A highlight of my job is visiting the many education programs that we support through our redwood education grants. This year we supported 24 parks, schools and non-profits so they could bring over 6,000 students to our beautiful redwood forests.
This week I was able to visit a program close to home at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens (external link). If you have never been there, then you should definitely go! They have a wonderful redwood forest complete with sow bugs, sword ferns, redwood sorrel and our mighty giants. The day I was there, I observed 18 kindergarten students exploring the forest with their senses. They smelled redwood needles, felt the bark of trees, held bugs in their hands and listened for birds. This program was a great introduction to the forest for these little ones. When a child is 6 or 7, the best way to educate them about the environment is to let them explore and discover things on their own. Give children the opportunity to create lasting memories based on what they feel, hear and see while on their field trip. The Botanical Garden’s program, Smallest Kids, Tallest Trees, does just that: garden staff impress students with the towering height of redwoods, let them explore the forest on their own, and really give them time to create those memories and pique their interest so they return again and again.
This program shows the power of using a city park to introduce youth to our amazing natural environment. Not everyone has the opportunity to travel to Humboldt Redwoods or Yosemite. However, visiting a park in their city can be a stepping stone to exploring the wilderness beyond their zip code.
You can find out more about our education grants on our education program webpage. Check back at the end of May to apply for the 2015-2016 year.