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.
Viewing entries in
Who helps fund the un-fundable restoration projects, the orphan projects and the important environmental and education work even when limited and short-term grant funding runs out?
Students from Carpinteria Family School volunteer
at the Anacapa Island nursery on a class trip
Channel Islands Restoration has brought 2,055 young people and 248 teachers and chaperones to Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands as part of our school and youth program since its inception in 2004.
CIR raised most of the funding to pay for boat transportation and other costs for these trips, which focused on involving students from underserved areas of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. These trips provided the first opportunity for most of these young people to travel on an ocean-going boat, to directly experience marine wildlife and to visit the Channel Islands.
Funding was provided by a combination of public and private sources, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the California Coastal Commission, Sempra Energy Foundation and Citrix Online.
Students from Sheridan Way Elementary
School (Ventura) on Anacapa Island
CIR worked with 36 schools and youth groups from all over Southern California and beyond.
Participants performed many service tasks including removing invasive plants, collecting seed, growing plants in the Anacapa nursery and care of these plants once they were in the ground.
CIR visited participating schools before each trip to make a presentation on island ecology and conservation biology.
We particularly emphasized the connection between the pollution of mainland streets and watersheds and thereby of the ocean and island environments.
Instruction was curriculum based, reinforcing lessons the students were already learning in the classroom.
Even with fares generously discounted by Island Packers (the official provider of transportation to Anacapa), transportation costs add up quickly.
Boat transportation for an average-size class is $1,500 to $2,000, with additional costs incurred for bus transportation and for CIR staff to organize and lead each trip.
As public sector budgets tighten, CIR is seeking corporate support to help fund these important service-learning programs for local schools.
Fifth graders from Meiners Oaks Elementary volunteer on Santa Cruz Island.
Twenty nine Channel Islands Restoration volunteers and staff worked on San Clemente Island in October of 2011 and 2012 in cooperation with the Navy and San Diego State University.
We hand-removed non-native iceplant that was surrounding the San Clemente Island lotus (Acmispon dendroideus var. traskiae) a federally listed endangered species.
We also removed patches of iceplant from about 50 acres of sensitive habitat of the endemic Island sage sparrow.
The iceplant crowds out native plants, including species of boxthorn (Lycium sp.) that the sparrows nest in.
CIR volunteers kept up a rigorous and steady pace in order to accomplish such a large scale iceplant removal.
Many species of native plants sprouted where the iceplant had been removed, including
(a threatened plant in the Borage family).
CIR volunteers take in the view on San Clemente Island
San Clemente Island is owned by the U.S. Navy, and staff from the Navy and from San Diego State University worked with CIR to arrange the trips.
The logistics of such trips are almost as daunting as eradicating the iceplant, but the results were well worth the effort.
CIR donated most of our staff time for the trips, and volunteers paid for their own housing and meals.
San Clemente Island is an important base for the Navy, and several hundred duty personnel and civilian workers are regularly posted to the island.
The island provides an important auxiliary landing field for the Navy, and it is used extensively for training.
Navy Seals train on San Clemente, and the southern part of the island is used for air bombardment and ship board gunnery practice.
San Clemente has 14 plants that are unique to the island, plus several species of endemic animals.
The Navy funds a large restoration program for many of these species.
The primary restoration staff are from the Soil Ecology & Restoration Group at San Diego State University.
Volunteers remove iceplant on San Clemente Island
The groups of volunteers first traveled to San Diego (most staying the first evening at the same motel) before departing for the island by plane from the North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado Island.
The Navy contracts with a civilian airline to transport personnel to the island, so the flights were free for the volunteers.
Once on the island, the group checked in at one of the base guest housing complexes, which is reminiscent of a Motel 6.
Low-cost meals were provided at the base commissary.
CIR volunteers then traveled by van to the western side of the island to begin work.
Every volunteer worked hard hand-pulling the iceplant and placing it in large piles.
This technique was quite successful at eradicating iceplant with only minimal re-sprouting.
The restoration site is 55 acres in size, and the volunteers cleared most of it.
At lunch time, island personnel took the volunteers to interesting view spots and even lead the group on a hike featuring endemic plants!
We are very proud of our volunteer trips to the San Clemente Island, and we hope to follow up with more trips, perhaps starting this spring.
CIR is also working with the Navy on San Nicolas Island, and we are glad to be working on both of these islands that are not normally accessible to the general public.
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)