Local program receives $10,000 donation to enhance watershed education program

The funding will help the program extend its reach and continue its mission .

Once Upon a Watershed, an Ojai-based education program providing hands-on watershed education, restoration and stewardship experience to 4-6 grade students in Ventura County received their second installment of a $30,000 commitment from Aera Energy, an oil exploration and production company located on Ventura’s Westside. The funding, provided over three years will help the program extend its reach and continue its mission which is to teach students about the importance of protecting the watershed and help them understand their responsibility in protecting the whole earth system.

“Our program provides educational information about our environment to the younger generation who may not understand their individual impact on the world around them,” said David White, project coordinator. “This partnership with Aera provides us important funding to grow and expand our program which ultimately helps us reach more students on this important subject.”

“Aera’s commitment to protecting the environment is one of our core values and we have the utmost respect for the environmental resources here in Ventura,” explains Michele Newell, Aera spokesperson. “We are proud to partner with Once Upon a Watershed and support this valuable program that teaches the youth of the area about the importance of caring for their environment.”

For more information about Once Upon a Watershed go to www.onceuponawatershed.org

Gold Coast Transit District announces partnership with the Department of Homeland Security

stuff-gold-coastGold Coast Transit District, Ventura County’s largest public transit provider announced their partnership with the public awareness campaign of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “If You See Something, Say Something™.”

“If You See Something, Say Something™” posters and signs will now be visible on buses, transit centers and public spaces in the Gold Coast Transit District service area which include the cities of Ojai, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Ventura and unincorporated areas of Ventura County between the cities.

The posters advise citizens in the GCTD’s service area to contact the Department of Homeland Security at 888-705-JRIC (5742) or call 9-1-1 if they see any suspicious activity in or around buses or bus stops.  Citizens and Community Organizations may download a poster, by visiting www.GoldCoastTransit.org.

The “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign—originally implemented by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and now licensed to DHS for a nationwide campaign—is a simple and effective program to engage the public and key frontline employees to identify and report indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime to the proper transportation and law enforcement authorities.

The Department launched the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign in conjunction with the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative—an administration effort to train state and local law enforcement to recognize behaviors and indicators related to terrorism and terrorism-related crime; standardize how those observations are documented and analyzed; and ensure the sharing of those reports with the Federal Bureau of Investigation-led Joint Terrorism Task Forces for further investigation and fusion centers for analysis.

For more information on the campaign, visit www.dhs.gov/See-Something-Say-Something.


Gold Coast Transit District (GCTD) “ELF on the GO” holiday bus is on the road


Gold Coast Transit District (GCTD) is excited to announce that a specially decorated holiday bus will be traveling the streets of Oxnard, Ventura, Port Hueneme and Ojai this holiday season! The 40-foot “ELF on the GO” bus will be decorated inside and out with hundreds of lights — will feature music — and will include District staff as “Elves” riding along passing out candy canes to bus riders and posing for “sELFies!” The festively decorated bus will appear on regularly scheduled select routes from Tuesday, December 6th through Thursday, December 22nd.

ELF on the GO bus schedule and more info can be found here “Elf on the GO” bus can be tracked by searching #ELFontheGO on Facebook or Twitter or visit

www.GoldCoastTransit.org for schedule and fare information.

Volunteers help Ventura Hillsides Conservancy at Big Rock Preserve

Unveiling the bike rack are Christy Weir Ventura City Council, Jay Licata Aera Energy, Matt Wyatt Aera Energy, Derek Poultney Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, Michelle Newell Aera Energy and Ron Henry  Aera Energy.
Unveiling the bike rack are Christy Weir Ventura City Council, Jay Licata Aera Energy, Matt Wyatt Aera Energy, Derek Poultney Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, Michelle Newell Aera Energy and Ron Henry  Aera Energy.

On Saturday, Nov. 19, more than 20 volunteers joined the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy (VHC) at their Big Rock Nature Preserve near Foster Park to plant willow tree cuttings and unveil a bike rack that was recently installed on the property. Donated by Aera Energy, the bike rack is just one of many improvements VHC has made at Big Rock over the past year.

“We appreciate the work VHC does to protect the environment and are happy to provide this bike rack to the community,” said Michele Newell, public affairs specialist for Aera Energy. “We hope that riders pedaling along the Ventura-Ojai bike trail will stop, lock up their bikes and explore the beautiful Big Rock Nature Preserve.”

The 17- acre Big Rock Preserve is a collection of properties owned by VHC. The name Big Rock comes from a once-popular swimming hole on the property that was home to a large boulder before floods swept it away. Though the boulder is gone, the water remains.

VHC has spent the past year planting more than 500 trees, clearing invasive plants and creating trails at the Big Rock Nature Preserve. The nonprofit land trust hosts volunteer work events on the third Saturday of each month. To find out about future volunteer opportunities, visit www.venturahillsides.org and click on the events tab.

The Ventura Hillsides Conservancy is dedicated to preserving and protecting Ventura’s hillsides, rivers and wildlife.  Founded in 2003, the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization is supported by over 450 members, local business, community stakeholders and government partners.  The land trust currently owns 28 acres of land along the Ventura River and is actively fundraising for hillside property on the Walker-Hearne Ranch in east Ventura. For more information about the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy, visit: www.venturahillsides.org.

About Aera Energy: Aera Energy is proud to be a respected and responsible California oil company accounting for nearly 25 percent of the state’s oil production.


New discovery of native peoples of San Nicolas Island in 19th Century Los Angeles

sannicolasDuring the December From Shore to Sea Lecture, Susan Morris, a local researcher and writer, will discuss new research into the 1835 removal of native peoples from San Nicolas Island (the Nicoleños) and give details about their lives in the growing city of Los Angeles.

The story of the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island has fascinated people for generations and formed the basis for the popular children’s book, Island of the Blue Dolphins. In 1835, the Nicoleños were removed from their island home, except for one woman, who remained on the island for 18 years. In 1853, she sailed to Santa Barbara with George Nidever. Efforts were made to find people who could communicate with her, but the she died seven weeks later, unable to fully share her story.

Morris will discuss new research using provincial Mexican papers, Los Angeles documents, American records, and church registers, which identified the Lone Woman’s people in Los Angeles. At least five men, women, and children are confirmed or are likely to have come to Los Angeles from San Nicolas Island in 1835.

Susan Morris is a researcher and writer who has been involved in Channel Islands research since 1987. She has participated in field studies on seven of the eight Channel Islands, working on archaeology, paleontology, geology, and biology projects. Morris was the principle investigator of a cave-associated archaeological site survey in Wreck Canyon, Santa Rosa Island. Her recent focus has been historical research on events related to the life of the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island.

The talk will be held on Thursday, December 8. The From Shore to Sea lecture series is sponsored by Channel Islands National Park to further the understanding of current research on the Channel Islands and surrounding marine waters. The 2016 lecture series will take place at 7:00 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month, January through December, at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center in Ventura Harbor. This extended schedule is in honor of the National Park Service’s milestone centennial anniversary, which celebrates 100 years of national parks. The programs are free and open to the public.

This lecture can also be viewed live online at: http://www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/live-programs.htm.

Lectures are recorded and posted at: http://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/photosmultimedia/from-shore-to-sea-lecture-videos.htm.

Scorpion Pier is open for use

scorpion pierChannel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau announced that the damaged pier at Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island has been replaced and is open for visitor landings.

The pier was closed last December due to damages caused by high surf. It was a flatbed railcar that was installed as a temporary pier in 2000 and had deteriorated due to wave action and saltwater corrosion.

The flatbed railcar was removed and replaced with an elevated aluminum gangway. This is a short-term solution as the park expects to construct a new pier in approximately two years. The elevated gangway will be reused as part of the new pier.

Scorpion Anchorage is the most visited destination in the park, with over 65,000 people coming ashore each year to enjoy recreational activities such as hiking, picnicking, camping, kayaking, and swimming.

Teen volunteers and women head of households

Soroptimist International of Ventura, a local service club for business and professional women with the goal of making a difference in the lives of women and girls, announces that applications are now available for two scholarships.

Women who serve as the primary wage earners for their families and seek assistance to go back to school or receive special training can apply for the Live your Dream Award (Formerly the Women’s Opportunity Award) to help them improve their skills, education or training to upgrade their employment status.  SI Ventura’s cash award will be a minimum of $1,500 and the winner is eligible for additional regional and international awards. Applications are available at Ventura College, from Sherri Tarpchinoff Bennett and online at www.soroptimistventura.org. Applications must be received by January 15, 2017 at SI Ventura, P.O. Box 6133, Ventura, CA 93006 or by following the online instructions.

Teen volunteers are encouraged to apply for the Violet Richardson Award which honors young women for their volunteer efforts in their school or community in such areas as fighting drugs, crime and violence, improving the environment, feeding those in need, working to end discrimination and poverty. It is awarded annually to a Ventura teen, ages 14-17 and her volunteer organization. The minimum award from SI Ventura is $1,500. Applications are available in the Counseling offices of Buena High School, Foothill Technological High School, El Camino High School, St. Bonaventure High School and Ventura High School. You may also download the application online at www.soroptimistventura.org.   Applications must be returned by January 15, 2017 to SI Ventura, P.O. Box 6133, Ventura, CA 93006 or by following the online instructions.

Breeze Recipes – Savory cheese and onion pie

Savory Cheese & Tomato PieSavory cheese and onion pie
by Randy Graham-Writer, author and private chef


  • 1 frozen pastry crust (pre-bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves (torn into pieces)
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 medium sweet yellow onions
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (grated fine)
  • 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese (course grate or cut into thin strips)
  • 12 Kalamata olives (pitted and sliced lengthwise)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in on medium heat and sauté the garlic in it for a few minutes.  Add the tomatoes and their juice, ½ teaspoon of the salt, parsley, basil, and black pepper to taste.  Simmer this sauce, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced by about half.  It should be quite thick. Set aside.

Peel, halve, and thickly slice the onions. Sauté in butter until golden. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Now you can assemble the pie. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the bottom of the pre-baked pastry crust.  Arrange the onion slices over the cheese in an even layer.  Cover the onions with the tomato sauce. Arrange the mozzarella cheese evenly on top of the sauce.   Sprinkle the olive slices over the mozzarella and bake the pie for 35 minutes. Allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes before serving.

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Do you have a favorite recipe that you would like to share with Breeze readers? Send it (and photo) to editor@venturabreeze.com