Friends of the Arcata Marsh
Welcome to FOAM! FOAM (Friends of the Arcata Marsh) is an organization located at the Interpretive Center at the Arcata Marsh that strives to enhance visitors' understanding of what the Marsh does for its surrounding community and environment. FOAM accomplishes this by offering activities and information at the Interpretive Center and tours through the Marsh. Information can be accessed at the Interpretive Center during open hours shown on the sign (Figure 1) at the South G Street entrance of the Marsh in Arcata, California. NOTE: The Interpretive Center is closed on Mondays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and on holidays.
The Interpretive Center
The Interpretive Center is located off of Highway 101 on the Samoa Boulevard exit. Once on Samoa Boulevard, turn left (South) at the light onto G Street. The Interpretive Center will be on the right, a light brown building with a parking lot located at 569 South G Street.
BIRDING:A major attraction of the marsh is the opportunity to view a variety of Arcata Marsh Birds. FOAM aids this popular hobby by offering birding information and guidance. There is bird information available directly from local birders provided by a posting board at the Interpretive Center, called the Arcata Marsh Bird Alert. The Arcata Marsh Bird Alert is located to the right of the Interpretive Center's entrance. This is a place for birders to leave posts about birds they have found and where they saw them. The Arcata Marsh Bird Alert also includes listings for birding "hot spots" and The Bird of the Month. The Bird of the Month is usually an important bird found in the marsh, with useful facts about the bird's role in the marsh. There is also another tour led by Redwood Region Audubon Society, an organization dedicated to birds, conservation, and nature, which begins at 8:30 a.m. on Saturdays, rain or shine. These tours are for the pure joy of birding so visitors should be sure to bring their binoculars.
GODWIT DAYS: FOAM also continues to promote bird enthusiasm through an informational booth at the local birding festival in mid-April called Godwit Days. FOAM volunteers lead several tours and sponsor family nature craft activities at the festival.
ARTWORK: Local photographers and artists turn the Interpretive Center walls into an art venue every month. The photos, drawings, paintings, and other media depict birds, plants, or other topics related to the marsh. The photos can be artistic or realistic, depending on the artist's style and preference.
TOURS: FOAM provides many activities that encourage and nurture visitors' interests in nature and wastewater treatment, no matter the level of knowledge. FOAM entertains and educates by offering guided nature walks at 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays that are free to the public and take place rain or shine. Depending on who guides the tour, visitors can expect to learn about birds, plants and history of the marsh. Tours on the last Saturday of the month are focused on waste water treatment and how the marsh assists this process. Group tours during weekdays can be arranged by calling the Interpretive Center at least 2 weeks in advance.
EXHIBITS: Exhibits inside the Interpretive Center vary from policies on waste water treatment to actual treatment for waste water. Some of the exhibits are interactive, reinforcing concepts through moving parts. An example is an exhibit of the water cycle, which can be seen in Figure 2, that presents information about each stage of the water cycle. To connect the information with a visual, this exhibit is designed show simulated water flow through the seasons by turning a knob. The Interpretive Center also provides free literature (via brochures) with information on bird trails throughout Northern California, as well as maps and information about the marsh.
WETLANDS ON WHEELS: This program is directed toward grades 3 and 4. Slideshows and plant clippings are tools that are used during FOAM presentations. At the end of a presentation, students are encouraged to participate in a skit. These presentations are put on by students at Humboldt State University.
AWARDS FOR EDUCATION: FOAM awards a prize each year for the best wetland-related project at the Humboldt County Science Fair. FOAM offers grants for college student research projects related to the Marsh. It also co-sponsors a Student Bird Art Contest for K-12 students associated with Godwit Days.
The Interpretive Center activities and programs are run by volunteers. Volunteers may perform a range of taks, such as front desk help at the Interpretive Center, maintenance around the Marsh, and education. Though a large majority of the maintenance is performed by the City of Arcata, FOAM organizes service days where people from the community can volunteer. For educational work, such as taking visitors on tours of the Marsh, docent training is required. Docent training is held twice a year. All inquiries about volunteer work should be directed to the Interpretive Center at (707) 826-2359.
FOAM is entirely funded by membership fees, donations, and fund-raisers. Members receive the quarterly FOAM newsletter, UPWIND, and vote for board members. The application for becoming a member can be found on the last page of FOAM's informational pamphlet.
Homer, D. (2008). Interpretive Naturalist. Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center (707)826-2359. email: firstname.lastname@example.org