Toris Jaeger and others organized Wagner Ranch Nature Area's first Olive Festival last October. Whereas that event focused on the site's olive grove, planted by the pioneering Wagner family, the upcoming Earth Day festivities will be different in nature.

"The Earth Day Festival is all about celebrating and providing choices for living on the earth with all the other living creatures and the resources we use to sustain our lives, water, air, soil and plants," Jaeger said in an e-mail.

The 10th annual Wildlife/Earth Day Festival takes place April 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Wagner Ranch Nature Area, next to Wagner Ranch Elementary School, 350 Camino Pablo Road in Orinda.

The Friends of the Wagner Ranch Nature Area will conduct this free program to celebrate and support environmental education programs in the Nature Area.

The Nature Area is 18 acres of meadow, forest, ponds, and streams with San Pablo Creek flowing along one side. It is the site of California's first Surveyor General Theodore Wagner's Oak View Ranch. The site has been an environmental classroom for Orinda school children for more than 30 years.

On the bill are Times wildlife expert and columnist Gary Bogue, Lindsay Wildlife Museum activities, a Winter Chevrolet electric Volt to test drive, a raptor show by Jenny Papka, Math in the Garden with Jenny Maguire, native plants for your garden and others. For more information, go to www.fwrna.org


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Long funded by the school district, the nature area programs were cut by the district in 2009. Jaeger retired in 2009, rather than accept a conventional indoor classroom teaching post, and retains her close connection with the nature area, whose programs Jaeger led for 32 years are now kept going by the nonprofit Friends of the Wagner Ranch Nature Area.

"The Friends of the WRNA has had good success this year raising funds for the outdoor environmental education programs for Orinda children in third, fourth and fifth grades," said Kathy Barrett of the Friends group. Students from Orinda Intermediate School and Miramonte High School have continued to volunteer in the nature area, barrette said, and Eagle Scouts have been making improvements to the interpretive signs there.

And Jaeger and her aides continue to host area classes for educational hikes, gardening lessons, Indian Camp, Rancho Days and lessons in history, math and science.