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Jeanette Wrysinski

Jeanette Wrysinski
Director, Yolo County Resource Conservation District
One of the greatest benefits is a sense of intimacy with the landscape.

Jeanette Wrysinski is the vice president of the Cache Creek Conservancy. She has lived in Yolo County for over 14 years and has many years of experience volunteering with the Conservancy and has been serving on the board for about a decade. She currently works for the Yolo County Resource Conservation District.



Can you describe an activity you were involved with on this land?

A special activity that I have been involved in is the Tending and Gathering Garden. I took part in the discussions about what the garden would accomplish, specifically, how it could teach us about the watershed, about the people who lived here, and about how those people utilized the natural world. Those ideas had a lot of meaning to me, and I have been very aware of how important it is to be connected to a place.

What is the greatest benefit in having a sense of connection to this place?

One of the greatest benefits for me is the sense of intimacy with the land I'm walking on. That comes from walking the same trails from time to time and seeing the little differences, seeing how plants grow, and seeing how an animal has used a piece of the landscape. This sense of intimacy has made all of this much more valuable to me. I look around and notice more about the landscape.  I see things differently.

What are the ways that the Nature Preserve can promote itself to the public?

The Nature Preserve allows the general public to experience nature. This is a marvelous place, for example, to have access to the creek. Originally, it was going to be available to the public just once a month. There was a lot of concern from neighboring landowners that access to the Preserve would create problems of vandalism on their property and uncontrolled trespassing. I’ve been really pleased to see that it has been the opposite. People who come here, such as large school groups, have respected this place and shown in many ways that they appreciate the availability of the Preserve.

In what ways has the Preserve enhanced your personal life?

It has been fun to have my older son, Aren,do some volunteering. It has really broadened his horizon and his relationships and his connection to the landscape as well. He has been volunteering out here even before he took classes at UC Davis, which brought him out here for research projects.

My younger son, Adam, did his Eagle Scout project here. There are two owl boxes mounted on poles out in the grassland that he built with the help of his peers. It was quite a project for him to look up plans and design them, acquire materials through donations, and work with his peers to get it built. Every time I drive to the Preserve for a meeting, I enjoy seeing the owl boxes. It’s great that he not only could complete an Eagle Scout project but that he could contribute to the Preserve as well.

Why is the Nature Preserve as a whole important?

People need a place to connect to the landscape. If we don’t set aside places to do that, I think people will get more and more disconnected. In fact, it's gotten so that the majority of our population stays in the cities. They find activities there and that's where they spend all of their time. If they didn't have a reminder from time to time that a place like this exists, or if there weren’t a place like this to come to, they would have no way to really connect with the natural world around them.

This is a place that is remarkably close to local communities, and there are announcements published in the local media that let people know of special events here. These special events are to allow people to see the creek, learn about the local plants and animals, and strengthen their ties to the landscape. I want to be part of reminding people that all of this is something we depend on. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are very dependent on the land around us.

Are there any other thoughts or experiences that you would like to share?

When I was invited to be a more active participant in this place, it expanded a lot of my personal and work relationships. But they weren't just relationships with people, they were relationships with place. That's where there was a gradual awakening and development of what it means to have a sense of place and to be intimately connected with the landscape. Developing that in myself has made me more comfortable and even more assertive about trying to provide that for others, and to make them aware of the importance of being grounded in the place where they live.

There’s a gravel display being developed out here, and I participated in the project's committee. We talked a lot about the importance of providing a place of learning about the uses of the creek and some of its natural resources. In the past a lot of objections and controversies were associated with gravel mining. But I am aware through some of my own family connections of the importance of gravel in all of the modern conveniences that we have in buildings, streets, sidewalks, and other parts of our settled landscape. I felt that it was important to engage in that discussion. It has taken 8-10 years to get to the point of developing this display so that people can come to learn about the origins of the creek and how gravel ultimately makes its way down here to be collected and used to benefit all the people in our communities.

What do you see as the future of the Preserve?

I see the Preserve as being a keystone in what might be larger opportunities to get to know Cache Creek.  There are very few places where people can come and walk for more than a few hundred yards to observe natural vegetation, quietness, and see wildlife free to roam. I see this Preserve as being a kind of center in a wheel with spokes going out to other areas that might connect people with the whole creek, as being a little jewel along the creek or an outgrowth of seeds that have been planted and that I hope will continue to grow. 

Written by: 
Jennifer Lee

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