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Posted on March 14, 2014

Bakersfield: PG&E-Sponsored Dust Bowl Event Attracts Families

By Tracy Correa

Magdalena Juarez, a member of the geology club at CSU Bakersfield, uses a blower to show children how damp dirt is more difficult to move compared to dry. (Photos by Tracy Correa.)

BAKERSFIELD – Children and their families were able to see and even taste a little of what Dust Bowl residents might have experienced in the 1930s at the Science of the Dust Bowl exhibit at California State University, Bakersfield on Saturday (March 15).

The interactive program, provided with financial assistance from PG&E, was one of several by CSUB celebrating the 75th anniversary of the “Grapes of Wrath”, the John Steinbeck novel that detailed a family’s migration from Oklahoma to California in search of a better life during the Great Depression.

Donna Bulford, who brought her 6-year-old daughter Ali and a friend to the event, said she was glad to see a program that taught children about such an important part of history. She said it was especially meaningful because so many families during the Dust Bowl era ended up settling in Bakersfield and the Central Valley.

“It was neat and the kids had a great time. It was a really good activity to teach them about the Dust Bowl,” said Bulford.

A few steps away from her mother, Ali watched a demonstration of how dirt blows easily when dry compared to when it is damp. The demonstration, presented by CSU Bakersfield’s student geology club, was just one of the lessons geared toward children.

Ali Bulford, 6, watches a demonstration on how dust blows as part of the Science of the Dust Bowl event on Saturday at CSU Bakersfield.

Another booth provided examples of what people ate during the depression-era Dust Bowl: Beans, corn bread, moldy butter and even tumbleweed.

Children also had fun jumping around in a bounce house leading up to a lesson on how dust affects respiratory systems. And they walked away with giveaways and coloring books with Dust Bowl-related themes.

PG&E provided $30,000 in funding to the university to support the CSUB School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering, which spearheaded the community event. Some of this funding supported the Science of the Dust Bowl program.

For a complete listing of community events in Kern County related to the 75th anniversary of the “Grapes of Wrath,” click here.


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