Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Community Highlight: Janet Anderson

Responses by Janet Anderson, Pepperwood Steward

How long have you been a Steward, Tracker, or Volunteer with Pepperwood?
I was in the first class of Bio 85 at SRJC in 2009-10. The curriculum had just been developed by UC,  and each week we were asked to evaluate the lesson. It was all fairly new to me so I gave each class the highest rating! I became a steward in 2010.

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became interested in Pepperwood. What keeps you motivated?
I grew up in what is now Silicon Valley (Menlo Park), basically an urban environment, with Summer family vacations to the Northern California Redwoods where my father was born. I started hiking and backpacking only after my kids left for college.

Janet with some of her paintings.
I first came to Pepperwood for a landscape painting class through SRJC. I experienced the quiet beauty and open landscapes while painting for two weeks. On the last day, the class had an “art show” in the field at Bechtel House, and all the Pepperwood staff came, including Steve Barnhart, who announced the new Field Biology class at SRJC. I enrolled that Fall; every season since has deepened my understanding of field biology and ecology. 

What projects have you worked on?
When I started looking for a steward project, Michael G. asked me and a student volunteer to help him unpack some wildlife cameras and place them outside. Gradually we gained some expertise, and we invited various consultants to help us with strategies for capturing the wildlife we knew was always here. Pepperwood was already on a research track, and although this project was mainly a survey, we learned how to archive photos for a data base, along with keeping field notes. My current camera partner is Pam Horton.

Working in the herbarium.
I began working with fellow Bio 85 student Amber Huntington, also in Fall 2010, and she introduced me to the Herbarium and collecting and mounting plants for the new Pepperwood Flora. This is my fifth season, and we see definite evidence of climate change: fewer plants in bloom and a later, quicker season due to the dry January. 

Also I enjoy helping with the hikes and classes and meeting all the people who take part in Pepperwood activities.

What are three words that describe Pepperwood to you?
Cerulean Blue, Sap Green, Raw Sienna.

A completed pressing for the herbarium collection.
What does your experience at Pepperwood mean to you?
After I retired (from 30 years as a Speech Language Pathologist), or even before, I wondered what I would do. For awhile I took French and painting classes but I felt I was just wasting time. I even returned to work part-time. After two years as a Laguna Docent working with children, I discovered Pepperwood, and it was a perfect fit for me. I am always learning new things, making lasting friendships, and spending time in a most beautiful and inspiring environment.

What’s the most surprising thing you've learned or seen at Pepperwood?

Certainly the most exciting thing to me are the images we continue to capture with the wildlife cameras. I will never forget the first mountain lion, the first bear, and the cubs. And all the other little creatures who run in and out of view.
Janet with one of the wildlife cameras.

What’s the one thing you’d want to share with someone who is thinking about volunteering?
I don’t have a science background and I still stumble with terminology and identifications. But gradually I have learned so much about the natural world! Everyone with an interest in nature will find a project at Pepperwood.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

When I am not at Pepperwood, I paint, work in the garden, hike and exercise, spend time with my children and grandchildren (who all have been to Pepperwood); I am a beginning piano student and practice every day. If there is any spare time after that, I read.

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

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