The Sonoma Coast and Willow Creek Watershed have a long and fascinating natural and cultural history surrounding the ecosystems of the coastal prairies, dune habitat, coast redwood groves and tidepools. This bio-diversity has provided the ingredients for a variety of wildlife and human cultures to live and thrive here from Pleistocene mega herbivores to Native Americans.
Stewards’ has developed the Sonoma Coast Environmental Learning Program (ELP) to help students in 4th, 5th and 6th grades discover and explore these areas. The emphasis is on student self-learning and stewardship of the land through a role-playing experience that taps into this natural and cultural history. The Sonoma Coast ELP provides the core around which a rich integrated curriculum can be developed that can meet many of the California standards and learning objectives in the areas of: California History, Social Science, Science, Math, Language Arts and Environmental Education.
This program can be experienced in one- or two-day options. On the two-day overnight camping experience, students journey back in time to learn about the four cultural groups that have lived and worked on the Sonoma Coast during the past two thousand years. Fourth and fifth grade participants focus on simulating and recreating the historic lifestyles of: the Southwestern Kashaya Pomo, members of the Russian American Fur Company, loggers and ranchers. Students are divided into groups that research the daily activities, survival needs, and land use practices of the cultural group to which they are assigned. They recreate their group’s lifestyle and find practical solutions to survival needs for food, shelter, clothing, safety and entertainment.
The journey begins at Shell Beach where they study the geology and archeology of the area. Then they hike over the historic Pomo Trail to Red Hill where they rotate through learning stations. The first day ends at Pomo Canyon Campground where they set up camp. The second day includes a final ceremony and stewardship project. The program includes a classroom visit, teacher’s guide, docent-led activities, and staff support.
The sixth grade programs focus more on the Willow Creek Watershed. Students research the impact of the cultural groups mentioned above as well as other environmental factors on the health of the watershed. On-site they collect and compare data, recreate lifestyles, create a timeline and understand the watershed through mapping and water quality testing.
Through sharing their experiences and the information they have learned with their class, the fourth through sixth grade students become more aware of the natural resources in the environment, the impact humans and their culture have on an environment and its resources, and the role stewardship plays in the preservation of natural resources.
It is our intention to make the ELP available to as many students as good resource management will allow. A number of California State Parks offer overnight learning experiences. Please apply to only one ELP site per school year. Public, private and home school groups are welcome to participate.
Reservations are required for all schools as parking and capacity is limited. Spring and fall are very busy times; it is important to reserve your space early. Docents are available upon request for groups of 60 students or less. Please read the guidelines below carefully and following our easy online reservation procedures to ensure the best experience possible.
Forms are available through the links below. Please contact: David Berman, Programs Director, at email@example.com or (707) 869-9177 ext. 7# for more information.
Environmental Living Program Reservations
Reservations are essential for this program.
Online School Group Reservation System
Transportation Scholarship Application
Environmental Living Program Teacher's Manual