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Laguna Foundation Public Education Events

2017 Schedule

Reimagining Nature:
The Development of Ecological Consciousness in the U.S.

Presentation with Dr. John Smihula

Thursday, April 27, 7:00-8:30pm
Location: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(non-refundable). Pre-registration required (see below).

"What is the future of environmentalism?” is an urgent question today—and we will address it, as we must. But our focus will be on the past of environmentalism. It did not originate with the founding of the nation, nor did it suddenly burst on the scene with the first Earth Day in 1970; rather, it developed, despite formidable obstacles, as a movement and moral imperative, over time, beginning in the early 19th century and reaching its zenith with the mass of environmental and consumer protection legislation passed in the 1960s and ‘70s. Thus this talk tries to explain, ecologically, why we are where we are. Accordingly, we will contextualize American environmentalism, and its successes and failures, cross-culturally and internationally by considering European antecedents, Native American traditions, and the biocentric perspective of Eastern philosophy. The talk will feature art, poetry, music, a clip from a classic Western film, and a special guest appearance by Godzilla.

John Smihula has a Ph.D. in English Literature and taught literature, film, composition, ESL, and humanities for twenty years at several institutions, primarily the University of Nevada, Reno. A central interest has been ecocriticism and environmental literature, particularly the writings of Henry David Thoreau, Edward Abbey, and Gary Snyder. Dr. Smihula has also worked as a counselor to at-risk youth and to adults in the mental health system in New York and San Francisco, co-shot an ethnological documentary on art and ritual in Melanesia, and produced and directed an award-winning political documentary about the School of the Americas and U.S. foreign policy in Latin America.


Day of the Child / Dia Del Niño: Family, Nature, & Fun
Special Laguna Environmental Center Open House

Saturday, April 29, 11:00am-3:00pm
Location: Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
FREE. No RSVP necessary.

Bring the whole family for fun, hands-on activities about wetlands and the plants and animals of the Laguna watershed. Join us for pond water explorations, bird watching, field journaling, weaving with plant fibers, nature games and crawling through a living willow tree tunnel in the nature playground! Picnic tables available. Our friends from the Center for Climate Protection will have their pedal-powered Smoothie Bike that you can try, and there will be an interactive table from the local Milo Baker Chapter of the California Native Plant Society.

This event is sponsored by SEEC, the Sonoma Environmental Education Collaborative. Twelve wonderful sites around Sonoma County will be open for families to get outside and enjoy nature together. Visit the SEEC website to see all the special sites and organizations participating around the county. The Day of the Child event will end with an amazing concert by Zun Zun. The concert will take place at Roseland Village Neighborhood Center from 4 to 5:30 pm.

The goal of SEEC’s Day of the Child/ Dia Del Niño event is to connect all of community’s diverse local families with the vast outdoor recreation and education opportunities of our great County. Our area has so much to offer, we hope this day will expose folks to new areas to explore. It will be a fabulous day to have fun with your kids and get outside!


Writing the Watershed: Poetry and Prose
Workshop with Elizabeth Herron

Saturday, May 6, 10:00am-4:30pm
Location: Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$85. Pre-registration required
(see below).

Whether you consider yourself a writer or simply enjoy putting words down in a journal or naturalist’s notebook, if you are interested in a deeper connection to our Sonoma County landscape, this writing workshop is open to you. We will start with a centering exercise and end with a closing circle. In between, Elizabeth will talk about the craft of writing, there will be writing exercises, time outside in the paradise of the Laguna in spring, and time to share our writing with each other. Participants will strengthen their engagement with the watershed and practice grounding their writing in the details of the natural world. Whether you write prose or poetry, this workshop will give you a more intimate experience of the Laguna de Santa Rosa and an opportunity to improve your writing skills.

Elizabeth Carothers Herron spent her childhood rambling woods, fields and shorelines, and grew up loving the outdoors. When the Dunsmuir Spill was reported in 1991, she felt called to witness the disaster. (“It wasn’t the Exxon Valdez or the Cuyahoga River, it was our river, right here.”) She walked the banks of the Sacramento River where 19,000 gallons of metam sodium had seared the riparian corridor and killed everything in the water from Cantara Loop to Lake Shasta. For the next ten years, her writing centered almost entirely on ecological subjects; and she developed and taught, Ecological Identity, the first Arts & Humanities GE course in ecology at SSU. Elizabeth is the author of four poetry chapbooks, a book of short fiction, and articles on art and ecology. Her poems appear most recently in over a dozen literary magazines, including Arroyo, West Marin Review, Lindenwood, Free State Review and Reflections. Her prose has been published in Ions, Orion, Parabola, Jung Journal and currently Center for Humans & Nature’s “Questions for a Resilient Future”. She lives on the hem of the Atascadero in the Russian River watershed.


Nestward Migration: Docent-led walks to the nesting colony at Delta Pond
Sunday, May 7, 2017
Choose your start time: 8:00am OR 9:00am
$15 per person. Pre-registration required
(see below).

Join the fun of this annual trek to the Double-crested Cormorant nesting site on the banks of the Laguna. By May 7 we will likely see everything from courtship displays, nest building, egg-sitting, and maybe even peek-in on chicks while watching parents hustle to keep up with hungry mouths to feed. All the sights and sounds of the rookery are exciting! Other possible treats include sightings of American White Pelicans, Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle, and many other birds of prey. Bring friends and family out for a joyful morning experience! This event benefiting the Learning Laguna bus scholarship program is always a sell-out so register early! Approximately 3-mile walk over flat, uneven terrain. Full details emailed upon registration.

Select Time


Laguna Environmental Center Open House
Celebrating Spring and Our Native Plant Garden
Location: Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Saturday, May 13, 10:00am-4:00pm
FREE (donations gratefully accepted). No RSVP required for the Open House.

AND, California Native Plant Society’s Native Plant Sale
As part of the Sonoma County and North Marin Eco-Friendly Garden Tour
Their garden tour is FREE, but registration is required through Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership

Stop by the Laguna Environmental Center for this special Saturday Open House, celebrating spring and our native plant garden. We will have fun and engaging activities for all ages. Enjoy the Children’s Playscape. Look for Bald Eagles through the binoculars or watch nesting Bluebirds through the spotting scope. Try your hand at weaving a tule “fish,” or create a leaf-rubbing to take home. Our Laguna Guides and Docents will be on hand to show you around the native plant garden or give you a tour of historic Stone Farm. It will be a great opportunity to see the newest Heron Hall exhibit, “FAUNA” Paintings and Mosaics by Stacey Schuett and to visit our natural history and Laguna-oriented gift shop. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the views from our picnic tables outside Heron Hall. 

Our friends with the Milo Baker Chapter of the California Native Plant Society will also be here selling native plants as part of the Sonoma County and North Marin “Eco-Friendly Garden Tour.” Learn about water-saving and wildlife-supporting native plants. Buy a few to take home, thereby supporting our local California Native Plant Society chapter while nurturing local wildlife habitat in your own backyard!


Spring Fling: A Hike and Picnic in the Wilds of the Laguna!
Laguna de Santa Rosa - Past, Present, and Future
Natural History Talk and Walk with Denise Cadman
Friday, May 19, 5:30-8:30pm
Beginning at Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
FREE. Pre-registration required through LandPaths.
Suitable for all ages. Families welcome.

Join us for a walk on the wild side. You’ll learn a little about the City of Santa Rosa’s recycled water program on a working farm (Stone Farm, home of the Laguna Environmental Center). Then, we will carpool to and explore the 100 acre natural area on the City’s Alpha Farm, enjoying the last beautiful hours before sunset. Bring a picnic dinner to enjoy on the bank of the Laguna de Santa Rosa. Our walk will be casual, stopping to talk and looking for wildlife. We will make our way back just before it gets dark and should arrive back to the Laguna Environmental Center by 8:30pm.

The Laguna is a 254 square mile watershed with over 50 named creeks draining the Santa Rosa plain from Windsor to Forestville. The Laguna is a mosaic of habitats with a high species biodiversity, with endemic and rare species. Management is complicated by a history of altering ecosystem function and diverse land use today, including the majority of Sonoma County’s population. This talk will focus on why the health of the Laguna is important and projects that are helping to improve it.

Denise Cadman is the Environmental Specialist for the City of Santa Rosa. This position involves managing 1,500 acres of irrigated and natural area land in the Laguna de Santa Rosa; planting creek corridors, removing invasive species, conducting studies and performing long-term surveys on plants, birds and mammals. An education program compliments these efforts. Denise grew up in the wilds of Rincon Valley and received her BA, secondary teaching credential and MA from the biology department of Sonoma State University. She teaches at Santa Rosa Junior College as an adjunct faculty member in the Life Science Department in addition to working for the City of Santa Rosa and she and her husband operate a draft horse powered family farm in the Laguna de Santa Rosa. Denise attributes her career in natural resource management to a love of bird watching.

This free program is made possible through a partnership between the Laguna Foundation, LandPaths and the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. The District permanently protects the diverse agricultural, natural resource and scenic open space lands of Sonoma County for future generations. It is funded through a quarter-cent sales tax that was voted in by the residents of Sonoma County. 


Art Exhibit Opening Reception

"FAUNA" Paintings and Mosaics by Stacey Schuett
Saturday, May 20, 3:00-5:00pm
Location: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
FREE, no RSVP required.

Stop by to see our newest Heron Hall art exhibit, a beautiful and whimsical mixed media show of paintings and mosaics by local artist, Stacey Schuett. Meet the artist, meander in and out of the hall while enjoying the views and native plant garden. Drinks and light snacks provided.

This exhibit will be on display in Heron Hall May 5 through August 29, 2017. Exhibit details and artist statement coming soon to our Art Exhibits webpage, and can be found now on our Facebook page. Hope to see you May 20th!



Spring Birding in the Laguna
Bird Watching Adventures with Lisa Hug
May 21, 8:30am-1:00pm
(last in the series)
Beginning at the Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$45. Pre-registration required
(see below). Geared towards adults and older teens. 
Moderate to heavy rain cancels (in which case we'd refund your money).

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. 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.

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.

May 21



Close-Up and Macro Photography
Workshop with professional photographers Susan and Neil Silverman
Saturday, June 3, 8:00am-3:30pm
Location: Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Suitable for adults and teens (teens must be accompanied by an adult).
$85.  Pre-registration required
(see below).

What is the difference between the “usual” good photo and an exciting, different and intriguing image? You got it, Macro and Close-up photography!!! It can open a whole new world to your photo experience, your vision and your creativity. So often we don’t stop to “smell the roses,” and often we don’t stop to really see that “rose.” This workshop will open your eyes and change your perspective to find some new and beautiful ways of experiencing the Laguna and life around you. You might find yourself lost in a whole new world; and you did not have to fall down the rabbit hole! We will have a two-hour lecture, demonstration and discussion on the techniques and challenges with close-up photography (it takes a little more than just moving your feet in close), and then we will go out and about in the theater of the Laguna with our cameras and photograph this new wide world around you. Near the end of the workshop, we will return to Heron Hall and share images and results. Participants bring their own lunch. Hot drinks and snacks are provided.

Susan and Neil Silverman are a husband-wife team who have taught and photographed together for over twenty years. Their passion behind the lens is transmitted not only through their images, but to their students as well. They have been leading their own workshops for over ten years and taught for Great American Photography Workshops for ten years; have taught for Better, Santa Fe School, PPA affiliates, PPC, B&H Photo, Pacific North West Art School, Gualala Art Center, Santa Rosa Junior College, and many more. Although they are well versed in Photoshop and Lightroom, they believe in getting the image in the camera. They love teaching and watching their students have that “Aha” moment of learning how to capture a wonderful photo. They forever seek "the Image, the Light, and the Moment" through their camera lens and their life experiences. Photography is fun, exciting and an ever-changing environment and they work hard to keep their finger on the pulse of the beat of the times. A photo can be good or great; and they believe in putting the "extra" in front of ordinary. Visit their website.


Full-Moon Exploration of Irwin Creek and Lower Stone Farm
Natural History Walk and Picnic with Kevin Munroe
Friday, June 9, 5:30pm-9:00pm
Beginning at the Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$30. Pre-registration required (see below).

Join us for this special full-moon evening adventure, including a picnic dinner alongside the Laguna in an area not usually open to the public. Bring your own picnic, and we'll provide the hors d’oeuvres, dessert and hot drinks! On this 1.5 to 2 mile walk, over mostly flat but uneven terrain, we’ll explore the beautiful area’s animal and plant life and learn about the history of Stone Farm and the on-going collaborative restoration work that’s bringing back a thriving ecosystem. We'll also focus on the critters large and small that come out at dusk and the plants used in restoration work that support wildlife, water quality, and us all. Starting in Heron Hall with hors d’oeuvres and a brief presentation, we'll head out for a leisurely amble across the picturesque hay field to Irwin Creek, and across Sanford Rd. to quiet Lower Stone Farm and the Laguna channel, where we'll enjoy our picnic dinners (tarps to sit on provided). We'll start heading back after sunset, keeping our ears and eyes open for resident owls, coyotes, egrets, river otters, mink, frogs, bats and any other emerging evening wildlife. Back at cozy Heron Hall, we'll enjoy yummy dessert and hot drinks. Suitable for adults and youth 9 years old and up (children must be accompanied by an adult). Heavy/significant rain cancels (in which case, you'd receive a full refund). Details sent upon registration.

Kevin Munroe is the Laguna Foundation’s Executive Director. Kevin developed his passion as a naturalist in early childhood and subsequently transformed this interest into a rich career that includes conservation resource management, restoration, and environmental education. Among his accomplishments was leading a 50-acre wetland restoration project within Huntley Meadows Park, a well-known park in Fairfax County's Potomac River Watershed, roughly 12 miles NE of Washington, D.C. In his diverse career, Kevin has excelled in building community partnerships, diversifying fundraising activities, and working with a variety of public and private agencies that include the Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Services, the Audubon Society, and more.


Make an Open-Weave Rush Basket
Workshop with Charlie Kennard
Sunday, August 6, 9:30am-3:30pm
Location: Heron Hall, Laguna Environmental Center, 900 Sanford Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
$85. Pre-registration required (see below).

Enjoy a delightful day full of hands-on learning in Heron Hall and around the peaceful Laguna Environmental Center grounds with master weaver, Charlie Kennard. We will weave a southern California style bowl-shaped basket that has several unusual features, including having all the weft ends finish at the rim. Participants will have a choice of rush (Juncus) species to twine with, one being very large. All basket-making materials are included in the registration fee. Participants bring large scissors, a water bowl, small towel, and their lunch. Hot drinks and snacks are provided.

Charlie Kennard of San Anselmo is a long-time basket weaver and student of California Indian and European techniques. He has taught for 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 the one in Heron Hall! You can also visit a basketry plant garden he created at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross, where he and four friends recently wove a basket 13 feet in diameter. Charlie is active in native habitat restoration in Marin, managing several projects for Friends of Corte Madera Creek Watershed.


Also on tap in 2017. . . Stay tuned for details!

  • Laguna Headwaters Walk in Cotati with Jenny Blaker and Michael Knappmann, June 17
  • Drawing Nature, colored pencil workshop with Nina Antze, June 24
  • Watershed Perspectives, Shady Creeks walk, July 15
  • Storytelling with Ane Carla Rovetta, July 22
  • Watershed Perspectives, Shady Creeks walk, August 12
  • Clint and Lucy McKay talk and basket weaving demonstration, September 7
  • Full-Moon Irwin Creek Walk, with Kevin Munroe, September 8
  • Groundwater talk with Marcus Trotta, September 14
  • Opening Reception for Dave Strauss' photography exhibit Natural Juxtaposition, September 16
  • Watershed Report with Dr. Wendy Trowbridge, September 21
  • Watercolor Nature Journaling workshop with Kristin Meuser, October 14
  • Earth to Art workshop with Ane Carla Rovetta, October 21
  • Swami Beyondananda comedy show with Steve Bhaerman, November 4
  • Talks about botany, anthropology, reptiles, arachnids, bats, and butterflies
  • Laguna kayaking adventures, hikes and natural history explorations
  • And much, much more!!!

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


CANCELLATION POLICY:  If you are registered for an event and need to cancel, please notify us as soon as possible. Cancellations received more than 14 days in advance of the event date will receive a refund minus a $10.00 processing fee. Cancellations made between 14-7 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 FEES: 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 significant processing fees associated with online registration services such as PayPal. Thank you for your understanding, and thank you for your interest and support of our programs!

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