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Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Déjà vu ??

Before I retired in 2006, I was the principal of a large alternative school in Rochester, MN.  There were a lot of requirements for students to qualify to attend an alternative school in Minnesota, and one of them was to be at risk for graduation from high school.  Students with a criminal record qualified almost immediately.  As I made my way to work at the Visitors Center this morning, it was almost like a step back in time.  You see, a small group of young men and a young lady from the county had been assigned community service time to help the refuge clean up the gardens around the VC. 

It’s a long and varied story how I ended up in alternative education, but today reminded me why I enjoyed it so.  These young folks are real people who’ve had some real challenges in their lives, and made mistakes, but are trying to work things out.  I can tell you that they did one bang up of a job today.  With the sequestration and cuts in staff, there just aren’t enough people to keep the facilities up to snuff as they were maintained in the past.  A couple of volunteers can only do so much.  They weed whacked, mowed, pulled weeds, raked, and got the grounds looking spiffy.  They were happy to do it, as they said, “It sure beats picking up trash along the highways!” 

Fellow volunteer Lynn was in charge of this brigade, and she did a marvelous job getting them to take pride in their work for the community.  I can tell you that my back was sure aching after all the weed pulling. 

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While the ‘crew’ went for lunch, Lynn and I took a walk down the trail to find some early spring flowers blooming.  She said these were a variety of phlox.  I remember picking phlox blossoms as a kid, and sucking the sweetness out of the flower stems.  Can you tell that we had some more rain showers today?

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We also came upon this pretty little bell shaped flower.  Don’t know what it is, but I’m sure she’ll figure it out.  After all of the cold weather we’ve had, it sure was nice to see something blooming.

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Once the clean up was done, I headed for the refuge to take a drive around Shoveler Pond.  Lots of roseate spoonbills resting in their favorite place along with egrets and a bunch of gadwall and coots.

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                        I also came upon a young white-faced ibis that was being stalked by a snowy egret.

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That egret was following right behind the ibis.  As the ibis probed into the muck and mire, the egret took advantage of any little fish that were disturbed.

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I guess there’s more than one way to ‘skin a cat’!  What an interesting relationship between these two species.

I have the next three days off, and I’m hoping to finally see the sun again.  How nice would that be?

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

23 comments:

  1. I had a chance to work with some at-risk youth from a boy's military school in South Texas last year, and they were hard-working and respectful. They did a great job on a difficult, physical project. Here at the state park, they bring in a group of girls most weekdays from a nearby detention facility.They do everything from cleaning bathrooms, to stacking firewood, to trimming trails and are also great workers. I hope that their experience in the park enriches their lives.

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  2. I got a kick out of seeing snowy egrets do their "thing" with ducks as well over at Ding Darling. Such opportunists they are. Glad that 'alternative' kids have people like you around. I had an alternative kid at one time, now an incredibly successful adult.

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  3. So nice to see some flowers! Good to hear that the kids enjoyed their day..as you know picking up trash gets old:)

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  4. I experienced kids from a detention center when I worked at Ft. Pulaski. They seemed to be polite and I enjoyed dealing with them, but the guards who accompanied them were really hard-asses. I'm surprised they didn't have guns drawn at all times. I hope your days off are warm and sunny!

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  5. Hats off to you. That's a job that was worth doing. You and Emma have earned the life you have.

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  6. So, that is where all the spoonbills are..... We have not seen that many down her in Florida. Good on ya- for your work with those kids.

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  7. The bell-shaped flower is a native clematis. It is possibly Clematis crispa considering your location. I have worked with "JD" teens before. You will never meet a harder working group of young folks.

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  8. There is a training center (Job Corps?) near Aroostook NWR way up in Maine. Most are inner-city kids who've never been away from asphalt in their lives. The Refuge contracts the carpenter shop to make kiosks etc, and at times a group will come to the refuge to make new trails. There is a lot less vandalism on/near the refuge when the kids take some ownership in what goes on around them. Glad to hear other refuges welcome them as well.

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  9. The sun is "suppose" to be come out today. We did have a sunny lovely afternoon yesterday.
    Is your little flower a Clematis pitcherii?

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  10. Lovely blossoms!! Taking apart weeds is a great job!!

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  11. Your first flower is a verbena. Our front yard is full of bluebonnets!!! I just wonder if we will be here to see them bloom.

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  12. Love you flower pics with the water droplets. A whole flock of spoonbills - be still my heart! I sure hope those kids can each find their place in this rough uncaring society and that they will have understanding people like you in their lives to help them do it. I just sizzle thinking about all the money we spend on wars and corporate welfare and the poor and disadvantaged are left to "pull up their bootstraps" when some of them have no boots. Wonderful work you did! Congrats to your group of weeders on creating more beauty there at the refuge.

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  13. I'm about as good with flowers as I am with birds - that's be zero help. Hope you get some sunshine and warm weather soon.

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  14. You never cease to amaze me Judy--what an interesting life you have led! Love the roseate spoonbill photo!

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  15. You have a real good outlook on the young people trying hard to get their lives back on track. How difficult it is to get past some of the mistakes of youth! All too often, we lose sight of the fact that these younger folks are people just like most of us, but they are paying for some dreadful mistakes that they've made in their lives. Glad they could help out there, and do a great job. Love all of the beautiful bird photos, Judy. You sure do capture some of the best! Good shooting!!

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  16. I think those Rosegates are thumbing their bills at me! What a cool photo!

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  17. Hi Judy....I have used all my broadband time so I haven't been on the computer much. Joe is at the dermatologist and the free WiFi hear is great.

    Spoonbills are on my list of "to see"...that was a great picture with so many. Love how the ibis and egret "worked" together.

    It's also refreshing to hear about teens working! And enjoying it...

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  18. Your pictures of the birds are wonderful and remind me that like the ibis and the snowy egret, relationships are often symbiotic. I'm glad that you enjoyed those teens who were helping at the refuge today.

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  19. My brother's step son attended an "alternative school", and so did our nephew..Best thing that ever happened to them both.. Judy, I could for sure see you enjoying those kids...They need peeps like you who are natural teachers in everything they do...Love the Roseate Spoonbills...(I'm right, right?)

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  20. See, your previous life has come in handy. Great to see kids working to get back on track and doing a good job. You done good! :c)

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  21. That little purple bell flower is Clematis pitcheri, one of my favorite flowers. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has a huge plant growing on a trellis in the first courtyard. I was really excited to see it come back after Ike. I found several vines in the Skillern Tract.

    And you reminded me of two of my favorite "volunteers". We had community service people who came and worked as a group. After we got snowed out and had so many trees left to plant, plus all the newly planted trees to water. I also had 60 mulberry trees to pot up. - High Island offered them to us and a couple of us had dug them up. One of the guys knew how to pot them up and he managed one group will another couple of guys and I hauled water to the planted trees. Another guy came by himself and really worked his tail off cutting down Baccharis to find our poor, dying willows. He told me that the work we were doing seemed so much more meaningful that the trash pickup he'd done for most of his hours and that he wished he could have spent all his hours on the refuge.

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  22. Nice Post.Thanks for Sharing this in your Blog

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