John Muir Reflections on the Outdoors

Muir Woods, John Muir, Redwoods, forest, beauty, peace, good tidings, quotations“Everyone needs beauty as well as bread; places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”


“Camp out among the grass and gentians of glacier meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountain and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flowers into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

The Land of Two Rivers: What’s Happening, Sacramento?

Oakland Museum, museum, interpretive writing, writing, exhibit, display, visitor, visitor experience,
“What’s Up Sacramento? Land of Two Rivers” Researched and wrote interpretive text as part of a collaborative team to create this temporary museum exhibit.

This exhibit presented in the Gallery of California History at the Oakland Museum of California highlighted the critical partnership between Sacramento and the two major rivers that run through its cities and outlying suburbs – the American River and Sacramento River.

Janice was part of an interpretive writing team. Each writer focused on a single topic to research and write.  What’s Happening Sacramento? highlighted the impact of the two rivers on area history, wildlife and ecology, agriculture, economy, recreation and lifestyle, and flooding.

sacramento_3_webJanice’s role was to research and write about the American River Parkway – a 25-mile greenbelt and bicycle trail that envelops the American River as it winds through the City of Sacramento and neighboring suburbs; and alongside a fish hatchery, parks, an urban farm, CA State University Sacramento and many other assets and facilities. The American River merges with the Sacramento River at the city’s waterfront.

photographs are courtesy of the Oakland Museum of California.



Going Into the Woods Inspires a Child’s Imagination

fairies, imagination, outdoor world, nature,
Imagining another world

Going into the woods is more than random play. The woods are the child’s work to create imaginary experiences and understand that the natural world is full of curiosities and wonder, miracles and delight.  The wonder of fairies hiding in trees, butterflies drinking nectar and frogs singing in the rushes when they believe no one can hear them, are the seeds of imaginative play. Imagination  grows into problem solving skills, so students have capacity to address complex issues and figure them out.


Tell an Origin Story. One of many ways I inspire a child’s imagination is by telling spoken word stories. When I tell The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling to a classroom filled with students, I don’t need to ask what happens next? After listening to the elephant’s encounters with other animals, the children are already held in suspense with fear and anticipation that the crocodile will grab the elephant’s child’s nose.

science, oak tree, tree, drawing, study, inquiry-based questions, questionsMeet a Tree. As a guest teacher in a science class, I asked second grade students to “meet a tree.” They sat outdoors and drew a picture  of the same tree. Every student drew their picture a little differently, approaching the project from a different perspective. Some drew the tree with birds and other creatures they imagined were there. Other students drew only what they saw. While drawing, I asked questions to get them thinking. Is this tree healthy? How do you know? Why do trees have leaves? Do all trees have leaves? How does a tree take a drink?

Consider the level of student engagement, imagination and excitement as a key measure of learning.  Students were recalling prior knowledge, learning with ease, and curious about the spider webs, the insects and the birds they observed in the tree.


Sierra Nevada Conservancy

history writing, Sierra Nevada, gold rush, mining, California historical landmark, portfolioResearched and wrote a series of more than 100 historic narratives (i.e. museums, historic sites, wineries, battlefields and homes) posted on the sierranevadageotourism website. Select California State Historical Landmark Argonaut & Kennedy Mine to read one of the profiles.

This site, in partnership with National Geographic, features hundreds of postings that highlight the distinctive character of the Sierra Nevada region – including parks, recreation areas, restaurants, specialty retail and gifts, art galleries, historic sites, trails, wineries and other points of interest.

The goal is to enhance the visitor experience while creating an understanding of the environmental, economic and societal impacts of the Sierra Nevada region on California.


Writer & Editor

Discover MagazineWriter & Editor, Discover magazine published by the Sacramento Bee. Wrote feature stories, assigned stories to writers and photographers and proofread regional lifestyle magazine before going to press.

Other credits includes publication of more than 100 feature stories in regional and statewide magazines with a focus on recreation, lifestyle, education, the arts and health.

California Arts Council – Economic Impact of the Arts

California Arts Council, Communities Tell Their StoriesResearcher & Writer – Interview arts leaders and champions statewide to develop a series of feature stories published in Western City and California Counties.   The stories were later expanded into a booklet distributed statewide.  Click here to download, “Cultural Planning.”

        ~Economic Impact of the Arts

       ~Art in Public Places

       ~Building Community Partnerships, and

    ~Cultural Planning


City of Rocklin Annual Calendar

community historyResearcher & Writer – The City of Rocklin chose to develop its annual report to the community as an illustrated calendar to highlight city departments,  services, volunteers and events to describe the character of this family oriented community. Janice selected themes for the pages, conducted interviews and worked closely with the graphic designer on layout and production.


John Muir National Historic Site Research & Field Trip Curriculum

John Muir, field trip curriculum, experience, schools, children, fourth grade, third grade“Nothing goes unrecorded. Every word of leaf and snowflake and particle of dew… as well as earthquake and avalanche, is written down in Nature’s book.”

John Muir National Historic Site research and field trip curriculum includes the following parts.

  • Land ownership history beginning with the original purchase of the ranch to its establishment as a national park.
  • History of early California agriculture and urbanization of Martinez (location of ranch).
  • Area demographics and related area resources and programs.
  • Historical profile of John Muir’s life, his connection to the Strentzel-Muir Ranch and description of the natural and cultural resources of the site. The profile is intended to be used as an orientation guide for docents and new interpretive staff.
  • Curriculum meets Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards 
    • Inquiry-based lessons to orient students to John Muir’s life,
    • Hands on opportunities for site-based field studies and thematic ranger led tours, and
    • Classroom and out of school projects that engage students in learning about community history and modern day Muirs; and practice advocacy and environmental stewardship.

Did you know?

John Muir has places and things named for him all over the world.


Sacramento Tree Foundation LEAF Steward Program

LEAFTraining Program Manager. Launched, designed, delivered and evaluated a series of 8-week LEAF Steward Urban Forestry Training Program for adult volunteers (Leading Education And urban Forestry). The LEAF Steward program combined lecture/discussion with featured subject matter expert speakers, hands-on learning opportunities, field studies and writing the fully illustrated curriculum reference guide shown. Download  program fact sheet here.

The LEAF Steward program was developed as a leadership capacity building initiative to expand organization outreach at events, conduct tree plantings, and provide tree care and placement advice to the public. Received the Best Urban Forestry Education Program of the Year in 2009 from CA Urban Forests Council.

Janice impressed me immediately with her ability to articulate a vision through curriculum development and delivery. Her work with our LEAF (Leading Education and Awareness of Urban Forestry) was stellar. We provided her with our ideas and she ran with it!             Jody McKay, former Chief Financial Officer, Sacramento Tree Foundation



Sense of Place

Every “place” has distinctive characteristics that set it apart from somewhere else. A sense of place is character, setting, mood, people, landscape and senses. Uniformity and sameness is “absent” when defining sense of place.

Listed below is a set of questions to help define a sense of place in a neighborhood, park, historic site, national or state park, or a one-of-a-kind restaurant. A bakery located on a main street with traffic buzzing by will offer a sense of place far different from the bakery nestled in a quiet neighborhood, known only to residents and friends.

  • Who are the people who have lived in this place? (today and many yesterdays)
  • What are the sounds of this place?
  • What are the smells?
  • What are the activities?
  • What is the weather? (today and through time)
  • What are the unique characteristics about this place that sets it apart from another places?
  • What is the landscape of this location?

Spend an hour to reflect, write, and reel in your senses to define a unique sense of place.