ACORNS TO OAKS: YOUTH ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROGRAM
The amount of time children spend in front of screens is at an all-time high and many of the students at Banning High School have never been on a hike in the wilderness. Rivers & Lands Conservancy staff Nicole Padron and Rachael Hamilton wanted to help change that. Their pilot Acorns to Oaks program launched in 2015 with one class of freshmen, teaching oak ecology at school and then bringing them to Rivers & Lands Conservancy’s Cienega Canyon Preserve where their lessons could come alive.
It's only a 15-minute drive, but as students step off the bus and begin hiking toward the coast live oak woodland, their classroom becomes wild. "Look! That's the woodpecker that eats acorns," one of the kids calls out. Another points out a squirrel disappearing on the hillside. They find deer tracks, coyote scat, white sage, and experiment with the incredible sticking power of a cocklebur. All of them are having experiences in nature that are new and indelible. It's these moments that help them understand why they are learning about oak ecology, gathering acorns, and helping with woodland restoration. They discover that everything is connected and wild places matter.
It is because of partners and supporters like you, that we look forward to an eighth year of providing Acorns to Oaks to our local students.
"It is good leaving society and to be back in nature." ~Oskar.
"I saw things other people haven't seen, like the cool trees." ~Chasen
Acorns to Oaks introduces under-served high school biology students to oak ecology and stewardship through hands-on restoration of native coast live oak woodland at Cienega Canyon Preserve. Through in-class presentations and engaging field trips, youth learn about the local native landscape and how they can make a difference in preserving it for future generations. In this no-cost program, students gather acorns, germinate them, and plant seedlings, while studying the habitat and many plants and animals that depend on it.
ABOUT CIENEGA CANYON PRESERVE
The 358-acre Cienega Canyon Preserve is located in San Timoteo Canyon in the city of Calimesa and borders on the city of Beaumont. It is an area of diverse habitats including riparian woodland along a perennial creek, coastal sage scrub and chaparral on the steep rugged hillsides, oak woodland nestled the valleys and a seasonally-flooded cienega. Rivers & Lands Conservancy engages the public and other partners in habitat restoration programs, outdoor recreation, and education activities on the Preserve.
SUPPORT OUTDOOR EDUCATION
Interested in helping to shape our future conservation leaders? Donate or become a member! We depend on support from grantors, corporate sponsors, and community members to offer these free programs to youth in our region.
Thank you for helping our kids explore, connect, and care about wild open spaces and their future.