing resource management plans for the Bureau of Land Management, as well as historic landscape analyses for a variety of government agencies. Outside of school she is an avid photographer and sailor.

Winter Wetland Birding
Outing with naturalist and educator Jasmine Dingler and Laguna Foundation's Allison Titus
Saturday, December 7, 8:30am - 12:30pm
$40. Pre-registration required.

What do you call a winter wonderland for birds? A wetland! An abundance of different waterfowl migrate for the winter to the Laguna de Santa Rosa, where they can find protective shelter and plenty of open water for feeding. Some of our notable winter migrants include Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Eared Grebe, and Green-winged Teals, and we may also spot resident waterfowl such as Great Blue Herons, American White Pelicans and Snowy Egrets. Join naturalist and educator Jasmine Dingler of Point Reyes National Seashore Association and Allison Titus, Laguna Community Education Manager, for a leisurely walk and drive along the Laguna spotting some of our seasonal visitors by eye and ear. Beginning birdwatchers are welcome! We will return to Heron Hall to eat our packed lunches together and make a list of the birds we encountered to round out the day.

Jasmine Dingler is the Nature & Science Educator for Point Reyes National Seashore Association. She is passionate about avian conservation, and has spent her career working in wildlife health and public education. Jasmine holds a M.S. from U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where she conducted research on how birds contribute to the ecology of Lyme disease. She has been banding at Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge for nearly a decade, and has worked with avian conservation organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, California Waterfowl Association, Island Conservation, International Bird Rescue Center, and Seabird Protection Network.

Birding Colombia
Special Presentation by Santiago M. Escruceria, Mono Lake Committee Outdoor Education Center Program Manager and Eastern Sierra Audubon Society Chapter President
Monday, December 9, 6:30pm - 8:00pm
$14 (non-refundable). Pre-registration required.

Does December have you dreaming of a tropical birding trip, or better yet, planning one in the near future? Join us on Monday for a colorful international birding experience right at home in Heron Hall with special guest Santiago Escruceria. Colombia is home to 20% of the bird species in the world, or some 1,957 known bird species. Despite the widespread loss of birds making headlines, there are still new bird species being discovered as recently as October of this year, such as Tororoi Bailador, a new species of Antpitta. Santiago will share with the group a collection of photos of birds that can be seen in the areas of the Western and Central Cordilleras of Colombia, as well as discuss bird conservation and politics of conservation in Colombia

Santiago M. Escruceria is a Colombian-born American citizen residing in California for the past 40 years. He graduated with a BA in Cultural Anthropology and a minor in Environmental Studies from Sonoma State University. He has taught environmental education, in Spanish and English, for the past 27 years, 20 of which he has spent with the Mono Lake Committee. At Mono Lake he manages the Committee's Outdoor Education Center program for Los Angeles youth and California youth. Santiago is an avid birder and bird photographer, leading birding adventures in the Eastern Sierra, and Colombia during the winter and walks for school groups in the Mono Basin during the rest of the year. Santiago has been working with Eastern Sierra Audubon Society as a Board Member and currently as President of the Chapter. For more information on his trips to Colombia, please visit: guadualitobirdingtours.com

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January 2020

River Otters on the Rise: Monitoring, Research and Results in the SF Bay Area
Presentation by Megan Isadore and Terence Carroll of River Otter Ecology Project
Thursday, January 9, 2020, 6:30pm - 8:00pm
$14 (non-refundable). Pre-registration required.

The River Otter Ecology Project has been monitoring and researching river otter recovery for seven years. Their community science-based project uses camera trapping and scat collection for genetic and bacterial analysis to answer some burning questions: where are the otters; how are they doing; what are the implications of the return of this apex aquatic predators; what is their ecosystem niche? Megan Isadore, Executive Director of the River Otter Ecology Project, and Terrence Carroll, Head of Data and Informatics, will talk about the community science "Otter Spotter” program as well as results from the River Otter Ecology Project’s 225km stretches of Marin coast, river, reservoir and bay. Please join us to see some of the rollicking reasons river otters make such excellent ambassadors for wetland restoration and watershed conservation. Great videos from our camera traps will make you happy!

Open-Weave Twined Rush Basket
Workshop with Charlie Kennard
Saturday, January 11, 9:30am - 3:30pm
This workshop is sold out, but you are welcome to join the waitlist.

Spend a day working with your hands and learning about the timeless, beautiful, and humbling art of basket making with local basket weaver Charlie Kennard. Participants will weave a southern California style bowl-shaped basket that has several unusual features, including finishing all the weft ends at the rim. Rushes, which will be used for this basket, are often found in wetlands and are common throughout the Laguna de Santa Rosa, making this class a unique way to connect with the local landscape as well as discover a new skill. You will have a choice of rush (Juncus) species to twine with, one being very large, for your basket.

This workshop is suitable for adults and teenagers. All basket-making materials are included in the registration fee. Participants must bring a water bowl, large scissors, and lunch. Hot drinks and snacks are provided throughout the day.

Charlie Kennard of San Anselmo is a long-time basket weaver and student of California Indian and other traditional basketry techniques of the world. He teaches throughout the Bay Area, 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, and in the collection of the Lake County Museum. You can also visit a basketry plant garden Charlie has created at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross, where he and friends have woven a basket 13 feet across. Charlie is active in native habitat restoration in Marin, managing several projects for Friends of Corte Madera Creek Watershed.

Favorite Edible Mushrooms of Sonoma County
Presentation by Darvin DeShazer, Co-Founder of Sonoma County Mycological Association
Thursday, January 23, 6:30 - 8:00pm
$14 (non-refundable). Pre-registration required.
Registration opening soon!

Foragers, naturalists, and enthusiasts, join us for one of the most popular and timeless winter topics in natural history: edible mushrooms. If you’ve ever been stopped on a hike by a curious-looking mushroom and wondered, “Could I eat that?” this presentation is for you. The forests, grasslands, and woodlands of Sonoma County host about 3,000 species of mushrooms, half of which are edible. Local mushroom hunter, Darvin DeShazer, will take us on a visual journey through some of his favorite local fungi fares and even offer some hints on where to find them

NOTE: No mushroom should be eaten unless it can first be positively identified as edible. Successful identification of mushrooms requires practice and expertise beyond this presentation.

Darvin DeShazer is a retired science teacher with forty years of mushroom hunting. He is one the co-founders of SOMA (Sonoma County Mycological Association) and creator of SOMA Camp, which is the fund raiser for his scholarship program. His love for hunting mushrooms has resulted in over 10,000 color photos of fungi on Mushroom Observer and iNaturalist and contributed to the popular book 100 Edible Mushrooms.

Winter Color: Branches, Leaves and Winter Fruit
Colored Pencil Techniques workshop with Nina Antze
Saturday, January 25, 10:00am - 3:00pm
$95. Pre-registration required.

Although we think of winter as a monochrome season, the dormant Laguna landscape is full of soft colors waiting to be discovered in the dried grasslands, bubbling creeks, and lush wetlands. Explore the textures, markings, and colors of winter branches, dying leaves, acorns, dried berries, fruit, and other last vestiges of the season along with any signs of emerging spring. Working with colored pencils, learn to create lovely and interesting browns and grays and even greens using blending and layering techniques, incorporating the basics of botanical drawing while enjoying the warmth of Heron Hall. All levels are welcome.

A supply list will be provided upon registration, so please register with an email address you check regularly. Also, we recommend adding Eventbrite to your safe senders list to prevent your supply list reminder from going to your spam folder.

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.

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Sunrise Wetland Walk with “Duck Man” Dave Barry
Saturday, February 1, 7:30am - 11:00am
$35. Pre-registration required.

Celebrate International Wetlands Day with an early winter morning on the Laguna de Santa Rosa with local wetland birder “Duck Man” Dave Barry! We will visit two sites along the Laguna, not normally open to the public, where waterfowl love to hang out during the winter months. Come learn basic identification techniques and key characteristics of waterfowl found in Sonoma County and along the Laguna de Santa Rosa at different times of year, as well as learn cool facts such as the difference between “dabbling" and “diving” ducks and its importance to these masters of the water world. We will keep a list of what we see and compare notes back at Heron Hall.

This natural history walk is suitable for novice to advanced birders, 10 years old and up.

Dave Barry is a certified California Naturalist, a certification program created by UC Berkeley and UC Davis. Dave brings a breath of experience and knowledge of birding and nature to his volunteer work mentoring young birders, leading bird tours and nature hikes, and giving natural history talks. Dave is a Santa Rosa native and has done programs with LandPaths, Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, the Wildlands Conservancy, and is a lead naturalist with West County Hawk Watch.

The Forest Floor: Leaves, Roots, Moss and Fungi
Gouache Techniques Workshop with Lucy Martin
Saturday, February 8, 10:00am - 3:30pm
Takes place indoors, rain or shine.
$95. Pre-registration required.

The subject of fairy tales and scientific studies alike, the forest floor beckons with the juxtaposition of growth and decay, light and dark, the unknown and the familiar. Local botanical artist Lucy Martin will provide instruction for composing a painting of interesting things we find with closer examination of the ground in the woods. Lucy paints mainly in gouache (similar to watercolor but more opaque), with the addition of watercolor and occasionally colored pencil. She will present techniques such as layering from dark to light, dry brush for texture and using gouache to achieve intense color, which are methods that help create a painting that has a sense of depth and density. She will also demonstrate each step in the painting and provide one-on-one guidance as the students create their own compositions. Lucy will bring various objects from the forest, such as leaves, mosses, roots, and fungi, though students may bring their own specimens as well.

A supply list will be provided upon registration, so please register with an email address you check regularly. Also, we recommend adding Eventbrite to your safe senders list to prevent your supply list reminder from going to your spam folder.

Lucy Martin lives in Sonoma County, California. She is mainly self-taught, with some formal training including classes with Mary Jo Koch. She exhibits in the Sebastopol Gallery and Calabi Gallery, as well as annually in Art Trails, the juried Sonoma County Open Studio art tour. Her work was purchased for the Permanent Collection of the Special Collections and Archives Department at the McHenry Library at UCSC. She has exhibited in international shows of the American Society of Botanical Artists and solo shows at the Library at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her art exhibit focused on lichens was on display in Heron Hall during the summer of 2018. Visit her website at www.lucymartinart.com.

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Cancellation Policy

If you are registered for an event and need to cancel, please notify us as soon as possible so that others may attend. Cancellations received more than 30 days in advance of the event date will receive a refund minus a $10.00 processing fee. Cancellations made between 30-7 days in advance will receive a 50% refund. We are sorry but refunds cannot be given on cancellations made less than 7 days in advance. Please also note that we often need a minimum number of participants to conduct most events. If the Laguna Foundation needs to cancel the event for any reason, we will notify you as soon as possible (at least 1 day prior to the event) and you will receive a full refund.

Non-Refundable Fee

Events that cost $20 and less are non-refundable (except in case of our cancelling for inclement weather or other extenuating circumstances, in which case we will issue full refunds). This is due to administrative costs and processing fees associated with online registration services such as Eventbrite. Thank you for your understanding and for your interest and support of our programs!

For more information, contact Allison Titus, Community Education Program Manager
(707) 527-9277 xt. 110 or by email at Allison@LagunaFoundation.org.

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