Biodiversity Festival

By Stuart Thornton, National Geographic Roving Reporter

There is a lot to see at BioBlitz’s Biodiversity Festival. Inside a long tented pavilion, manned booths offer students, teachers and parents information about a wide variety of subjects from—local San Francisco Bay area parks to artistically created oyster reefs. The Marine Mammal Center, KQED Science and, of course, National Geographic Education have set up areas that receive lots of foot traffic.

One interesting booth is run by the Mycological Society of San Francisco. These mushroom lovers instruct students on how to grow their own oyster mushrooms. Interested students fill plastic bags halfway with straw before sprinkling some cultured pieces of mushroom and sawdust on top.

“If you follow instructions, in about a month, you should have oyster mushrooms,” Paul Koski of the Mycological Society of San Francisco says.

Paul Koski of the Mycological Society of San Francisco shows how to get the right conditions to grow oyster mushrooms. Photograph by Stuart Thornton

Paul Koski of the Mycological Society of San Francisco shows how to get the right conditions to grow oyster mushrooms.
Photograph by Stuart Thornton

Another intriguing display is manned by Mary O’Brien and Daniel McCormick of Watershed Sculpture. The two are using clay silt from the San Francisco Bay that is then molded into a shape that resembles a missile’s tip and then fired hard within a kiln. They are hoping the creations can be used as oyster reefs in the Bay Area.

“It’s a real combination of art and science,” O’Brien says.

Mary O’Brien and Daniel McCormick show off their Watershed Sculptures. Photograph by Stuart Thornton, National Geographic

Mary O’Brien and Daniel McCormick show off their silty Watershed Sculptures.
Photograph by Stuart Thornton, National Geographic

One very popular booth is run by Tree Frog Treks that allows children to hold cool creatures including gopher snakes, bearded dragons and leopard geckos. The private education company does camps, hikes and classes focused on what they call “wild science.”

“Anything to get them [children] excited about science or nature,” Tony Iwane of Tree Frog Treks says. “It’s really cool to see people touch a snake for the first time.”

A leopard gecko was one of the stars of Tree Frog Treks’ booth. Photograph by Stuart Thornton, National Geographic

A leopard gecko was one of the stars of Tree Frog Treks’ booth.
Photograph by Stuart Thornton, National Geographic

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