A few Norris Center summer projects: making new illustrations for a new plant/pollinator calendar, studying nocturnal

insects in the Santa Cruz sandhills, and setting up wildlife cameras to study campus tree squirrel behavior.

With a break from our busy class schedule this summer, we've had a chance to focus on individual student projects and start planning for our upcoming events this Fall. We thought we'd share with you what some of our students are up to this summer as well as what our new Friends of the Norris Center support group has planned for the Fall. Thanks especially to Friends Vice President Susan Monheit for interviewing these students and helping write our summer newsletter. Happy summer everyone!

As one of our student curators over the last two years, Sabrynn Turner has helped us on many projects! From starting as an herbarium intern working with Al Keuter and our community plant crew, Sabrynn is currently working on identifying and sorting stream invertebrates to create a teaching collection for Natural History Field Quarter students to use on location at the UC Natural Reserves they visit each spring.  

In addition to helping taxidermy new mammal specimens, Tea Marquez-Nieblas is working with high school students in UCSC's COSMOS summer science program. Using wildlife cameras, the class is studying the predation behavior of tree squirrels on ground-nesting bird eggs. Tea is excited to help with this project because they recognize the value these transferable skills can have on high school students' imagination and future college choices.

As one of four Norris Center-sponsored CAMINO summer research interns, Lani Magana is studying how ground squirrel behavior differs between human-modified and natural habitats on campus. Using a measure of an animal's boldness called flight initiation distance, Lani will complete a mini-research project, including collecting and analyzing data, writing a research paper, and presenting their findings this fall.

Since Jianjia Gettinger joined the Norris Center community several years ago, she has become an indispensable entomological resource, from helping identify more of the Randall Morgan insect collection to mentoring many other student interns about insect taxonomy. "I am thankful for the opportunities I got through the ENVS department and Norris Center. I learned how to cultivate my curiosity, ask the right questions, and found the determination to answer those questions on my own."

Both Nefret Allen-Cantu and Ty Brown have joined the Norris Center community as our first CAMINO Art-Science summer interns. Both are working with our Art-Science director Juniper Harrower on developing new pollinator educational resources using the Randall Morgan insect and plant collections. Nefret is developing a poster focused on important overlooked pollinators while Ty is creating a calendar with 12 illustrations pairing commonly seen blooming plants and local pollinators. At left is Ty's illustration for July- a local hawkmoth visiting a soaproot flower. Ty’s mission now is to find creative ways to reach their peers through natural history and art. We can't wait to see both of their finished products later this summer!

Be part of the Friends of the Norris Center's inaugural member events!

We hope many of you will join us at two upcoming events this Fall. These free events are open to all Friends of the Norris Center members and their families. More information on becoming a member can be found HERE.

Event 1: Workday at UCSC’s Younger Lagoon Reserve Saturday, October 21, 9 am – 12 noon. We’ll begin the morning with an introduction to the reserve, then team with reserve staff and interns to plant and mulch native plants as we learn about habitat restoration efforts. Register here.

Event 2: Bird Banding Station Visit at UCSC’s Younger Lagoon Reserve Friday, November 3, 8 am-10 am. Get up close and personal with birds! Join us at the Younger Lagoon Reserve on UCSC’s Coastal Science Campus (Long Marine Lab) to observe bird banding in action. 

Each week, a group of student interns, YLR staff, and volunteers run a bird banding station to assess the impacts of habitat restoration efforts on the YLR’s bird populations. This is a unique opportunity to observe birds in hand and learn about this ongoing project. Space is limited and registration is required. Register here.

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