Elementary school children will soon contribute to habitat restoration efforts on Anacapa Island thanks to a grant to promote sustainability and education.
The Channel Islands Restoration organization received a $25,000 grant from Sempra Energy Foundation after winning an Environmental Champions Award. Channel Islands Restoration will use the money to host eight school field trips to Anacapa Island for nearly 300 low-income Ventura County elementary school students.
Ken Owen, the co-founder and executive director of Channel Islands Restoration, said he works with the students to teach them about nature preservation prior to the service project.
“We go into their classroom ahead of time and do presentations on the Channel Islands,” Owen said. “We teach them about environmental restoration and why the Channel Islands are so special and how we can all preserve them. When we get to the island we take them on a nature walk and teach them about the islands, and then set them loose on a service project.”
The children will participate in a nature walk, a seed collection and ice plant removal on the island.
Jose Caballero, a science teacher at Santa Barbara High School, has organized field trips to nearby Santa Cruz Island and said the hands-on experience is beneficial to the students.
“[The students] get community service hours and get to hang out in one of the most special and sheltered natural wonders of California,” Caballero said. “But — instructionally speaking — their main benefit is the ability to see in context much of the curriculum which their peers only get from books and lectures. I certainly notice improved camaraderie and openness among many of them after our trips.”
According to Owen, non-native plants were first introduced to the islands by European ranchers, although visitors to the islands perpetrate the problem by continuing to introduce invasive species.
“Most people don’t even think about it when they go hiking in wilderness areas that they bring in weeds or mud on their shoes,” Owens said. “We want to make sure that doesn’t happen on the Channel Islands.”
Sabra Moallem of the Sempra Energy Foundation said Channel Islands Restoration stood out among other candidates for the Environmental Champions Award.
“One of the things they focus on that I think is really important is that they really want to create an environment in the local minority communities so that they understand the importance of the scenic and biologically diverse areas for humans and wildlife,” Moallem said. “Really that’s the only way that you can get citizens to be motivated to support parks and open space for future generations.”
Sempra Energy Foundation donated a total of $1 million to 30 nonprofit groups to promote sustainability in Southern California.