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Annual Report from Ballona Education Program for 2018-2019

November 9, 2019

The main wetland channel looking south towards Culver Blvd. (Leslie Davidson ’08)

We have had another busy and successful year with Los Angeles Audubon’s education program at the Ballona Wetlands. Between the teachers’ strike in January and an extremely rainy winter, there was much re-scheduling going on throughout tour season. In spite of that, we managed to do 43 separate tours, and were visited by 21 different schools. We worked with four different school districts, although the majority of students that participated were part of LAUSD.

Every teacher that visits is asked to fill out an evaluation form regarding their experience. These are valuable tools, as their input is considered seriously, and used to fine tune what is really a great program. What follows is a compilation of their comments. Numbers in parentheses next to some of the comments reflect multiple remarks of the same nature.

Students and Docents (Leslie Davidson 2011)

What would you tell another teacher about your trip?

  • It was amazing
  • Different stations set up in kid-friendly and engaging way that instructs students on a wetlands ecosystem
  • Students learned about local natural history and Tongva people-hands-on experience
  • Observe the environment, conservation and the need to protect
  • A chance to see birds up close, learn about migration and what LA looked like long ago
  • Excellent way to experience Common Core Standards
  • Importance of wetlands to the planet-beautiful hike
  • Science exploration using microscopes, nature walk
  • Great-precious experience for kids to have direct contact with nature
  • Explains to children the importance of being respectful and not kill the mosquitoes!
  • Explored amazing habitats for migrating and resident birds, detailed exploration/investigation of microorganisms, etc.
  • We got to experience the wetlands and live with the life there. An appreciation for what used to be, and what is
  • We explore flora and fauna of the Ballona Wetlands and the importance of wetlands
  • A hands-on, interactive, standards based awesome trip
  • A bit like hiking with history and science built in
  • Fantastic tie-in to our life science unit-an outdoor classroom for the day
  • Many amazing conversations and discoveries
  • Opportunity to observe nature and animals
  • Explore the wetlands and observe species relying on habitat for survival
  • Allows the students to explore habitat of certain birds

Here’s lookin’ at you, kids. (Leslie Davidson 2010)

What interested your students the most about the trip?

  • Binoculars (10)
  • Microscopes (10)
  • All of it! (4)
  • Birds from the Bird Books (6) Every student that attends receives the book Birds of Ballona prior to their trip. Lots of the teachers use these as prep tools, and the attendees are delighted to see the birds that they learned about in their own personal reference book!
  • Tongva session (3) The Tongva Station was a new addition this year, thanks to the innovative, hard work of docent Jamie Lowry. Feedback has been over the top positive-thanks, Jamie!
  • Seeing the crabs create “crab homes”
  • And quotes from the students: “All the pretty birds I saw”, “The birds that blended into the rocks”, “The nature and the wildlife”, “Watching all the animals”, “Great Blue Heron on top of the roof”
  • Being Outdoors

    Marbled Godwits and Willets get some shut-eye (Nancy Conner 11-19-16)

Was your tour guide helpful, knowledgeable and informative?

  • Guides were excellent
  • Full of information and very patient (3)
  • So helpful and knowledgeable (7)
  • Yes!-well trained to ask questions and lead discussion
  • Very thorough yet easy to understand-answered every little question
  • She even tallied up the birds we saw at the end
  • Able to identify species living in the wetlands
  • Spoke at a grade level that was appropriate
  • Super!
  • Patient too!
  • Fantastic
  • Lots of enthusiasm
  • Great about pointing out things the students might have missed
  • Wonderful
  • Aware of all the native plants
  • Fully aware and prepared to answer all of my students’ questions

Bufflehead male (Joyce Waterman 12-9-17)

What could be done to improve the field trip program?

  • An art station where they can draw, paint and color
  • The interactive stations were so amazing-we would love more, although the trip would have to be extended
  • Closer, more convenient place to eat
  • Nothing! (19)
  • Nothing-it rocks!
  • Start at 9:30

A tiny dragon momentarily perches (Ray Juncosa 11-3-18)

Additional Comments:

  • We appreciate your support and outreach to our inner city schools who may not always be aware of and visit the wetlands/marina area
  • Thank you, thank you (2)
  • Great trip
  • We loved it, the parents loved it, and many had no idea this wetland existed

Well, we all know that this is a wonderful program, and the teacher’s comments back that up. You will notice that I highlighted words like “experience”, “explore” and “interactive”. The term “experiential learning” is being tossed around quite a bit lately; the Los Angeles Audubon Ballona Education Program has been using this approach for decades! A huge thanks to all of you for your fantastic work and being ahead of the curve. I am already looking forward to a fabulous 2019-2020 school year at Ballona!

Cindy Hardin
Director of Outdoor Education for Los Angeles Audubon Society

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