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Escondido Creek Conservancy’s outdoor classroom connects students with nature

Children participating in an Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve field trip.

Imagine a world where every student, in every grade, receives a field trip in nature. In Escondido, the Escondido Creek Conservancy is well on the way to making this dream a reality. 

Outdoor education has astounding benefits for children, including improving health, mental wellbeing, and academic performance. Last school year, The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) brought all 3rd grade students in the Escondido Union School District out to the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve to learn about habitats. 

The Conservancy’s partners at San Diego Zoo Global and Nature Collective brought all 4th and 5th grade students and half of 6th grade students in the district out into nature as well. This year, the collaboration has expanded to include Friends of Daley Ranch as a partner and serve all 7th grade students in Escondido. 

The Conservancy’s Habitats program involves a series of classroom lessons followed by a field trip to the Elfin Forest. Immersed in nature, students engage in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) science while learning about local wildlife that live in and around the creek. After the trip, the children write letters to corporations and local government representatives to address the problem of litter in their community and propose solutions.

“Many of the students that come out to Elfin Forest have never been outside the urban center of Escondido,” says the Conservancy’s Education Manager, Jennifer Imm. “These field trips are an opportunity for students to experience the natural world for the first time and learn what they can do to help protect it.” 

Research has shown that the best way to get students to care about the environment is to let them experience nature—not just once, but multiple times. Through the larger collaboration, students in Escondido will receive at least five different outdoor education experiences and gain the training they need to become stewards of our environment.

You can help instill a passion for nature in Escondido students by volunteering to help with the Conservancy’s field trips, which take place on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Education Director, Simon Breen at simon@escondidocreek.org. You can also help our education programs by donating to the Eichen Education Fund. Visit escondidocreek.org/eichenedfund for more information.

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