Students from East Los Angeles Arrive at Santa Monica Mountains Institute

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Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and NatureBridge today announced the launch of residential field science programs at Santa Monica Mountains Institute. Lincoln High ninth graders are the first to attend residential environmental science programs at the new Southern California NatureBridge campus.

Henry Ortiz, Santa Monica Mountains Institute Director

These kinds of programs are critical for our students. Very few of our students have experienced the outdoors.--Edgardo Ramirez, Biology Teacher, Lincoln High School.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and NatureBridge today announced the launch of residential field science programs at Santa Monica Mountains Institute. This week, 20 Lincoln High School ninth graders from East Los Angeles will be the first students at the new campus. Over the course of the 18-month pilot, the campus at Circle X Ranch will host approximately 1,400 students from Orange, Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.

“These kinds of programs are critical for our students. Very few of our students have experienced the outdoors,” said Edgardo Ramirez, Biology Teacher, Lincoln High School. “Once out in a natural environment they perk up and a refreshing expression can be seen on their face. They open up to new experiences.”

Santa Monica Mountains Institute, operated by NatureBridge in partnership with the National Park Service, delivers residential environmental science programs that are closely aligned with California Content Standards. NatureBridge plans to ultimately serve up to 10,000 youth annually at the Santa Monica Mountains Institute campus.

“Education is a core tenet of the National Park Service’s mission. We couldn’t ask for a better partner than NatureBridge to help us fulfill our mission,” said Woody Smeck, superintendent of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “Santa Monica Mountains Institute is going to help us introduce thousands more urban youth each year to this amazing place, and will inspire future generations to value our wild places and work to conserve them for their children and grandchildren.”

Based on the NatureBridge Core Educational Framework, programs combine inquiry-based education with physical challenges, team building and stewardship projects designed to change students’ behaviors and help them build strong connections to nature and their local communities.

“The impact of our programs goes far beyond our excellent environmental science programs,” said Henry Ortiz, Santa Monica Mountains Institute director. “Just looking at the way students react to their experiences at NatureBridge campuses, it is clear that their time with us is going to have a lasting impact.”

Within an hour’s drive of major urban centers, Santa Monica Mountains Institute has the capability to serve a wide range of schools and students throughout Southern California.

“I have been astounded at the relative lack of familiarity students have with anything outside their neighborhood,” said Ramirez. “These kinds of programs show them that there are different ways to live, and that there is more for them out there in the world than they previously thought.”

About NatureBridge
Founded in 1971 and based in San Francisco, NatureBridge is the largest residential environmental education partner of the National Park Service. Its mission is to inspire personal connections to the natural world and responsible actions to sustain it. NatureBridge currently operates four campuses: Headlands Institute in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Olympic Park Institute in Olympic National Park in Washington State, Yosemite Institute in Yosemite National Park and Santa Monica Mountains Institute in Santa Monica National Recreation Area. Each year, NatureBridge serves more than 40,000 participants through field science, youth leadership and teacher training programs. NatureBridge is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. http://www.naturebridge.org

About the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the nation’s largest urban national park, encompassing 153,700 acres of mountains and coastline in the Ventura and Los Angeles counties of southern California. It comprises a seamless network of local, state, and federal parks, and preserves outstanding examples of rare Mediterranean-type coastal ecosystems and habitat for 20 federal and state listed endangered plant and animal species. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area provides outdoor education, recreation, and public health benefits that are easily accessible to over 25 million people residing in metropolitan southern California, an ethnically diverse region significantly underserved by parklands. Popular activities include hiking and nature walks, mountain bicycling, horseback riding, camping, picnicking, wildlife viewing, swimming and surfing. http://www.nps.gov/samo

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Susan Turner
NatureBridge
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