July 3, 2007

Sacramento State answers call of the wild

Mountain on a spring day with a running stream.
The splendor of Desolation Wilderness is one of the highlights of field trips offered through Sacramento State this summer.
The lure of the great outdoors is especially strong this time of year, and Sacramento State makes it even easier for anyone to enjoy nature’s wonders.

Three courses featuring nature field trips along with classroom sessions are available from the Osher Lifelong Learning Program, a package of courses offered through the College of Continuing Education and geared toward those 50 years of age or older.

Professional geologist James Jensen will lead his class on a trip to the Sutter Buttes near Marysville and then over to Clear Lake as part of the Geology of Sacramento and Northern California course.

A geologist for 35 years, Jensen says he wants his students to know what they’re seeing when they drive around the region and what it means for the potential of earthquake and volcanic risks, or the possible presence of oil and mineral deposits. “That’s the kind of thing I’m going to try to cover in this class,” says Jensen. “What’s the basic geology. What do we see at the surface and what does that mean underground.”

Chris Conard’s students will be encouraged to keep their eye on the birdie with a bird watching class. Students will learn how to identify birds from their size, structure, behavior and bill shape, and what kinds of birds they can expect to find in the area. “We have more than 300 species that have been recorded right here in Sacramento,” says Conard.

Bird watching has become a popular pastime because, unlike other animals, birds don’t try to hide, says Conard. Many of them will sit out in the open and even those that remain deep inside vegetation still call out with their songs.

Recently retired Sacramento State professor Bill Finch is teaching his students how to plan, prepare for and participate in day hiking or overnight trips into the mountains. His classes conclude with a day trip to the Desolation Wilderness Area.

“I try and cover everything so the first-timers will have the knowledge and a sense of personal confidence to enter the wilderness. I want them to be safe and enjoy it,” says Finch. Students learn what type of equipment and clothing they need, and also what to expect in the way of geography, vegetation and wildlife. The course will be offered at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Aug. 2-16, at the senior center at 664 Cummins Way in West Sacramento with a field trip on Aug. 18. The fee is $45.

The geology course begins July 12 with a series of lectures in Napa Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays, followed by the field trip on July 26. Cost is $45.

The bird watching class runs from 6 to 8 p.m. on July 12 and 19. The classroom sessions in Napa Hall will be followed with a field trip from 7 to 11 a.m. on July 21. The site has yet to be determined. Cost is $20.

Active classes are definitely the more popular of Osher’s offerings, which also include origami, conversational Spanish, cartooning, meditation techniques, and chocolate, says program Director Amy Ruddell.

“My goal is to offer classes that will develop learning processes for the mind, the body and the soul,” says Ruddell. Courses are also offered off-campus in areas such as Folsom and West Sacramento. Anyone wishing to take part in these, or other Osher classes, may call program manager Amy Ruddell at (916) 278-4822, or contact her at www.cce.csus.edu/osher. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.