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March 17, 2010 > Ohlone Humane Society: Does Anyone Really See Any Change Happening?

Ohlone Humane Society: Does Anyone Really See Any Change Happening?

Angela M. Hartman
Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator
Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Yes, we do! What do you get when you take 12 Irvington High School Freshman Change Project students, a neglected garden, and the enthusiasm to help urban wildlife? You get an awe-inspiring group of students who produce a self-sustaining urban wildlife garden for our wild feathered and four legged friends!

In November, 2009, I was asked to be the consultant for three separate Change Project groups who wanted to make a difference for urban wildlife at the Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Newark. Our first group of students wanted to design and implement an anti-noise pollution garden around the back perimeter of our wildlife rehabilitation center. The group felt that the animals at the rehabilitation center deserved to have peace and quiet while in recovery. I thought to myself, unless they are going to build a brick wall around our facility there is no way of preventing excessive noise pollution.

The student's brilliant plan did not use cement, wood, or bricks; it utilized plants and trees. What the students found is by using trees and shrubs they could reduce the noise level by 10 decibels. These students spent many hours planting all California native plants and trees in the new garden. Strategic placement of trees and shrubs creates a natural barrier against urban noise. This project had an even greater - unforeseen - impact by also providing native plants as food and shelter for a variety of resident and migratory local urban wildlife.

Our second Change Project group wanted to rally around a California wildlife species in need. They chose the California Northern Flicker. California Northern Flickers are on the decline due to the loss of their natural habitat. The students' answer to this issue was to build and install Northern Flicker boxes by hand, which create additional nesting shelters for these beautiful birds. I emphasized to them that building these large nesting boxes or structures would involve a great deal of muscle power. Yet with no hesitation, the students put on their tool belts, rolled up their sleeves, and built two nesting boxes. Now all we need is for a couple of mating pair of our feathered friends to move in.

The third Change Project group had a mission to save the Monarch Butterfly. The objective of this project was to create a butterfly nursery area in the center's garden. The students' research found that Monarchs require certain species of plants which allow them to reproduce and continue their survival. Their project included designing the plant layout for the garden and planting specific flowers from seed. One specific plant, the Milkweed, is the most important to the Monarch. Milkweed plants provide the required habitat for Monarchs to reproduce and surrounding plants incorporated into the garden provide necessary food and shelter.

Who would have thought that 12 young people could make such a difference? These students, through volunteering, dedicated many hours out of their very busy school schedules for our urban wildlife in need. More importantly, they are learning the skills of personal and social responsibility, citizenship, and communication. This opportunity allowed the students to make a personal investment in their community that does so much to support and provide for all of us. They are amazing individuals.

Come see how we are changing the world of wildlife at our 2010 Annual Open House on May 1st from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.. Everyone is welcome and the event is free. We will provide behind the scenes tours of our hospital, introduce our education animals, and provide nature craft activities for the kids.

For more information go to or email us at The Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is located at 37175 Hickory Street in Newark.

Please call our advice line if you have questions or concerns about injured or orphaned wildlife at 510-797-9449. We are open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. accepting all California native wildlife that may be injured or orphaned.

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