Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A slew in the slough

By Trisha Allen, Education Coordinator

Have you ever wondered what 1,137 middle and high school students navigating the San Francisco Bay sloughs in canoes look like? It looks like gaggles of excited and nervous kids clad in Save The Bay’s finest PFDs, outfitted with paddles, and all geared up for a sensory exploration of the estuary in their own backyard.

This year nearly 70 Bay Area middle and high school classes participated in Save The Bay's Canoes In Sloughs program for a perfect blend of ecology, fun, and teamwork. For most students these canoe trips involve many firsts: first time out on the Bay, first time working together with classmates to steer a canoe, first time nibbling on the popular marsh plant pickleweed, first time handling slimy Bay creatures. And if we’ve done our job right, the canoe trip will make clear to the students the need to celebrate, protect and restore the Bay; thus transforming this handful of firsts into life-long stewardship of our great natural resource.

So why canoes? Well, travel by canoe has its advantages. This slow and sleek vessel allows students to intimately explore the Bay. They are able to venture into the narrow sloughs and cozy up next to egrets poised to spear lunch and black-crowned night herons resting quietly in the vegetation. These wetlands support an abundance of wildlife, and through observation and hands-on investigation, students discover this unique ecosystem and the billions of organisms living within it.

Using San Francisco Bay as a classroom and laboratory, Save The Bay’s field trips teach and inspire environmental stewardship and community leadership in today’s youth, who often spend most of their time inside and disconnected from the natural world. Through the Canoes In Sloughs program, students are allowed to experience the beauty and wonder of the outdoors, increasing their environmental science knowledge and inspiring a sincere appreciation for the Bay.

But don't take our word for it. See what teachers are saying:

"If you are looking for team-building, connecting with the Bay, and fun…this is the trip to go on."
Fadwa Musleh, Granada Islamic School, Palo Alto

"It’s a great way to experience local ecology through active learning, collaboration and the Save The Bay staff is excellent."
Julian August, Alameda Community Learning Center, Alameda

"It was an awesome way to get into the sloughs by touching, tasting, hearing, seeing and smelling the Bay.”
Vandy Shrader, Explore! Camp, East Palo Alto

"Save the Bay is an excellent organization that makes a significant impact on our Bay, enhancing young people’s understanding of the important Bay issues."
Patricia Williamson, Alameda Community Learning Center, Alameda

Learn more at www.saveSFbay.org/education.

No comments: