Over 930 students and adult chaperones joined CIR on 27 school fieldtrips to the Channel Islands so far this year, with funding raised primarily by our staff and board members. Most of these students are from low-income districts that cannot afford the costs for this type of fieldtrip, and our program gives cash-strapped schools a chance to visit the Channel Islands and students a chance to participate in important restoration projects.
Our program this year targeted primarily 5
grade classes from Ventura County districts, but schools from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara also participated. The trips were to Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island where the students helped CIR with invasive plant removal and helped propagate native plants. Some of the schools paid the cost of the boat and transportation, but the vast majority benefited from grant funding that CIR staff and board members raised from Federal, State and private sources.
Students from Ventura pose by their handiwork on Anacapa
CIR staff visited most of the schools before the trips to provide comprehensive PowerPoint presentations highlighting the special nature of the Channel Islands and the Marine Sanctuary and background on the restoration projects. Special effort was made to highlight the connection between mainland watersheds and the health of the marine ecosystem. This included examples of what happens to storm water runoff and how pollution in city streets can end up in the ocean. For the 5
grade classes, this instruction was specifically designed to address elements in the school curriculum. As a requirement of some of the grant funding, the students were tested before and after the trip to gauge how much they had learned about the islands, marine sanctuary and conservation issues.
Holy Cross School students receive instruction on Santa Cruz Island
All of the grant funding targeted low-income school districts, and few of the students had ever visited the Channel Islands or even ever been on a boat before. The boat and bus transportation, plus modest staff costs for an average size class, cost around $2,400, so a great deal of grant funding is needed to fund so many trips. Funding for this type of program is highly competitive and the grants are difficult to administer, but the results are more than worth it. The kids are always eager to help with the restoration project, and they make a valuable contribution to our work.
This is the fifth year of the CIR school program, and our busiest yet! CIR staff worked hard to arrange dates with the schools, book the transportation, and organize the complicated paperwork required for a trip of this kind. These trips would not have been possible without a great deal of logistical support from the Park Service and a discounted rate from Island Packers. CIR plans to raise additional funding from private sources for the 2012 school year.
Schools/youth groups participating in CIR island trips:
Caesar Chavez Elementary, Oxnard (6 trips)
EP Foster Elementary, Ventura (2 trips)
Holly Cross School, Ventura (2 trips)
Meiners Oaks Elementary, Meiners Oaks (3 trips)
Mira Monte Elementary, Ojai (1 trip)
Oak Grove School, Ojai (1 trip)
San Antonio School, Ojai (1 trip)
Santa Barbara Charter School, Santa Barbara (1 trip)
Sheridan Way Elementary, Ventura (1 trip)
Sun Valley High School, Los Angeles (1 trip)
Sunset Elementary, Oak View (3 trips)
Topa Topa Elementary, Ojai (2 trips)
Unitarian Society Teen Group, Santa Barbara (1 trip)
Ventura Charter School, Ventura (2 trips)