Naturalists at Large’s experience has been that the student’s participation in the process of learning and living together provides the basic framework for a successful program. The program will emphasize outdoor skills along with an introduction to the various environments of the Santa Monica Mountains. Naturalists at Large will take responsibility for evening activities.
Students will discover the unique natural and human history of the area, develop group cooperation through shared experiences, enhance leadership abilities, and learn basic outdoor skills. All Naturalists at Large programs are designed to give the students a “sense of place”. This is accomplished by introducing them to the natural and cultural history of the Park and surrounding area while they explore the trails, study the various habitats, and live in the area for up to five days.
Organized into groups of twelve to fourteen, students discover the unique natural history of the area, and solve problems posed by their instructors. Naturalists at Large instructors work with their groups to teach basic outdoor travel skills, conduct education activities (primarily a mix of walk-and-talks and hands-on science and social studies activities) on the Park trails. In addition, they are constantly encouraged to solve problems posed by the Naturalists at Large instructors, comprised of both intellectual problems and well thought-out and well executed physical problems (i.e. initiative activities). Each trail group is with a Naturalists at Large naturalist-instructor, and a faculty or parent chaperon each day for the entire program.
- Freshwater biology
- Plant communities – botany, ecology, plant identification
- Adaptations of plants and animals for surviving this land of little rain
- Geology – landforms, continental drift
- The stars – cosmology, constellations, and ancient mythology
- Environmental resource management
- Water resources – pollution, sewage treatment, water sources
- Outdoor skills
- Invertebrate zoology and bird watching
We will also stress the importance of safe outdoor travel. Emphasis will be tailored to complement the goals of the school.
- The academic aspects of the program emphasize the study of water: fresh, marine, and brackish
- The natural history of the Santa Monica Mountains
- Human role in the modification of the mountains
- Using natural resources wisely
Leadership development and decision-making is enhanced through group building and initiative activities.