"Virtual Reality Bugs": What an incredible experience! Be sure to head over to Briggs Hall on Saturday, April 13 during the 105th annual UC Davis...
Medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo and his "Virtual Reality Bugs" demonstration drew participants all day long at the 2018 UC Davis Picnic Day. He'll do so again this Saturday. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
At a recent Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on spiders, medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo demonstrated his virtual reality system. The girls, members of Brownie Girl Scout Troop 30477, Vacaville, are (from left) Jayda Navarrette, 8; Keira Yu, 8, and Kendl Macklin, 7. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, experiences Virtual Reality with spiders. "I just want to collect them," she said. With her is medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The UC Master Gardener Program of San Diego County has always been open to innovative ways of expanding its mission and passion for gardening into new parts of its community. The San Diego program has a rich history of successful partnering with other local organizations to reach under-served populations. An exciting new collaboration was unveiled in March 2018 when five UC Master Gardener volunteers took their newest public outreach project Reminiscence Gardening to the Alzheimer's San Diego's (AlzSD) social activities program.
Thirty participants, all community members being served by AlzSD, got their hands dirty and enjoyed a day of sensory stimulation through tabletop gardening activities planned by the UC Master Gardener leaders. The 90-minute program gave participants the opportunity to touch, move, smell, hear and see the joys of manipulating soil and plants to construct a simple potted creation to adorn their spring celebration table.
UC Master Gardener volunteers knew it would be important to develop activities that were fun and, hopefully, something those in attendance had previously enjoyed. With marigolds, chrysanthemums and mint varieties in hand, participants and caregivers, worked side-by-side and guided by UC Master Gardeners, dug into the bins filled with soil, pots and tools. Each set of participants was given three plants to pot up. As this first activity progressed, UC Master Gardeners could see that participants were being drawn out and interactions around the worktable were increasing. The physical, intellectual, emotional and social benefits of gardening were being experienced and shared by all.
Other sensory-heavy opportunities, all planned and guided by UC Master Gardeners, were included in the program. Participants were asked to reach into a bin filled with loose soil and wriggler worms to re-familiarize themselves with that most basic part of backyard gardening – working the soil. A variety of plants in one-gallon containers were passed around. Each container was specially marked with an icon that invited the participants to experience the visual beauty, familiar smell, unique feel and, sometimes, sound and subtle taste of each plant.
Of particular interest was an activity in which everyone was asked to explore a box filled with hand tools, seed packets and other items typically used in backyard gardening. Clearly, old memories were refreshed. A vintage hose nozzle drew the attention of one gentleman. He held it for a while then began making the motions used in hand-watering the yard, moving the nozzle back and forth while mimicking the sound of water rushing forth from the attachment onto a once green and promising flower bed. Tangible signs of success, such as these, were everywhere during the social activity.
Jessica Empeño, MSW, Alzheimer's San Diego's Vice President of Programs and Services was in attendance and praised the work of the UC Master Gardener volunteers.
“Gardening was such a treat for our families. This activity stimulated all the senses – from the gorgeous colors of the flowers, the smell and taste of the herbs and the chatter and laughter that filled the room. Most importantly, those living with dementia and their care partners were able to socialize and have fun in a safe, judgment-free setting. We are so grateful to the UC Master Gardener Program for donating their time and supplies. We hope to have them back soon!”
The UC Master Gardener Program of San Diego was inspired by its growing understanding of the need for more everyday experiences to address the issues facing members of our community being affected by dementia-related diseases. Those numbers are increasing at a staggering rate. The National Alzheimer's Association estimates that currently 5.7 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, with nearly two-thirds of those being women, and that number will almost triple by mid-century. In San Diego County, AlzSD offers social activities for individuals with dementia and their caregivers. The “Reminiscence Gardening” project's goal for those individuals is to boost energy levels, build confidence, prolong maintenance of existing skills and perpetuate a sense of purpose and joy through gardening.
Further collaborations between the UC Master Gardener Program of San Diego County and other memory care communities are in the works. UC Master Gardeners want to share their love of gardening and their advanced training from the university for the benefit of those in our community who need it the most. Many of us know first-hand the responsibility of caring for a family member with a dementia-related disease. We know, too, the joys and benefits of being outdoors and sharing time together with people we love. We want to make a meaningful difference in our community and the Reminiscence Gardening project is a wonderful way to express that.
For a calendar of future events and more information about other programs offered by the UC Master Gardener Program of San Diego and Alzheimer's San Diego, please visit:
It just wouldn't be a picnic without bugs. Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will turn into a bugfest...
Have roach, will race! Don't miss the cockroach races at Briggs Hall during the 105th annual UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Youngsters, as well as adults, delight in watching the cockroach races. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This youngster gives it his all at the maggot art table at Briggs Hall. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Graduate student Jackson Audley of the Steve Seybold lab offers a taste of honey at the honey tasting table at Briggs Hall. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey portrays "Dr. Death" at Briggs Hall during the annual UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis Picnic Day offers a lot of photo opportunities. Here Alex Nguyen, an entomology graduate, focuses on the "Entomology Band" at last year's Picnic Day. The band will not be performing this year, but photographers can find plenty of other subjects. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Steve's dad has had some problems with his foot that has slowed him down a bit. One day while I was with him, we were talking about what I should write for my next blog. He had been looking at mail that was piled up and showed me a couple of issues of the magazine pictured below. He said that the magazines had really good information on all kinds of birds, and he thought that I should write "a story" about birds. That seemed like a very tall order, plus there are several presentations coming up by our peers about our native birds and gardening to attract them. I thought that there might be something IN the magazine that would inspire me. Then, of course, the top line piqued my interest, so I started leafing through this particular issue. He gave me several issues that he had already read "for research."
Needless to say, I am not writing about any bird or plant. What I am writing about is how enjoyable these magazines are. The photography is amazing. The pictures of the birds and plants that they live with are accompanied by brief articles. There are also articles about butterflies and plants, accompanied by beautiful pictures. One section that caught my attention is "What's this..." Q&A of pictures sent in by readers from all over the country. Birds, plants, and butterflies were the main topic of the questions. I was intrigued by the pictures of birds that I have never seen as they are not native to our area.
So, if you are interested, this is definitely a publication that I would recommend.
You don't have to travel the world to see insects. You can see them at the Bohart Museum of Entomology during the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day,...
Scores of visitors will tour the Bohart Museum of Entomology on UC Davis Picnic Day, Saturday, April 13. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist Jeff Smith curates the butterfly and moth section at the Bohart Museum. Here he holds morpho butterfly specimens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garv
The Bohart Museum is the home of nearly eight million insect specimens, collected throughout the world. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)