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Now Reading: Wild LA: Explore the Amazing Nature In and Around Los Angeles
Wild LA Wednesdays Book Club is open to all, join us anytime! From Fall 2020 – Spring 2021, we’re meeting over Zoom for Wild LA evening group discussions, guest speakers and fun activities. And if you’re in the LA area, we have a limited supply of free books! (details below) Our volunteer book committee plans easy reading assignments for each session, but don’t worry if you don’t have the book, just join us and learn!
Book Club & Reading Schedule
SESSION 12: *tueSDAY*, March 23, 2021 7:00-8:30 PM
native la plants you should know!
- Note: this session is on a Tuesday, not Wednesday!
- Special guest: Brenda Kyle, @chaparralchick, Theodore Payne Foundation for Native Plants Community Engagement Coordinator, Certified California Naturalist, Eaton Canyon Nature Center Associates docent and Nature for All Leadership Academy graduate. Interviews: NHM | Arlington. Brenda will expand on the book, share stories and teach important LA native plants that everyone should know!
- Homework reading: Plants (pp. 172 -203) and for show-and-tell, bring a photo/background of your favorite plant, native or non-native!
— Schedule will continue to be updated above. Find Book Club & iNaturalist details below —
UP NEXT: SESSION 11: WEDNESDAY, march 10, 2021 7:00-8:30 PM
Caught on Camera! LA’s got wildlife
- 2 amazing guests are blowing our minds by revealing how much wildlife live in #WildLA. Bats in South LA, Mountain lions in Griffith Park and all our local mountains, bobcats, foxes, bears… 🦁🤯🐻
- Miguel Ordeñana, famous P-22 mountain lion & urban mammal researcher from the Natural History Museum. Miguel’s research includes community space projects, bats and squirrels of LA, jaguars in Nicaragua, and outreach to promote more diverse representation within the scientific community and environmental movement. Miguel will share his work including using nighttime bat detectors that record and identify their calls, and discovering P-22.
- Robert Martinez, wildlife photographer, videographer and artist-in-residence in the Angeles National Forest. Robert captures incredible trail camera footage of mountain lions, bears, rattlesnakes, even Santa Claus. His work recently caught the attention of CBS-LA reporters, who ventured into the woods for a feature interview. Check out the stories behind these wildlife recordings on his Instagram @parliament0f0wls and YouTube. and photography for sale at robertmartinezphotography.com.
- Homework: What animals have you encountered after dark? Bring a background photo for show-and-tell! Readings: After Dark (pp. 60-65) and Mammals (pp. 130-147).
SESSION 10: WEDNESDAY, FEBURARY 24, 2021 7:00-8:30 PM
Mapping Migraciones: LA Peeps and the Secret World of Birds
- It’s our 10th episode (!), and we’re chirping about Birds (pp. 82-105) and Migration (pp. 54-58) with two special guests who will share their personal journeys and let us peek into the secret world of birds. Homework: What’s your favorite bird? Bring a background photo for our lightning-round show-and-tell!
- Day Scott (@thewildernessgoddess) is a naturalist originally from Los Angeles, now living in Lander, Wyoming. She is a naturalist, ornithologist, wildlife photographer, freelance writer and environmental educator. Her passion for birds came as a result from a traumatic brain injury. Day is fascinated by watching bird behavior. This activity is not only educational but helps to keep her central nervous system calm. Combining skills of birding, wildlife photography and writing helps Day to hone in on her passion for the natural world. Day hopes that sharing nature through her eyes brings joy to those near and far. More at www.thewildernessgoddess.com, including her features on Theodore Payne: Poppy Hour, Audubon: Race & Birding, and County 10 News.
- Tania Romero (@lacanariaroja) is a Latina born and raised in the city of Los Angeles and now works as the Program Coordinator at the Audubon Center at Debs Park. Tania is passionate about bridging the conservation world and field practices to underrepresented communities, especially when it comes to birds. Tania is a bird lover, ornithologist (bird biologist), and educator and often times can find her in urban parks in the Los Angeles area birding, unless she is out for an adventure in National Parks. She will talk about her field work, conservation and banding practices, flyways and “Mapping Migraciones” – a year-long project by Audubon California with National Audubon Society and Latino Outdoors celebrating Latinidad, migration, and the stories that connect us across the Americas. The interactive map uses migratory bird data and stories from the general public to give us a full picture of how birds and people are connected through geography and culture. More from Tania in this video.
SESSION 9: WEDNESDAY, FEBURARY 10, 2021 7:00-8:30 PM
SPECIAL VALENTINE’S DAY EDITION! SEX AND LOVE IN WILD LA
Grunion sex on the beach, snail sex, alligator lizard rituals, dragonfly wheels, ladybug threesomes, and sexual cannibalism of praying mantids??? It’s about to get hot and heavy on a very special Valentine’s edition on Sex and Love in Wild LA! No homework reading this week, just join us for titillating inner twerkings of romance and reproduction in our steamiest, wildest Wild LA Book Club yet. Got a fun story or photo/video to share? Bring those too.
Special guests: Lila Higgins, Wild LA author & Natural History Museum Community Science Senior Manager. Emily Cobar, Community Program Manager at LA Audubon. Xana Hermosillo, Marine Scientist and Science & Outdoor Educator at Walden School.
Session 8: Wednesday, January 27, 2021
The future of mountain lions, coyotes and bears, oh my!
Native Species + mammals
- Happy New Year! We’re back with a whole new season of Wild LA Wednesday Book Club, with stimulating guest speakers, knowledge and discoveries about Wild LA.
- RSVP here for the free Zoom link & password
- In advance, read Native Species, pages 42-47, and Mammals, pages 130-147.
- Show & Tell: Bring a photo of your favorite Native wildlife species, for your zoom background!
- Topics: How megafauna survive in LA. Urban adapters, exploiters. Lucky & Unlucky. Mountain lions. Habitat connectivity and wildlife crossings. What we can do to help.
- Our special guests, two stars in LA’s urban wildlife conservation:
- Miguel Ordeñana, famous P-22 mountain lion & urban mammal researcher from the Natural History Museum. Miguel’s research includes community science projects, bats and squirrels of LA, jaguars in Nicaragua, and outreach to promote diversity in environmental education.
- Korinna Domingo, wildlife biologist and Founder/Director of the newly formed Cougar Conservancy, created in April 2020 after the legal killing of mountain lion P-56 caused a major uproar in the conservation community. The Conservancy empowers people with training, education, and cougar conflict prevention techniques that serve people, while conserving cougars and other essential wildlife.
- Learn about our guests’ work. Miguel: Urban Habitat (24 mins) -LA NHM, Miguel Ordeñana, P-22, bats, school gardens. Miguel’s articles for NHM. A Tale of Two Mountain Lions. Calling All Urban Wildlife Fans: How to Be a Community Scientist at Home. SoCal Squirrels.
- Cougar Conservancy: Saving the Monrovia lion from Bobcat Fire burns, Liberty Canyon wildlife crossing, Mountain lion Nikita filmed in Verdugo Mountains.
Session 1: Wednesday, May 6, 7:30-8:30 pm
Wild LA: We’re full of nature!
- In advance, read Intro and Los Angeles is Full of Nature, pages 7-9 and 12-18. (30-45 mins). For Show & Tell, bring one photo of a favorite living organism (plant, animal, whatever!) – you can make it your Zoom background or share your screen. Agenda: We’ll introduce ourselves and the Wild LA Wednesdays Book Club, discuss the first reading section, have Show & Tell, explain book distribution and give you the next reading assignment. Call to action: Sign the petition!
Session 2: Wednesday, May 20, 7:30-8:30 pm.
Prehistoric LA & the Ice Age
- In advance, read La Brea Tar Pits Tell the LA Story, pages 19-28.
Videos: Check out the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum YouTube channel!
- Special guests: Lila Higgins, Wild LA author & Natural History Museum Community Science Senior Manager and Dr. Donald R. Prothero, Mammalian Paleontologist, Geologist and Author will be joining us! We’ll have group discussion of the reading, and our guests will chat with us about their work. Bring your questions!
Session 3: Wednesday, July 15, 7:30-8:45 pm
Community Science: Inclusive & Anti-racist
+ Get Started with iNaturalist!
- After a lengthy pause, we are back and “re-zooming” the Book Club, with an important discussion on making Community Science inclusive & anti-racist. All are welcome.
- Special guests Michelle Race — Natural History Museum Community Science Manager and Co-Founder of Black Girls Trekkin’, and Lila Higgins — Wild LA author, entomology geek & Natural History Museum Community Science Senior Manager — will join us!
- We’ll chat about how Community Science democratizes science & advocacy, what NHM staff are doing to make their Community Science program anti-racist, and how each of us can contribute to “Wild LA” research here in our own city!
- 1) In advance, read Science by the People, pages 72-79.
- 2) Get started with iNaturalist! Download the app, create your account, and start documenting LA’s biodiversity by snapping photos & contributing to community science!
- 3) For Show & Tell, bring one favorite iNaturalist photo that you’ve uploaded. Make it your Zoom background or share your screen. Remember to document wild organisms (whether native or non-native plants, wildlife, insects, molds, lichen, etc., — no pets or cultivated/planted species even if native)
- Sign up on our Eventbrite to receive password.
SESSION 4: WEDNESDAY, JULY 29, 7:30-8:45 PM
insects & Spiders
- Bugs are bodacious. And LA has lots of ’em! We’ll discuss the species in the book, share bug stories, and bug out on any insecty-spidery-things y’all want to talk about. Monarch butterfly and honeybee extinction? Murder hornets? Global insect crisis? We’re here for all of it.
- Special guest: Lila Higgins — Wild LA author, entomology geek & Natural History Museum Community Science Senior Manager — will join us to share why people should care about bugs, and tell us about Lisa Gonzalez’s photography work on the NHM’s BioSCAN (Biodiversity Science: City and Nature project and the cool online exhibition Spiky, Hairy, Shiny: Insects in L.A.
- 1) In advance, read Insects & Spiders, pages 106-121. Can you observe any of the 21 species before we meet?
- 2) For Show & Tell, bring one favorite insect or spider photo that you’ve taken. Make it your Zoom background or share your screen.
- 3) Get started with iNaturalist! Download the app, create your account, and start documenting LA’s biodiversity by snapping photos & contributing to community science!
- Sign up on our Eventbrite to receive password.
Session 5: Wednesday, August 5, 7:30-8:45 pm
Reptiles & Amphibians
- Special guest: Greg Pauly, Natural History Museum Curator of Herpetology, Co-director, Urban Nature Research Center, and Wild LA Co-author. Read his fun stories of LA lizard & amphibian discoveries with community scientists! Love in the Time of Coronavirus: The Alligator Lizard Version | Lizard Fieldwork is Just a Metro Ride Away in Los Angeles | Studying Lizard Love Through Citizen Science: “Because this region is so big and so much of it is private property, we enlist people (aka community scientists) all across the region to help us study the local biodiversity.”
- 1) In advance, read Reptiles & Amphibians, pages 148-161. Can you observe any of the 11 species before we meet?
- 2) For Show & Tell, bring one favorite reptile or amphibian photo that you’ve taken. Make it your Zoom background or share your screen.
- 3) On iNaturalist, join our new Wild LA Wednesdays Book Club iNaturalist project! All your iNat captures from May 6, 2020 til the end of our book club will load into the group project. What amazing finds will we have as a group, and who can observe the most?! We’ll discuss our finds each week.
Session 6: WEDNESDAY, August 19, 7:30-8:45 PM
WATER WRITES THE HISTORY OF LA x “the aqueduct between us”
For this next session, please pre-watch the powerful short film “The Aqueduct Between Us” beforehand, and read the short Water history section in Wild LA. The film documents oral histories about water in Los Angeles from the indigenous peoples of Tovaangar (Los Angeles) and Payahuunadu (Owens Valley), decolonizing the Los Angeles Water narrative. It reveals how LA’s history of development and water engineering are intertwined with impacts to Indigenous communities, giving voice and visibility to living Native people’s stories, relationship with these sacred waters and tribal sovereignty. We screened this 39-minute film directed by AnMarie Mendoza during our Nature for All Stewards Virtual Friday Night Film Series and are now glad to continue this critical discussion with special guest: Isaiah Mendoza, cinematographer and editor of the film.
Mr. Mendoza is a Tongva filmmaker born and raised the San Gabriel Valley. During his time studying film and photography at Pasadena City College, Isaiah developed a passion for documentary storytelling; as well as environmental and social justice. Through his work with his sister AnMarie and the Sacred Places Institute, Isaiah seeks to record and unearth Indigenous perspectives in the hopes of protecting and preserving native homelands.
- In advance, watch “The Aqueduct Between Us” (39 minutes, 2019) – available on YouTube.
- In advance, read “Water Writes the History of LA” in Wild LA.
Session 7: Wednesday, dec. 9, 7:00-8:45 pm
Wild LA Wednesday is re-igniting with a hot topic: Wildfire! Join our special guests Lila Higgins and Greg Pauly, co-authors of Wild LA, Josh Andujo, Gabrieleno Tongva tribal member, and Matthew Bokach, US Forest Service Monument Manager of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument/Angeles National Forest, for heated discussion and Q&A.
Indigenous cultural burning, fire-adapted plants, impacts to wildlife, human causes, urban-wild interface encroachment, cost of firefighting, forest management, prescribed burns, restoration, volunteering… there’s a lot to unpack on this issue burning on everyone’s minds.
Lightning check-in question: 1-2 sentences max: Your reflections/questions on this year’s wildfires.
Recommended reading & video links:
- Wild LA reading: Fire, Past and Future, pgs. 36-41
- KCET Documentary: Tending the Wild — Cultural burning (18 mins)
- LA Times articles & videos:
- Debris flow (must-see video!)
- US Forest Service management: Prescribed burns video. Masticator video. Fire Year 2020 wildland firefighter video.
- After burning 180 square miles / 116,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains in September 2020, the Bobcat Fire now ranks the second largest fire on record in Los Angeles County, behind only the Station Fire (2009, 160,000 acres) which also burned in the Angeles National Forest. Two years ago, the Woolsey Fire was the fourth largest in the County (2018, 97,000 acres) and burned 88% of federal park land in the Santa Monica Mountains.
- 25% of the Angeles National Forest/San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is now closed to public access through April 2022, as part of the Forest Service’s Fire Closure Order which will wait for 2 winter rain cycles and spring-summer growth cycles to pass so dangerous debris can come down and new growth can help stabilize slopes. Here is Post-Bobcat Fire information from the Angeles National Forest, including the Soil Burn Severity map which indicates which areas got burnt the worst/least.
- “Four of the five largest fires ever recorded in California were burning at the same time as the Bobcat fire,” she said. “Climate change contributes to megafires like these by heating fuels up, drying them out, and making them more flammable.” – NASA Earth Observatory
- Restoration: Volunteer with Angeles National Forest groups
- Follow Wilbur Sturtevant‘s Facebook account for updates on Camp Sturtevant and Big Santa Anita Canyon
- Adams Pack Station
- Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you have additional links to share.
see above for what’s next. We are still PLANNING the next sessions & schedule. Check back to confirm & let us know if you’d like to help plan & promote these sessions!
Search for our iNaturalist project!
- On iNaturalist, join our new Wild LA Wednesdays Book Club iNaturalist project! All your iNat captures from May 6, 2020 til the end of our book club will load into the group project. What amazing finds will we have as a group, and who can observe the most?! We’ll discuss our finds each week.
About the Book
If you’ve been wanting to learn about nature in LA, now’s the time! Wild LA is a fun new book published by community science and biology experts from our very own Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. It is easy to read, accessible, and helps us learn that LA is full of nature — we live in a global biodiversity hotspot! — all we have to do is look. It shares relatable stories, has an identification guide and field trips across the County.
Wild LA: Explore the Amazing Nature In and Around Los Angeles by Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Lila Higgins & Gregory B. Pauly with Jason G. Goldman & Charles Hood
“Los Angeles may have a reputation as a concrete jungle, but in reality, it’s full of amazing wildlife. You just need to know where to find it! Equal parts natural history, field guide, and trip planner, Wild LA has something for everyone. It looks at the factors that shape local nature—including fire, floods, and climate—and profiles over 100 local species” – Timber Press
“No matter how much one thinks one knows about L.A., this travel companion will shed new light on all that flourishes and flowers, or creeps and crawls in the vast urban-yet-still-wild sprawl of the city …” – Publishers Weekly
Get Started with the Book
- The first reading section is viewable on Google Books preview.
- Free books available: We still have some books available for participants who commit to the book club, courtesy of Altadena Library. After the book club, share the book with a new owner. Attend one of our sessions to get details.
- Wild LA is available digitally for checkout on hoopla (use your library card to log in; if you don’t have an Altadena library card, you can sign up for one!)
- Buy the book & support a local independent bookstore! – Vroman’s | Skylight Books | The Last Bookstore | Bookshop
Thank You Altadena Library
Many thanks to our community partner Altadena Library for the origin of this Wild LA book club idea, and for supplying the amazing free books for our participants! They’ve created activity and discussion packets which we are incorporating with our own ideas as well!