Environmental Education and Youth Service Opportunities on the Channel Islands

Channel Islands Restoration provides quality service learning opportunities to school and youth groups on the California Channel Islands that emphasize habitat restoration and island ecology. We have worked with more than 2,100 kids accompanied by more than 360 adults since 2004.
Volunteers make single-day or multi-day trips to the islands, where they receive hands-on restoration experience while learning about conservation biology and the unique ecology of the Channel Islands National Park.
CIR also provides pre-trip PowerPoint presentations and nature walks that excite and educate the participants and prepare them for their trip. We work closely with teachers to complement school curriculum. If you would like more information about this unique service project and educational opportunity please follow the links below.
Click on these links or scroll down to see detailed information on the following topics:

Anacapa Island Restoration

CIR works with the Channel Islands National Park on an important and exciting habitat restoration project on Anacapa Island. We work with school groups on single-day trips to remove non-native ice plant that threatens the island's sea bird nesting habitat and native plant communities. We gather seed and we plant native species. We visit the classroom in advance to provide a PowerPoint presentation and to work with teachers to tailor the trip to their curriculum. Many schools have participated in this program with CIR over the last five years.
Typical itinerary:
9:00 AM: Depart Ventura or Channel Islands Harbor
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM: Arrive at Anacapa Island landing cove, receive island orientation and safety talk. Climb steps to island mesa, tour restoration sites and visitor center.
11:30 - 12:00 PM: Lunch
12:00 - 1:30 PM: Nature walk/seed collection
1:30 PM - 3:30 PM: Perform ice plant removal
3:30 PM - 4:00 PM: Return to Landing Cove and board boat
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM: Return to Ventura Harbor

East Santa Cruz Island Restoration

CIR works with Channel Islands National Park to remove non-native plants, collect seed and plant native species in sensitive habitats on the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island. We conduct both day-trips and multi-day trips to this portion of the island, and several hundred school kids have helped us with this project so far.

Day-trips typical itinerary:

  • 9:00 AM: Depart Ventura Harbor
  • 10:30 AM - 11:00 AM: Arrive at Scorpion Harbor, receive island orientation and safety talk.
  • 11:00 - 11:30 AM: Take nature walk along the trail to Cavern Point overlook.
  • 11:30 - 12:00 PM: Lunch at Cavern Point
  • 12:00 - 3:30 PM: Walk to restoration sites, perform service work
  • 3:30 PM - 4:00 PM: Return to Harbor, board boat
  • 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM: Return to Ventura Harbor

Multi-day trips

On overnight trips, participants stay in the Park Service campground and get involved with a wide variety of activities and visit a larger part of the island. In addition to performing service work at several important restoration sites, participants have the opportunity to hike on interesting trails, swim and take kayak excursions (see the photos below).

Western Santa Cruz Island Restoration

The western portion of Santa Cruz Island is owned by The Nature Conservancy, and it is managed as a nature reserve. It is not open to the general public, but CIR is able to bring volunteers to this part of the island to perform restoration work. CIR leads groups in many types of restoration projects there on trips that usually last four or five days. Housing is provided at the UC Santa Barbara Reserve station in the island’s Central Valley, and includes rooms with bunk beds and full kitchen facilities. The photos below illustrate how beautiful this part of the island is and why it is such an interesting place to visit.

Pre-trip Activities For All Trips

CIR provides a variety of pre-trip educational services designed to prepare students for their trip and to reinforce what they learn while on the islands. Our popular PowerPoint presentations cover the following topics:

  • The unique nature of the Channel Islands and nearby marine sanctuary. This includes videos and slides of commonly seen marine mammals
  • Maps and photos of the islands the student will be visiting
  • Native American and European ranching history
  • Island ecology and why islands are particularly vulnerable to human disturbance
  • The impacts of non-native species
  • Native plant and animal restoration projects
  • Slides of kids having fun participating in service projects

Transportation for all Trips

Boat transportation is usually provided by Island Packers (www.islandpackers.com) which offers special rates to schools. Boats leave from Ventura Harbor (for Santa Cruz Island and some Anacapa Trips) or from Channel Islands Marina (for some Anacapa trips). The trip to the islands usually takes between 1 and 2 hours. The boat ride is always a great deal of fun for kids and is quite educational experience. We often spot marine mammals enroute, including large pods of dolphins and whales.

Participating School and Youth Groups

CIR has worked with more than 2,100 young people since 2004. The following is a partial list of participating schools youth groups:

American Tall Ship Institute Paso Robles High School
Besant Hill School Rein Teen Tours
California Institute of Technology (spring break group) San Antonio Elementary School
Carpinteria Family School Santa Barbara Charter School
Cesar Chavez Elementary School Santa Barbara Home School Network
City of Lake, MN Waldorf School Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History youth group
Dunn Middle School Santa Barbara Unitarians Society
E.P. Foster Elementary Santa Monica Mountains NRA Youth
Girl Scouts Troop 10565, Mendocino Sheridan Way Elementary School
Goleta Family School Spring Hill, MN Waldorf School
Holy Cross School Sun Valley High School
Los Angeles Conservation Crops Sunset Elementary
Mates School Thatcher School
Meiners Oaks Elementary School Topa Topa Elementary
Mira Monte UC Irvine Alternative Spring Break
Monroe High School Ventura Boys and Girls Club
Nordhoff High School Ventura Charter School
Oak Grove School Ventura High School
Ojai Valley School Youth Conservation Corps