December 6 – For a second consecutive year, Ojai Valley School, in partnership with the Channel Islands National Park, has been awarded a federal grant that will allow 60-100 students to access the islands for environmental education and restoration projects.
The $3,500 Hands on the Land grant is part of a national effort to connect students, teachers, and volunteers with public lands and waterways. As proposed by the school and the National Parks Service, OVS will use the funds to access the islands and use them as living laboratories for environmental monitoring and restoration, broadening the school’s focus on place-based environmental education and STEM programs.
“Through this HOL grant, the OVS students experience hands-on learning about restoration ecology and island biology. They are able to understand and gain an appreciation of the challenges and rewards of restoring an island ecosystem,” said OVS parent Annie Little, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who helped write the grant request. “By restoring native habitat, the OVS students provide direct benefits to the whole ecosystem, including nesting seabirds, pollinators, resident and migratory birds, and a whole host of unique species endemic to the Channel Islands.”
The grant award, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Environmental Education Foundation, was announced December 2 and continues collaborative efforts between OVS and the National Park Service. Last year, 68 students in grades 5-12 benefitted from the Hands on the Land grant, which paid for travel costs to and from Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands. Once there, students worked on-site in nurseries, planted native species, removed invasive vegetation, and gathered and compiled plant restoration data.
“In addition to hands-on learning, stewardship of our environment is a key feature of an OVS education,” said AP Environmental Science teacher John Wickenhaeuser, whose students have participated in the restoration efforts at Anacapa and Santa Cruz. “Through our partnership with Channel Islands National Park, we have the opportunity to work directly with top wildlife biologists, like Annie Little, from the Department of Fish and Wildlife while participating in important, achievable habitat restoration efforts on the incredible Channel Islands.”