and Research Programs
The Foundation funds and supports the following
education and research programs:
- Third Grade
(8,000 students per year from 8 school districts and 70 schools)
In 1994, thanks to funding from the Metropolitan Water District
of Southern California, the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve
began a program to introduce third graders to the natural environment
in which they live. Many of these children had never been outside
a city environment before. They had never walked a trail, seen
a coyote, lizard, squirrel, woodpecker
or any other animal in the wild. They had no idea of their connection
to Nature. The curriculum begins in the classroom and is coupled
with an outdoor program at the Plateau. The trail experience
is led by volunteer Docents who use age-appropriate story-telling
techniques and hands-on experiences to involve the students.
The children hear about our local history and the Native American
influence on the Reserve.
Since then, over 85,000 children have been through this program.
The success of this program is evident in the children's faces,
and the enthusiastic way they participate in later discussions
in their classrooms. The program sometimes is the first educational
connection with children who have had trouble in school. The
success is underscored by the children who return to the Santa
Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve within weeks and bring their
parents. Unfortunately, the Metropolitan Water District discontinued
the funding for this program after the 2004-2005 school year.
The Santa Rosa Plateau Foundation was formed to raise money
to continue this extremely important program.
- Outreach to
Title 1 Schools
The Outreach Program was designed to reach out to those schools
and students who, because of funding, language or opportunity
may have never been exposed or introduced to the animals, habitats
or plants of the natural world. Eight and nine year old bring
their own set of experiences and interests to the Reserve. No
matter what the previous experience or lack thereof, regarding
the outdoors, children benefit from an introduction to the Reserve
before they visit. Besides relieving anxieties about wild animals
such as snakes and cougars, lessons about the Reserve prior
to the visit build excitement and reduce previous time spent
on rules and reassurances during their visit.
The “Animal Letters” sent to classrooms before the
school’s visit are also intended to introduce students
to the natural history concepts that are required in California’s
elementary curriculum. It is hoped that the exposure to such
concepts as habitat, food web, and photosynthesis beforehand
will better allow the field experiences to these subjects to
resonate with the students. By introducing students to the Reserve
and these mandated concepts in a classroom setting, the following
trip to the Reserve reinforces these biological concepts with
hands-on experiences on the trail.
Title 1 schools (low to moderate income student populations)
are invited to participate in the program. A team of volunteer
Docents travel to the classroom in advance of school’s
visit to the Reserve bringing with them a wide array of displays
and hands-on activities. The students get to touch, smell, and
study live plants and animal artifacts and displays to prepare
them for their trip to the Reserve.
- Family Wildlife
A day in the Fall set aside for families to learn, touch and
see the animals that live on and pass through the Reserve. Speakers
and hands-on demonstrations are offered throughout the day on
a number of topics including turtles, insects, birds of prey
and the wonders of wildlife. Displays of mounted animals,
nature games for the children and their parents, and craft activities
are conducted. It's a great chance to get the kids away from
video games and out of doors on a crisp Fall day.
- Grassland Restoration Project - Middle
This program is an innovative and
collaborative natural science project to restore historic acres
of grassland on the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve (Reserve).
The “Historic Grassland Restoration Project” was
proposed by the Santa Rosa Plateau Foundation (SRPF) to fulfill
its goal to reach the older elementary students by providing
children education, research and preservation programs and projects
at the Reserve.
In collaboration with Murrieta Valley Unified
School District (MVUSD) and the California Department of Fish
and Game (CDFG), SRPF developed an RFP that is sent each school
year to middle schools. The proposal asked that science classrooms
or science clubs submit how they would restore the selected
grassland area to its natural state. Their response is to
include research, education and preservation goals, steps
and timelines, and it must include middle school grade level
natural science standards in the process.
The proposals are reviewed by MVUSD,
SRPF and Reserve Management. Those classrooms with successful
proposals are awarded grants from SRPF to cover the costs
of transportation, teacher release time, tools, and research
and curriculum materials. Students perform the work themselves
under the direction of the Reserve Manager.
- Community Wildlife Photography Classes
Community Education Classes are for those
who desire to capture and experience different aspectsof the
natural world. Class fees are a tax-deductible donation to the
Santa Rosa Plateau Foundation in support of the children education
programs at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve.
- Cougar Research
The Foundation is pleased be able to work with University of
California Davis’ Wildlife Research Center to raise funds
for an on-going research project on the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological
Reserve to track and document the behaviors and movements of
the California Cougar.