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Audubon Ballona Wetlands Education Program Update

August 10, 2011

Here's lookin' at you, kids. (Leslie Davidson '10)

SMBAS continues our support of the Audubon Ballona Wetlands Education Program.  We thank ALL the volunteers who gave their time last year to make the program a continuing success.  An extra thank you to the docents who volunteered to be part of the team management system.

This next year SMBAS has increased our funding of the Abigail King Memorial Bus Scholarship to cover 10 buses.  We also have funded the purchase of a digital projector for the pre-site visits.

Read more about this wonderful program in the following update from Cindy Hardin.
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Cindy at 310-301-0050.  Training begins in mid-September. [Lillian Johnson]

Guest instructor points out finer details of local plants to Docents (Leslie Davidson '08)

Audubon Ballona Wetlands Education Program Update

The Audubon Education Program at the Ballona Wetlands experienced profound changes in management, growth in student attendance, and number of visiting schools last year.  Thanks to the efforts of many dedicated volunteers, the transition from one individual as coordinator to a team management system went smoothly.

Several committees now run the program.  Four volunteers share Site Supervisor duties. A Speakers Committee makes a presentation to all schools before their visit.  Several people take turns getting the tidal water samples for the microscope station.  Our Correspondence Secretary handles all letters – including contribution thank-you notes – and tax forms.  Our “Kinko’s Maven” takes care of all the teachers’ packets and observation forms for students.  The Training Committee is planning docent training for the coming year.  This year, docent training will focus more on actual tour approaches and strategies and less on the guest speakers’ technical knowledge.  We plan to pair experienced docents with new volunteers in a one-on-one mentor program as a part of training.

Students and Docents (Leslie Davidson '11)

Previously Cindy Hardin handled all of these duties and received a small stipend for her efforts.  The volunteers involved in the new committees decided that no pay would be provided for any of the duties preformed.  The consensus was that the money would be better used to provide bus scholarships to underserved schools.  This money was combined with donations from Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society and others to create the Abigail King Memorial Bus Scholarship Fund.  We were able to provide eleven free busses to groups that otherwise would not have been able to visit the wetlands.  The bus scholarship program enabled us to bring in some new schools from the Compton and Pico Rivera school districts that had never been on Ballona field trips before.

Another committee system innovation was a modernization and expansion of material for the pre-site/outreach visits.  New items, such as an intact Bushtit nest, were added to our collection of teaching tools that are now displayed in Plexiglas boxes.  The slideshow was digitized, enabling speakers to project the images via a PowerPoint presentation.  The speakers committee had great ideas and put them into practice!

The main wetland channel looking south towards Culver Blvd. and Playa del Rey (Leslie Davidson '08)

We hosted over 2100 students from 30 different schools during the 2010-2011 school year.  This was our highest number yet, and we look forward to more growth next year.  One of our major goals is to extend the bus scholarship program to new schools.  The energy and new ideas that have been brought to the program by all of the volunteers who have stepped up to help with management has kept the proceedings interesting and dynamic.  We are excited to see what the next year brings as we continue to fine-tune the process.

WE are most thankful to Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society for their assistance and support of the Ballona Wetlands education Program.  Any questions may be directed to Cindy Hardin at 310-301-0050.

Snowy Egrets and Dowitchers in the salt marsh aren't bothered by people looking at them (Leslie Davidson '08)

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