A group of 7th and 8th grade students from E. A. Hall Middle School in Watsonville were able to participate in Web of Life Field (WOLF) School’s Growing Redwood Stewards project at Camp Monte Toyon in Aptos, CA on December 20, 2016, thanks to a WOLF School scholarship and funding from a County of Santa Cruz Fish and Game Advisory Council grant.
Initially began in 2012, the goal of WOLF School’s Growing Redwood Stewards project is to inspire the next generation of redwood forest stewards by building students’ respect, appreciation, and knowledge of the redwoods through hands-on wildlife studies and science activities, including WOLF School’s Redwood Data Study (begun in 2009) and Salamander Study (collecting data and reporting since 1998). The 2016 County of Santa Cruz Fish and Game Advisory Commission grant enabled WOLF School to reach a new group of students and future redwood stewards, by directly funding a day trip for 30 underserved Monterey Bay area students to participate in WOLF School’s Growing Redwood Stewards project at Camp Monte Toyon, located in the redwood forest and adjacent to Nisene Marks State Park, in Aptos, CA.
In selecting whom to award the grant, WOLF School Director Heather Butler reached out to under-resourced local schools who are traditionally unable to fund field trips or outdoor education programs for their students. E. A. Hall Middle School, located in Watsonville, met the criteria for the grant award, and were invited to Camp Monte Toyon to participate in WOLF School’s Growing Redwood Stewards project. They enthusiastically agreed, yet quickly ran into yet another hurdle potentially keeping their students from this outdoor experience: the County of Santa Cruz Fish and Game grant covered the day program, not transportation to the program site, and transportation costs are one of the biggest hindrances to field trips for schools like E.A. Hall Middle School. Not wanting to let this opportunity slip away from the students, WOLF School awarded E. A. Hall Middle School a WOLF School scholarship covering the costs of transportation, in addition to the County of Santa Cruz Fish & Game grant award.
“Without the grant and scholarship we wouldn’t have been able to go on this trip,” said E. A. Hall Middle School teacher Xavier Rubio. “Our district doesn't budget for field trips and the most expensive cost is the bus. I was thrilled that we got the grant, and that WOLF School was willing to give an additional $400 towards the cost of the bus. My students and I are very grateful for this opportunity!”
Though Watsonville is located just 10 miles south of Aptos, December 20th marked many of the students’ first visit to the redwoods. The group of 30 7th and 8th graders were welcomed to camp by WOLF School, where they got to explore, discover and learn about the redwoods and the importance of stewardship. From measuring and mapping California’s central coast redwoods, locating and recording salamander species data in their student field journals, learning about salamander habitats and redwood ecology, and sharing and presenting redwood and salamander data—the students actively participated in the redwood forest’s web of life, experiencing firsthand everything from the smallest baby red-bellied newt to some of the tallest and oldest Sequoia sempervirens on earth.
“For most of our students, spending a day in the redwoods is a rarity,” continued Mr. Rubio. “Some of my students have said this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience because of their lack of experience in the woods. We read about ecology, man’s relationship to nature, and climate change but to get students to really understand and appreciate nature we need to get them outside. I think this is the best education and I wish we had more opportunities to go on field trips and do real science like what we are doing here at WOLF School today. I incorporate as much as I can in the classroom but nothing beats getting the students out in the real world!”
WOLF School strives to make its K-12th grade outdoor education programs available to students of all economic and social backgrounds, by providing scholarships to eligible schools and their students. Homebased at Little Basin Cabins & Campgrounds in the Santa Cruz Mountains’ redwood forest and operating at equally stunning campuses throughout California, WOLF School began its scholarship program—supported through donations, merchandise sales, and by grant funding—in 1998, and has since then helped to connect thousands of California’s students, teachers, and families with nature by building a bridge from urban home communities to state forests, beaches, mountains, and wildlife.
By donating to WOLF School’s Scholarship Fund you help more students have life-changing outdoor experiences. Click here to make a difference today!