NatureNerdFest @ Mare Island

This is a past event

35 people went

San Francisco Bay Estuary Field Station

505 Azuar Drive · Vallejo, CA

How to find us

Informal carpools from Oakland and scheduled Richmond BART/Amtrak Station @ 9:45 and 10:45, drive takes 30 minutes. Capitol Corridor connects from San Jose/Sacramento/Auburn just before these carpools leave. RSVP for a ride to organizer Ken McGary.

Location image of event venue


If you are attending or thinking of attending this event, please review the NerdFest Info Page ( If you'd like to join a carpool from Richmond Station, or from Sacramento Area, please fill out this short Carpool Reservation Form ( Feel Free to make carpool arrangements here on the Meetup comments, as well. See you there!

If you are driving and get lost, call the USGS Field Station at[masked] and they will try to help you with directions. The Carpool Hotline is the N4N Google Voice number,[masked], call or text any time of day or night if something changes about your trip, like you can’t make it or you will be arriving for the earlier or later Richmond carpool. If you’re running a few minutes late, call the Google Voice number and we’ll do what we can to wait for you.

A leisurely option for getting home is the Bay Ferry (, just a quick lift away. Leaves Vallejo @ 2:30 PM, arriving SF Ferry Building @ 3:30 PM where you can pick up BART/Muni, and leaving Vallejo @ 5:15 PM, arriving Ferry Building 6:40 PM via Pier 41.

The talented and dedicated scientists of the US Geological Survey’s Western Ecological Research Center ( have invited us Nature Nerds to visit their field station on Mare Island! They are responsible for monitoring and understanding some amazing coastal habitats from Puget Sound ( to the Mexican border. We’ll be looking for ways we can collaborate and help them solve some of their more vexing technical problems.

So come join us for a day of nature fun and technical brainstorming, thrilling demonstrations and nerdy camaraderie! We’ll start with some fun orientation events, see some awesome eco-drone flight tests, then have a yummy lunch and sneak in a little bioblitzing before we get down to a seriously nerdy brainsmash. [Not to worry, in case of bad weather we'll still have dry places inside to play with the toys].

Besides all that, it’s a unique opportunity to visit this interesting outpost on the front lines of environmental monitoring and research. Mare Island ( is an abandoned naval base that is now part of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge ( The views are stunning and the wildlife is intriguing ( Don’t miss this first-ever Nerds For Nature / USGS special field event!

aerial photo of Mare Island from Wikipedia (


10AM -- Welcome & Orientation: Tour including Building 505 ( @ 10:30

11AM -- Flight For Nature: UAV Demos & Test Flights (weather permitting)

Noon -- Holiday Potluck: Bring a Dish!

Bonus "How To Bioblitz" & microblitz working lunch

1PM -- The Big Picture: Technical Presentations

2PM -- Hands On Hardware: Prototype Displays, Demos, and Discussions

Bonus Dessert Break!

3PM -- Dreaming & Scheming: What's Next and Why?

4PM -- Goodbyes & Cleanup

Carpools leave for Richmond BART/Amtrak

(See this spreadsheet ( for morning and afternoon Amtrak/BART/carpool connections)

image courtesy of KopterVision (

Technologies and Concepts We'll Cover:

• Water sensors (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth, pH, turbidity, etc.)

• Aerial HD videography, high-resolution spectral imaging for vegetation analysis, ranging ( technologies including LiDAR to track geomorphology (, radio tracking of migrating wildlife using drones, multicopters, kites, balloons, and other UAVs

• Environmentally-hardened low-power sensor networks, including outdoor enclosures, smart buoys, solar power, and wireless (wifi/BLE/GSM/XBee/etc.)

• GIS and mapping of environmental data, management of remote sensors using cloud-based systems and Internet of Things

• Image processing and analysis, and crowdsourced research software (making a fun game out of looking for rare birds in camera trap photos, for example)

If you have skillz in any of these areas, please contact Ken McGary to find out how you can join in the techie fun.