Our Redwood Classrooms

Bay Area residents got a sneak peek into the hopes and dreams of the Department of the Interior last week when Secretary Sally Jewell came to Crissy Field (external link) to announce the department’s new campaign to connect the next generation of Americans with nature.

Students measure fern fronds through a Save the Redwoods League education program at Redwood Regional Park. Photo ©Save the Redwoods League.
Students measure fern fronds through a Save the Redwoods League education program at Redwood Regional Park. Photo ©Save the Redwoods League.

We at Save the Redwoods League were thrilled to hear Secretary Jewell’s commitment to repairing “the disconnect between young people and the great outdoors.”  As more and more Americans live in cities and the younger generation is increasingly tied to structured activities and electronic entertainment, our parks and green spaces have never been more critical to our well-being.

Some historical context: California’s coast redwoods and our national and state parks go way back.  Stephen  Mather was a key player in the League’s formation and was the first head of the National Park Service. The League’s founders were instrumental in the creation of the California State Parks committee and in the growth of some 40 redwood state parks.  And in many ways, the magnificent redwoods helped to define the land ethic of the last century – the appreciation of nature for reasons beyond the usefulness and monetary value of its individual components. That paradigm shift in turn spurred the conservation movement.  It is because of that natural progression from a love of redwoods to a deeper commitment to land conservation that the League invests in our education program.

So it was no surprise that while Secretary Jewell was announcing the Obama administration’s plan to help connect the next generation with the outdoors through programs in national parks, the League’s Education & Interpretation Manager, Deborah Zierten, was already putting that plan into action in one of the Bay Area’s remarkable outdoor classrooms, Redwood Regional Park.

With about 35 ninth-grade students from Skyline High in Oakland, Deborah was sharing our science team’s research and techniques studying the impacts of climate change on our redwood forest.  The students measured and observed sword ferns and duff, and practiced the data recording central to the scientific method. They got to learn firsthand how the redwoods are saving us (from carbon sequestration to water filtration), and all the ways we are working to save them.

We at the League eagerly support the National Park Service’s investment in outdoor education and recreation to inspire the next generation to love and care for the outdoors.  You can show your support and help us build the bridge between our young people and our outstanding natural resources by supporting our education programs, learning and sharing more about our redwood research, or even better, taking a kid you love for a walk in the redwoods.

Check out the Family Guide to the Coast Redwoods and Family Guide to the Giant Sequoias for a wealth of resources that make it fun, simple and educational to bring kids to the redwoods.

About the author

President and Chief Enthusiast for the Outdoors (CEO) of Save the Redwoods League, Sam brings more than 25 years of experience in overseeing land conservation programs from the remote wilderness to the inner city.

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