Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Young people apply academic skills to solving real-world issues which they help identify.
Education is key to raising young people’s awareness of the environmental and social challenges we face on a global and local scale. Service learning cultivates community members that are aware of and take an active role in the long term preservation and health of the resources on which they rely – water, land, air, and culture.
WildPlaces has partnered with local schools, civic and outdoor groups to bring the Southern Sierra a variety of service learning projects that benefit both students and the community. Immersed in the Wild are single and multi-day outdoor camping programs that engage youth of diverse ages, backgrounds and locations throughout CA in active stewardship of the lands on which they live. Youth learn about ecosystems, critical thinking, cultural identity and then participate in a hands-on restoration project, connecting learning to service.
Río Limpio: Tule River Outreach and Cleanup
Río Limpio: Tule River Outreach and Cleanup is a watershed-wide community effort to keep the Tule River safe, clean and open for all to use. Volunteers learn about the watershed, clear garbage, and remove graffiti from the river while reaching out to and educating river users on the importance of good stewardship practices.
Loggy Meadow Restoration
Loggy Meadow Restoration project is a joint effort between WildPlaces and the U.S. Forest Service to restore the meadow’s hydrology and ecology to a healthy state. The U.S. Forest Service has fenced off the meadow stream and secured hay bales to the stream banks to slow erosion. Volunteers from WildPlaces’ Immersed in the Wild program have planted hundreds of willows in an effort to anchor the hay bales and stabilize stream banks that have been eroded by unsustainable cattle grazing practices.
Sequoia Forest Days
The Proclamation establishing the Giant Sequoia National Monument states that “a century of fire suppression has led to an unprecedented failure in sequoia reproduction…” This along with natural and human caused tree mortality has created a need to increase the numbers of seedling in various groves. What better way to address this issue than by planting Sequoias and teaching our youth about these magnificent giants!
Throughout the planting season volunteers plant Giant Sequoia seedlings on the Trail of 100 Giants and other areas of the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The seedlings were propagated in the Springville nursery and the Cal Native Plant Nursery in Porterville from seeds collected from the Trail of 100 Giants.
Springville Nursery Days
WildPlaces and the U.S. Forest Service work in cooperation at a joint nursery to propagate native species for restoration and educational purposes.
Students from Granite Hills and La Sierra High Schools as well as other youth and community members spend a day several times each year working at the Springville Nursery potting native seedlings, learning about plant care and maintaining the nursery.
River Ridge Ranch
River Ridge Ranch is a unique combination of working cattle ranch, recreation, and educational guest ranch in the oak savanna foothills of the western Sierra Nevada. WildPlaces has organized several service learning projects here with students from Granite Hills High School in Porterville, including the construction and maintenance of two wildlife corridors to connect the oak woodlands to the Tule River.
Circle J – Norris Ranch
Circle J – Norris Ranch is a beautiful 620-acre Tulare County of Education field trip site in the Sierra foothills that offers a wide variety of field studies programs. WildPlaces has organized several service learning projects here including the construction of native plant gardens and floating islands with students from La Sierra High School in Porterville and others.
WildPlaces will coordinate and train volunteers who have an interest in outdoor youth education and service learning. Volunteers with experience in the sciences, camping logistics, cooking and various other field activities are needed. If that’s you, please reach us at WildPlaces at 559.539.5263 or visit us on the web at www.wildplaces.net.