September 10, 2014 – Environmental science, literature, physical education, outdoor education, commerce, economics, and ancient history are some of the main ingredients to Ryan Lang’s exploration of the local watershed. This year log project takes sixth grade students on an adventure through our local ecosystem where they travel through time to get a glimpse of what life and the Ojai Valley was like for the Chumash Indians who settled the land thousands of years before Europeans made their way across the great oceans of the world.
Survival is a topic of constant discussion while the students are out on location around the Ojai Valley exploring the differences between modern day water usage and the one-with-nature perspective held by our ancestors.
Ryan Lang’s watershed curriculum is highly complimented by Vanessa Herrera’s sixth-grade reading list that includes the Newbury Award winning young adult’s novel “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen. Under Mr. Lang’s guidance, the students practice survival techniques they learned while reading the story of thirteen year old Brian Robeson who faces life or death in the Northern Wilderness. Brian is the sole survivor of a plane crash, carrying nothing but the clothes on his back and a hatchet. Following in the footsteps of Brian, students work together to create shelter structures and build tools out of natural resources, all while learning how to be aware of one’s physical surroundings.
As the students return back into modern day, they follow the watershed to Friend’s Ranch, where the bigger picture is unveiled; how does the natural water system effect agriculture, economy and commerce? A tour of the citrus packing house at Friend’s Ranch reinforces the concept of water conservation as they’re educated about the cost of water usage and the business practices that take the citrus from the orchards to distribute in our local and international supermarkets.