CIR Receives Grants for Youth Program


CIR is organizing several service learning trips for young people to the Channel Islands in 2015, starting as early as May.  The CIR youth program provides kids from low-income school districts with trips to Channel Islands National Park, during which they learn about conservation and island ecology, and participate in a habitat restoration stewardship project. 

4th Graders from Ventura on Anacapa Island with CIR
For many kids, these trips provide their first opportunity to travel on a boat or to visit a National Park.  They also visit the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and experience the rich marine environment right in their own backyards!  CIR raises the funding needed to transport the kids by bus to the harbor in Ventura or Oxnard, to cover the cost of the group’s island boat trip, and to cover the expenses of CIR staff needed to organize and lead the trips. 

Most public schools cannot afford field trips of this type, which is why CIR has been raising funds to lead school trips since 2004.   Since the commencement of our school program, we have taken 2,216 young people to the islands, accompanied by 369 teachers and parent-chaperones.

4th graders watch common dolphins while en route to Anacapa Island

CIR is funding the 2015 school trips with grants recently received from the Minnesota-based Bentson Foundation, from the Men's Garden Club of Santa Barbara, and from many donations made by CIR members.  In May, we plan to work with two 6th grade classes from Cleveland School in Santa Barbara on island trips.  CIR Board member Cindy Kimmick will be volunteering much of her time toward organizing these trips.

CIR works with schools and youth groups on mainland projects as well.  We have worked with classes from San Marcos High School, the Open Alternative School in Goleta, Girls Incorporated, the Rein Teen Tours, and more.   These groups and others have also volunteered with CIR at Lake Los Carneros, Carpinteria State Beach, the Santa Barbara Zoo, and at the San Marcos Foothills Preserve.

CIR staff demonstrate planting techniques to
youth at the San Marcos Foothills
CIR has also worked extensively with the Santa Barbara County Probation Department on an alternative sentencing program for teen offenders.  Young people in this program were convicted of non-violent crimes and are sentenced to spend their weekends performing community service.  Rather than serving their sentences doing such things as picking up trash or cleaning floors, the Probation Department approached CIR in 2008 with the idea of us working with these young people on habitat restoration projects.  CIR staff spends quality time with the participants, educating them about conservation and restoration, and ensuring that they have a positive experience.

CIR has worked with nearly 90 schools and youth groups at various locations on the Channel Islands and mainland.  Our youth program has touched many lives with conservation values.  These kids not only visit wonderful natural areas, but they also have the opportunity to make a difference by restoring the beautiful places they visit.  Our program is designed to instill conservation values in young people, particularly those from low-income, urban families.

CIR would like to thank all of those who contribute to help make this program an ongoing success.   We are glad to have support from foundations and other groups, but a major amount of the funding for our school and youth program comes from the support of CIR members—and we thank you!
Youth plants a native along Refugio Creek
on the Gaviota Coast.