Child Left Inside” Environmental Education Programs –
Grades 3 – 12
children environmental programs are developed to reconcile with
California Department of Education’s science requirements
and augment each participating school and classroom’s natural
and environmental science mandates. SRPF funds, develops and implements
the following 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.
- Habitat Studies and Restoration Program
The following programs are developed
and implemented in collaboration with Murrieta Valley Unified
School District (MVUSD), California Department of Fish and Game
(CDFG) and the University of California/Riverside’s Botany
5th Grade Seed Bank Studies
Students develop an awareness of a public land what restoration
means. They will conduct a seed bank study and learn how
to grow native plants.
Middle School Grassland Restoration
Students gain awareness of how environments and habitats
become altered and endangered and how that affects our world.
They develop a restoration plan on at least one habitat
on the Reserve and learn how to articulate elements of the
habitat. Students experience the actual work associated
with restoration of an altered habitat, and learn field
biology/ecology techniques and terminology in the process.
High School Habitat Studies and
Students develop advanced restoration and field biology/ecology
techniques, skills and conclusion analysis. They experience
and learn how humans affect and alter the environment. An
integral component of this phase of the program is the development
of mentoring activities with the elementary students in
the 5th grade seed bank study.
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.
- Community 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.