Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Community Highlight - Pam Horton

Responses by Pam Horton, Pepperwood Steward

Pam Horton, Pepperwood Steward
How long have you been a Steward, Tracker, or Volunteer with Pepperwood?
I started on the path to become a steward in the Fall of 2009 when I enrolled in the Santa Rosa Junior College class Bio 85.1 (Pepperwood Natural History:  Physical Environment).  In the Spring of 2010, I continued with Bio 85.2 (Pepperwood Natural History:  Biotic Environment).  These courses were phenomenal – extremely interesting and taught by fantastic instructors. They introduced me to new areas of interest that I have continued to pursue. I also was certified as a California Naturalist at the completion of this coursework. After completing the Bio 85 classes I became a Steward Intern for one year, working on various projects on the preserve, and then graduated as a full Pepperwood Steward in the summer of 2011.

 Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became interested in Pepperwood. What keeps you motivated?
I have been interested in nature from the time I was a young child. My grandparents owned a 22,000 acre cattle ranch in Lake County and we spent summers there until the ranch was sold when I was about 10 years old. I spent many hours exploring the property and investigating the plants and animals that lived there. After my grandfather passed away, my grandmother sold the property in Lake County and purchased property in the Napa Valley, where I continued my explorations of the natural world.

I found out about Pepperwood Preserve from Steve Barnhart when I was working and taking classes at Santa Rosa Junior College and decided that this was where I wanted to volunteer when I retired, which I did in the summer of 2009.

Being at Pepperwood, with its incredible expanse and vistas, recaptures a part of my Lake County experience. Pepperwood is very special in its own right and also brings back wonderful memories of the past. Every time I come to Pepperwood I feel privileged to be there.

Pam working in the demonstration garden.
What projects have you worked on?
One of the first projects I worked on was an acorn monitoring project. We constructed and installed acorn traps under various Oregon oaks in the area of Redwood Canyon to monitor their patterns of acorn production. I also have been involved in projects to collect and propagate the seeds of native grasses. Currently I am working on two different projects. One project, which started during my year of internship, involves placing motion activated cameras in different parts of the preserve to identify the wildlife that inhabit those areas. I also have been actively involved in planting and maintaining the demonstration garden at the Dwight Center.

What are three words that describe Pepperwood to you?
Beauty, tranquility, rejuvenation

Pam helping collect native grass seeds.

What does your experience at Pepperwood mean to you?
At Pepperwood I am able to reconnect with the natural world in a way that cannot be done anywhere else in the relatively near vicinity of Santa Rosa, where I live. The beauty of the environment, the peace and quiet, and the insulation from the sounds of traffic and human activity rejuvenate me and put me back in touch with what is important in my life.

What’s the most surprising thing you've learned or seen at Pepperwood?
Because of my involvement in the mobile remote camera project, what has surprised me the most is to discover the incredible variety and numbers of wildlife on the preserve that are seldom seen by us. I have walked one particular trail for years, never seeing most of the animals that we have captured with our cameras.

What’s the one thing you’d want to share with someone who is thinking about volunteering?
I think volunteering at Pepperwood is an incredible opportunity to enjoy the beauty of a very special environment and to meet wonderful people who are committed to protecting this area and to encouraging others to appreciate the wonders of the natural world.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
What I like to do the most is to be outdoors – hiking, walking my dog and doing agility training with her, gardening, and enjoying my family home in the Napa Valley, where I also keep bees. I love to travel and I love to read, novels and mostly books on natural history.

 --- Interested in volunteering? Check our website for more information.

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