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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Tuolumne River, Waterford, California, USA

Tuolumne River, Waterford, California, USA
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Registered: June 2014
City/Town/Province: Waterford
Posts: 1
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A Tribute to the Wood Ducks
Growing up on the Tuolumne River instilled a deep and ever-growing passion for helping the environment within me. I am a 19 year old biology and environmental science major at Modesto Junior College, located in the central valley of California, and my biggest hobby is doing whatever I can to help the environment. This year, I took it upon myself to become an apprentice ecologist, help preserve the biodiversity of the Tuolumne River, and educate youth by building six wood duck boxes, mounting three, and donating three to a local youth group. At first, I knew nothing about making nest boxes. After doing some research, I decided to make them for wood ducks since they rely on artificial nests due to increasing deforestation, and although they are no longer endangered, I had seen very few of them during my eight concurrent years on the river. Wood ducks are distinctive and beautiful creatures, especially the males. I found it hard to accept that they almost went extinct in the late 19th century; the nests continue to stand as a tribute to their on-going survival.
Unfortunately, I have not enjoyed the delicacy of finding very many like-minded people in Waterford who share my desire to help the environment in their spare time. But fortunately, as with several other instances, I convinced my step-father, Steve, to help me on this environmental endeavor. We complied our resources, pine wood, steel rods, fasteners and screws from sustainable sources. The construction of these six wood duck boxes was definitely a learning experience for me. I had never used a saw, and scarcely used my step-fathers electrical screwdriver. Regardless, before long I was insisting that he let me do most of the work. After starting, we spent many evenings throughout the months of February and March in the garage cutting wood and constructing boxes in hopes of helping the wood ducks.
Come April, we finished construction and headed out to the Tuolumne to mount three of the six boxes. We chose sites near the water and within view of our home; we were excited to monitor the boxes. By using a ¬post-digger, I carefully dug narrow holes to place the posts of the boxes, and then I used a level to ensure that they were straight before I secured them with the initial dirt that had been there. Next, I filled the box with some shavings to provide a base nest for the ducks. After the boxes were in place, I began to look for a place for the next three. I wanted to donate them to a local youth group, and was ecstatic when I was able to contact the Waterford Pathfinders, somewhat of a boy scouts organization affiliated with the local Seventh Day Adventists Church. They excitedly received the duck boxes. I was so happy to be able to provide them with an opportunity to connect with and make a positive difference in a natural habitat. The boxes turned out to be a success, with at least two out of the six hosting mates this year alone. By promoting biodiversity and engaging youth, I hope that I have improved the environment in my own small way for many years to come.
The Tuolumne River, along with every other remaining natural landscape, ought to be cherished, protected and enjoyed. Their inherent worth can be a locus of wonder for all of us to enjoy, including future generations. Unfortunately, due to overpopulation and overconsumption, the Tuolumne River and habitats alike have been continuously exploited for use of their water, trees, land and other intrinsically and instrumentally valuable resources. The water level in the river remains consistently low every year—with some stretches a mere two feet deep—and wildlife has no doubt suffered. The lack of wood ducks is just one example. I enjoyed making the wood duck boxes as a testament to the importance of their longevity.
If I know anything certain about the environment, it is the fact that we—and I mean “we” as in all humans and other species—are all connected. As humans, we depend on other species to provide for us. While preserving and caring for the environment, we are in turn helping ourselves and showing self-respect; this is a crucial fact that must be taught to not only future generations, but current generations as well. During this project, I learned that I have a lot of power within myself. If I want to do something, then I should not hesitate; anything is possible. Whether I stand alone, with my parents, or with my community behind me, I can make a positive difference.
Date: June 19, 2014 Views: 7447 File size: 22.5kb, 2949.5kb : 2748 x 3664
Hours Volunteered: 80
Volunteers: 2
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 19 & 50
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 0.4
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