About 800 Escondido students will be among the beneficiaries of a San Diego Foundation grant of $400,300 that will be used to connect, protect and increase access to green space and nature throughout the region for area youths through field trips. San Diego Zoo Backyard Biodiversity Hotspot – $35,577
In collaboration with the Escondido Creek Conservancy and Escondido Union School District, the project will create a three-part program for 800 underserved students. The program will include one environmental education classroom session, a trip to the Outdoor Learning Lab, and a field trip to the Elfin Forest Reserve for hands-on experience. Students will learn environmental techniques such as water testing, trap data collection, and plant and animal identification. The partnership will also develop a new online curriculum available to all teachers online.
Another grant that will be spent in the Escondido area is the San Dieguito Watershed Explorers Program – $25,000.
The project will expand nature education programs to the San Dieguito watershed by taking students to different areas along the 55-mile stretch of land. Instructors will help students recognize the role they play in keeping the natural community a thriving ecosystem, and new training resources for docents will enhance the quality of the outdoor experiences. San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy will enlist the support of the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority, San Diego Archaeological Center and Volcan Mountain Foundation.
The 2016 Opening the Outdoors Program grants and will support education and environmental efforts across San Diego, focusing on cross-organization collaboration among regional partners.
“The abundance of outdoor space and access to nature are reasons why residents and visitors alike cherish our region for its stunning natural beauty,” explained Emily Young, vice president of community impact at the San Diego Foundation. “These projects reflect a commitment by The San Diego Foundation and our donors to maintain and enhance our cherished resources, and create opportunities for all youth and families to experience the outdoors.”
The Opening the Outdoors Program was established in 2012 in response to key findings in Parks for Everyone, a 2010 report commissioned by The San Diego Foundation that found while 45% of San Diego County’s total land area is green space, many low-income, ethnically diverse communities have limited access to parks and open spaces. The Opening the Outdoors program closes this gap by providing more equitable opportunities for San Diego youth to grow up with access to nature and similar, shared experiences outside.