Cal Humanities

"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

The Elkhorn Slough estuary with water, surrounding hills, and grass.

The Elkhorn Slough Reserve Exhibit via Video

The “Cultural Heritage and Historical Ecology of the Elkhorn Slough Woven Across Time” is a multi-media project to strengthen the public’s understanding of the connections between natural and human communities in the region. The new exhibit incorporates a digital touch screen, audio recordings, and historical artifacts, weaving accounts from native peoples, early Spaniards, local Mexican farmers, and other residents into the story of ecological changes produced by humans and natural forces. Recordings from recently collected oral history interviews of local farmers, families, and neighbors will complement journal entries, news articles, and other historical artifacts dating back to the 1700s. The new exhibit will also include an interactive timeline that will allow area students, rural neighbors, and everyday visitors to explore the cultural and ecological changes that have occurred in parallel across the Elkhorn Slough watershed from before the establishment of Spanish missions to the present. The reserve is currently open, but the visitor center is closed. Learn more about visiting the reserve and center here. This project was supported by a Humanities for All Project Grant awarded in December 2017. 

View this video to learn more about the project, exhibit, and community. 

The Elkhorn Slough Reserve–Woven in Time: A Cultural Heritage & Ecological History: Courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and NOAA.

About the Project Director:
Virginia Guhin is the Education and Visitor Programs Coordinator at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve at Moss Landing, situated on Monterey Bay near Watsonville, in California’s Central Coast region. Virginia has 25 years of marine science education and outreach experience in Monterey Bay, developing and presenting programs that use science as a basis of the learning experience. Virginia received a biology degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz and received her teaching credentials from San Jose State University. Virginia’s background in marine science and her interest in the social science behind science communication are strengths that enable her to engage diverse audiences around coastal conservation issues. You can reach her at

About the project’s Humanities Advisor:
Andrea Woolfolk has worked as the Stewardship Coordinator at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve for over 20 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from California State University, Chico, and received a Master’s degree in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. While working on her thesis project on human disturbances in Elkhorn Slough salt marshes, she fell in love with the Reserve and has not left since. Today, she oversees the Reserve’s habitat restoration and protection program, and her work emphasizes the management of tidal wetlands and grasslands. She is broadly interested in salt marsh ecology, restoration science, and historical ecology.


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