February 24, 2009 by Robin Beckett
With foliage off the trees, winter is a great time to go birding at the Yakima Area Arboretum. This free activity can be a fun outdoor adventure for the entire family.
The Arboretum is a non-profit outdoor museum featuring more than 2,000 different kinds of trees and plants on 46 acres of display gardens and natural areas. It’s located at 1401 Arboretum Drive in Yakima. Access the drive from Nob Hill Boulevard, across from Kmart.
Among the Arboretum’s trees, birders might spot up to two dozen different birds including robins, geese and bald eagles.
If you plan a visit, be sure to bring binoculars, a bird identification book (borrow one from the library), a notebook, pencil and the following checklist. Expect your birding adventure to take at least 60 minutes.
NOTE: Tell the staff if you find any birds not on the list so they can pass the information onto the Yakima Valley Audubon Society, which tracks of these types of things.
All of these birds have been spotted at the Arboretum this winter, and many on the same day. Most can easily be found in the Sparrow Patch located in the compost area in the northeast part of the Arboretum. Birds can be found even with snow on the ground.
HERE’S THE HOW-TO:
1) After parking your car, visit the Jewett Interpretive Center for a self-guided tour map. You might find this helpful.
2) Head towards the Arboretum’s Natural Area and the Yakima Greenway. Look for Canada Geese around the pond. Look also in the trees for the daytime roosting of owls and other birds.
3) Walk on the Greenway trail heading north just until you can spot the river. Look high up in the trees, especially across the river for Bald Eagles. Six were spotted on one day the week before Christmas.
4) Trek a little farther north along the Greenway and look towards Buchanan Lake. Can you find any Red-winged Blackbirds, Canada Geese, Common Loons or Horned Grebes? How about floating platforms with trees and fisherman? The platforms are actually there to encourage nesting habitat for water fowl, not just for giggles.
5) Finally, turn back and head towards the Arboretum’s Natural Area. Take the first path you come to. As you walk along the path look for the Arboretum’s Compost Area on your right. Walking quietly into the compost area you will be amazed at the bird activity. From a distance find the large plastic garbage can (full of bird seed). This is the headquarters for the Arboretum’s Sparrow Patch and is maintained by the volunteers with the Yakima Valley Audubon Society. For the greatest success rate be sure to stand far enough away so you don’t scare the birds. Use the binoculars for identification. Look high in the trees for other predator birds who are also maintaining vigil on the Sparrow Patch such as the Cooper’s Hawk. After your visit feel free to spread more seed for the birds. The birds and the next birders will be thankful you did.
6) After visiting the Sparrow Patch be sure to walk through the Natural Area looking for other birds and critters. Pay special attention to any large tree cavities you see high up in the trees. A Western Screech Owl has made his home in one. Kids might enjoy trying to spot the manmade bird houses too.
7) Notice how the Natural Area looks like a wetland again. The recent snow melt and rise in water levels has brought plenty of water into the Natural Area. For years the Arboretum’s Natural Area was an active wetland with all sorts of wetland critters and ponds. Then, after the gravel pit to the north was turned into Buchanan Lake the Army Corps of Engineers rerouted the drainage for the lake from the Arboretum’s natural area into the Yakima River, bypassing the Arboretum’s wetlands altogether. Now, only during flood type conditions do we see much water in the natural area.
Finally, if there is snow on the ground, look for animal tracks. Kids will love trying to identify the prints that they see, i.e. rabbits, bird, mice, dog and Sasquatch. LOL
9) Enjoy your visit and oh… check out the trees while you visit the Arboretum, too!
– Reprinted with permission from the Yakima Area Arboretum’s January 2009 newsletter.
February 5, 2009 by Robin Beckett
I get quite a few questions from moms who are researching preschools, but I’ve never had the time to do a story about them — and there are so many! Could you help? Add a comment below or send an email telling us about your preschool experience. What you like, what you don’t. Please be honest but keep it clean or I won’t be able to publish your comments. Be sure to include the school’s name; address, phone and website are helpful too.
To get things started, if you’re interested in learning more about the Montessori approach, please read about local mom Debbie Vuillemot’s experience with the Montessori School of Yakima here.
February 4, 2009 by Robin Beckett
When you think of sending your little guy to school in the fall, you might not think of registering him in the spring. However, if your child turns 5 by Aug. 31, take note: Many schools begin kindergarten registration in March.
When you go to register, be sure to a copy of your child’s birth certification and immunization records, along with proof of address, such as a utility bill or rental agreement.
Here’s a round-up of kindergarten registration information for Yakima-area school districts:
East Valley School District | Full-day kindergarten. New this fall, East Valley Intermediate will become East Valley Elementary. Registration at East Valley (573-7600), Terrace Heights (573-7800) and Moxee (573-7700) elementary schools will begin the week of March 23-27. To determine your school boundary, call the district office at 575-7300.
Selah School District | Half-day kindergarten. Parents may request enrollment at either John Campbell or Robert Lince elementary schools. A kindergarten orientation meeting will be at 7 p.m. May 4 at John Campbell Elementary’s Sunset Gym; registration begins May 6. For more information, call 697-0728.
Union Gap School District | Full-day kindergarten. Register at Union Gap School in April. For more information, call 248-3966.
West Valley School District | Full-day kindergarten. A district-wide informational meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 19 at Cottonwood Elementary. Registration begins March 23-27 at your home school; to determine your school boundary, call the district’s transportation department at 966-2403
Yakima School District | Full-day kindergarten. Registration begins March 2-6 at your neighborhood school. Students are required to attend their boundary school; to determine which boundary you live in, call Central Registration at 573-7024 or see the map at yakimaschools.org.
Agapeland Preschool & Kindergarten | Preschool (3 years) through kindergarten. Location: 560 McGonagle Road, Selah. 697-6116. Online: selahcov.com
Grace Lutheran School | Preschool (4 years) through grade 8. Location: 1207 S. Seventh Ave., Yakima; 457-6611. Online: gracelutheranyakima.org
An open house for new students will be from 1-5 p.m. March 22. Or, call to arrange a tour anytime.
Montessori School of Yakima | Preschool (3 years) through kindergarten. Location: 511 N. 44th Ave., Yakima. 966-0680. Online: msofy.org
One mama shares why she loves Montessori
By Debbie Vuillemot
We are the parents of 4 children: Orion,7; Anais, 5; Elias, 3; and Akira, 1.
When Orion was 3, we were overwhelmed with how many choices there were for preschool. We started off in a twice-weekly church preschool and quickly realized he needed more stimulation. One of my co-workers told me about Montessori School of Yakima (MSY) where her child attended.
Oakridge Montessori School | Preschool (2 years) through grade 8. Location: 6403 Summitview Ave., Yakima; 966-1080. Online: oakridgemontessorischool.com
Riverside Christian School | Preschool through grade 12. Location: 721 Keys Road, Yakima; 965-2602. Online: riversidechristianschool.com
St. Joseph Marquette Catholic School | Pre-K through grade 8. Location: 202 N. Fourth St., Yakima; 575-5557. Online: sjmms.org
An open house for prospective students will be from 5-6:30 p.m. Feb. 5. Or, call to arrange a tour anytime. Add your name to the school’s waiting list now; admission for new students will begin in late February.
Westpark Christian Academy | Preschool (3 years) through grade 12. Location: 3902 Summitview Ave., Yakima; 966-1632. Online: diversityexcels.org
Yakima Adventist Christian School | Kindergarten through grade 10. Location: 1200 City Reservoir Road, Yakima. 966-1933. Online: www.yacsschool.org
Education Day will be April 9; preregistration is required. Prospective students will spend the day in a classroom and take assessment tests.