Saturday, June 1, 2013

Vote for Cuyamaca College's Tree Frog Project!

An innovative project to restore Cuyamaca College’s 47-acre nature preserve and educate high school students about the tree frogs that live there is eligible for a $25,000 prize – if enough people vote online for the project by June 20.
The Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges’ Tree Frog Project is one of eight selected as finalists for the 2013 Earth 8 Eco Ambassadors award, sponsored by KFMB Channel 8,   San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and the San Diego River Park Foundation. Voting begins at 9 a.m. May 31, and the organization with the most votes by noon on June 20 wins the $25,000 grand prize. The second-place winner will receive $10,000, and all eight finalists will receive $2,000.
To vote, go to  and select the Tree Frog Project. One vote each day per IP address is allowed, so be sure to cast votes daily from your computer, phone and tablet. Go to for additional details on the competition.
Cuyamaca College biology professor Kathryn Nette said that faculty members at the college became interested in researching Cuyamaca College’s tree frogs several years ago because the species are good indicators of the environmental health of its habitat. Worldwide, frogs are dying because humans are encroaching on their habitats and many have been killed by a lethal fungus.

The Tree Frog Project received a $15,000 grant from SDG&E last year to restore the college’s nature preserve, a mix of coastal sage scrub and a riparian area. The college is sponsoring cleanups of the preserve, including one scheduled for June 8 that is open to the public.  The cleanup will be held from 9 -11:30 a.m., starting at the parking lot of the college’s A Building on Fury Lane. Participants are advised to wear sunscreen, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat and heavy shoes or boots that can get wet. They should also bring gloves, a bucket, and plant clippers. Email for more information or to RSVP.
The grant is also being used to hold two weeklong camps June 24 and July 8 to teach high school students about creating a restoration plan for the preserve, and gathering data about the tree frog populations, rain and storm water runoff, water quality, erosion, and animal and plant populations.
“This is an incredible living laboratory we’ve got here,” Nette said.
Each camp will have about 20 students from Mater Dei Catholic High School in Chula Vista and schools in the Grossmont Union High School District, with a focus on selecting young women and students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The camps will be free for the students, with costs paid through the SDG& E grant.
The camps will be led by Cuyamaca College biology professors Christina Burnett, Kim Dudzik  and Michelle Garcia;  and Suzanne Till, a former geography instructor at Cuyamaca and now director of the Academy of Science at Mater Dei Catholic High School, a project partner with the college.
The college will also be partnering with the University of San Diego to analyze the methods used to teach students about tree frogs and their habitat.
“Our goal is to work toward contributing to the worldwide knowledge of the global amphibian crisis, and in the process to restore the habitat for these frogs,”  Nette said. “At the same time, we're providing an incredible research opportunity for students to learn about the important role that tree frogs play in our environment.”
To learn more about the Tree Frog Project, go to