For many people, September symbolizes the start of school: time to pack away the camping gear and get out the pencils, paper and backpacks. Vacations in the redwoods come to a close and are replaced by the routine of shuttling kids to soccer practice and music lessons. But here at the League, the season of getting students into the forest is just beginning.
This year we awarded more than $102,000 in grants to a total of 25 schools, park interpretive associations and nonprofit organizations in California to get students into redwood forests. A new twist to this year’s program is that we require every grantee to have a field trip component to their project, ensuring that thousands of students have an opportunity to feel redwood bark, look for banana slugs and crawl inside a redwood goose pen.
This year, Tracy Roll’s class from Independent High School will take a trip to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where they will learn about its communities of plants and animals and the effect of human interaction on them. Convent of the Sacred Heart biology students will travel to Muir Woods National Monument and Big Basin Redwoods State Park to sample redwood needles and conduct genetic analysis on these awe-inspiring trees. And hundreds of low-income students from all over the Bay Area will go on solo hikes and encounter banana slugs in redwood forests with Vida Verde Nature Center.
Multiple studies have shown that getting students out into nature can have tremendous benefits to personal and academic growth. Field trips can allow students to build confidence, enhance leadership skills and pique their natural sense of curiosity. Cultivating that love of learning is exactly what we like to do here at the League.
I look forward to reporting on our many inspiring education projects in the spring. To see a complete list of our education grantees, please visit our Education Grants webpage.