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Naturalist helps kids connect with Earth

Interview with Josena Aiello, age 51, of Auburn
By: Asked Journal Correspondent, Kelsey Thomas
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The Placer Nature Center located in Auburn offers a number of outdoor classes for individuals to discover the environment and cultural history that surrounds them. On late Wednesday morning the center hosted a program called “Edible useable plants with trail walk,” which is for children grades Kindergarten to fifth. Staff Naturalist Josena Aiello facilitated one of the two classes where she discussed what part of the plant to eat, how to use plants in everyday life, and went over how plants are linked with wildlife. The group then went on a nature walk where they explored plant habitat and Aiello also explained to the children some of the history on the land. If interested in the events the Placer Nature Center has to offer, visit www.placernaturecenter.org. Q: What is your title? Aiello: Staff Naturalist Q: What programs do you teach? Aiello: I do a preschool program where I go visit preschools and I help children find nature in their play yard. We do off site field classes with older kids and we do the school groups here. Q: Why do you like teaching at the Placer Nature Center? Aiello: My favorite thing here is to watch any child overcome a fear that keeps them from enjoying nature. There is something called Nature Deficit Disorder where children have been led to believe that there are bad things outdoors waiting for them. I want to help them overcome this fear of nature. Q: Where is your favorite outdoor area in Placer County? Aiello: I love rivers and lakes. Any riparian area. There is lots of diversity. I get a lot of peace from the river. Q: What types of animals do you usually encounter on your walks around the Placer Nature Center? Aiello: I have seen deer, jackrabbits, turkey, quail, grey squirrels, tree frogs, field mice. Lots of evidence of fox, but I have not seen any here. There are more kinds of insects that I never knew were out there. There are also many local birds. Q: What advice would you give someone who is about to go on a nature walk? Aiello: Bring water, stay on the trail, and observe everything. Q: Where is the most interesting place in nature you have ever visited? Aiello: I have been in many caves here in California. Going into the Earth is really cool.