In recent reports, the 7th grade students of Haskell Middle School of Cerritos explored the entire Catalina Island under the Catalina Island Conservancy’s “Course Catalina” program. The students enjoyed a three-mile roundtrip to Catalina’s Ben Weston Beach while exploring and keenly studying the diverse flora and fauna of the island. It was a worthwhile experience for the students in learning, as the island is a habitat to more than 60 rare plant and animal species in the world.
Dr. George Boone, the founder of Course Catalina, calls it a science-based program, which brings a new leaning approach to the students outside of the classroom. The program offers an excellent opportunity for pre teens to explore the island the entire day. Boone explains his intentions in launching this program by stating that, “I love coming here with them and seeing them experience all that Catalina has to offer – from the boat trip to hiking through the Wildlands. It’s wonderful to see how Catalina and its beauty can have such a profound effect on them.”
The field trip has been successful in invoking the curiosity of the students, as evident in the numerous questions put forward by them to the Conservancy’s educational staff. It was also a great way for the students to know about the successful conservation works undertaken by the Catalina Island Conservancy, along with its partner, the Institute for Wildlife Studies. Together, their combined efforts have helped in bringing back the endangered Catalina Island fox from extinction.
Elizabeth Ortega, the teacher who accompanied the students in the adventure, said that, “Seeing all of this firsthand – nothing can come close to that in helping them understand science. Several of these students have a real passion for science.”
Also organized were a short class and workbook session, which the students eagerly attended. It taught a lot more about the island’s rich ecosystem and presented a microscopic view of salt grass and saltbush. Aside from the field studies, there was also some time for fun, as the students hiked to the Ben Weston Beach.
The Catalina Island Conservancy was founded in 1917, and has been one of the oldest land trusts in the California district. Their key mission includes providing a balanced conservation, education, and recreation. The many efforts undertook by the conservancy has aided in safeguarding the rich natural diversity as well as the cultural heritage of the island. They also conduct educational outreach program through two nature centers, Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden.