Mardi Sicular-Mertens

Berkeley High School
(Berkeley Unified School District)
2223 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Berkeley, CA  94704

Outdoor pedagogy and thoughts about host

Teaching outdoors is a joy – I can’t believe I get paid to do it!

This was the greatest summer of my life!  I felt respected.  I got to be a scientist and gained confidence to do research.  When I stayed for long periods at the reserve, I spent more time alone that I ever have before, and when I attended the workshops, I spent more time with people than I ever have before.  I was more totally immersed than ever.  

I loved the opportunity to work one-on-one with Mark Stromberg, the reserve manager.  I could not believe the amount of time he spent with me.  We were a perfect match, and I felt honored to be there.  We had the same interests, and I couldn’t believe I got a whole house on site to myself!  HOST was inspiring.  The workshops were perfect.  I enjoyed learning “what is science?,” doing field research, sampling, statistics, writing our own paper, and percent-cover study of vegetation.  I couldn’t believe I ended up doing a percent-cover study at Hastings with Mark, too.  We even wrote a journal article together. 


HOST Training Site:
NRS’s Hastings Natural History Reservation (administered by UCB) in Monterey County.

HOST Program Emphases:
Creating herbarium specimens, identifying 30 grass species, studying grassland restoration and seed production, co-writing a journal article on grassland restoration, and observing native species.

HOST Teaching Materials:
 Roads and Plant Diversity: How do roads impact plant communities?
 Field Trip to San Bruno: A Journey Back in Time to an Aboriginal Prairie:  Students contrast a weedy annual grassland of introduced species with an undisturbed, ancient plant community of native bunchgrasses and wildflowers.  Lesson plan can be modified to include any native prairie in California. 

Selection of Awards:
 Phi Beta Kappa (Mills College)
 Regents Scholar (UC San Francisco) 
 Mentor Teacher for State Program

Years Teaching: 15

Subjects Taught:
 Environmental Science 

Personal Motto:
“The world is a very beautiful place.”

Recommended Websites:
 California Department of Education:

 Music:  Classical pianist, guitar, double bass in orchestra
 Hiking:  Tilden Park, Sierras
 Gardening:  Native plants, perennials
 Traveling:  Mexico, Hawaii, Europe
 Bicycling:  Inspiration Point