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Environmental Education

San Diego is home to remarkably diverse landscapes and habitat types, and our mild Mediterranean climate makes this an ideal place to recreate outdoors and connect with nature year-round. Unfortunately, not everyone in San Diego County enjoys the same access to these natural spaces.

Children who live in San Diego’s “park-poor” neighborhoods suffer physically, psychologically, and academically from a lack of access to green space. Children in these communities also miss out on the opportunity to learn about nature and experience its benefits first-hand.

''No One Will Protect What They Don't Care About; And No One Will Care About What They Have Never Experienced'' - David Attenborough

Numerous studies have shown that the more people understand about the environment, the more likely they are to protect it.

The goal of our education programming is to ensure as many kids as possible enjoy the opportunity to learn about and personally experience our wild landscapes. This is how EDI both builds equity in our communities, and supports the next generation of environmental stewards.

Curriculum-based programming

EDI is deeply integrated into the school districts of San Diego County, where classroom teachers often request our support and expertise in delivering science-based outdoor education lessons to students. We offer a suite of education programs that both align with Next Generation Science Standards and engage students in meaningful experiences in nature.

Elementary Field Trips

Our Elementary Field Trip programs align with 4th grade Next Generation Science Standards and provide hands-on activities that support classroom learning and direct connections with the land. Field trips take place on conserved lands managed by partner agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Service, California Department of Wildlife, and Endangered Habitats ConservancyStudents engage in habitat restoration projects, including planting California native grasses, seed collection, and pollinator habitat restoration. Students hike on conserved land where they learn about the diversity of plants and animals that live here and how our actions can impact the land. We focus on real-world problems such as water pollution and climate change and allow students to explore real-world solutions starting in their own backyards and neighborhoods. 

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Nature at Home Science Kits

When we are unable to meet in person to get students out into nature, we bring nature home to them! New in 2020, our Nature at Home Science Kits align with Next Generation Science Standards and have so far provided over 370 students with tools they can use to continue their science inquiries at home. Our first set of kits were themed after “Plants and Seeds” and included nature journaling supplies, soil and native seeds to plant at home, magnifying lenses, and loads of science lessons and activities.  EDI is now expanding this program to serve additional schools and students.  Our second set of kits will be themed “Water Wonders” and in addition to an array of self-guided activities, these will also include an online lesson with EDI staff to assist teachers in completing science curriculum requirements. 

If you are an educator who wishes to participate in this program, please contact our Education Director, Vicky Bonnett, at vicky@earthdiscovery.org.

Neighborhood Nature Program

Come learn more about the ecosystems that make San Diego a biodiversity hotspot! We will explore the plants and animals that make San Diego so special and how they adapt to survive in so many unique habitats. Students will learn through observing and exploring their neighborhood and with hands-on activities that help them connect to nature that is all around them. Taxidermy specimens specific to the habitats we explore each week will also be available for students to see and touch up close. We will provide tools and supplies that help make environmental science fun and engaging, and will inspire your students to love and take care of the planet!

Module 1: Cool Coastal Habitats

Learn about our amazing coastal habitats and the plants and birds that live there. We will learn how plants and animals adapt and help protect our coasts.  We will build our observation and data collecting skills through a fun game of Bird Bingo using binoculars. Each student will use craft supplies to build their own bird to test how they might find food in a specific habitat.

Module 2: Checkin' Out the Chaparral

Learn about the most common habitat in San Diego and why it is so important to us and to the plants and animals that live there. During this session we will practice our observation skills through an exciting scavenger hunt, and learn how plants and animals in the chaparral depend on each other by creating our own habitat game.  Students will make their own paper seed balls containing seeds from one of the native plants found in the chaparral community. 

Module 3: Desert Delights

Take a closer look at the exciting and mysterious desert habitat. With so many interesting plant and animal species students will learn more about how they are able to survive in such extreme conditions. Students will create their own "Desert in a Bottle" and also examine different plant and animal specimens from the desert up close.

Module 4: Miles of Mountains

We will learn about and discuss the many mountain areas in San Diego as well as the plants and animals that can found there. During this session we will dive deeper to learn about one of our favorite birds, the owl! Students will dissect an owl pellet to see what it eats! Students will focus on a specific animal to build a diorama, showing details of what they have learned throughout all of our time together exploring our amazing habitats! 

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Family programming

EDI is always looking for ways to support families to get outside and explore the natural world together!  

Storybook Hike

Our Storybook Hike provides an outdoor adventure that focuses on family connection, literacy, and health and wellness. EDI has hand-picked nature-themed stories that will inspire everyone to explore more! Storybook pages are posted at several stations along a trail, allowing everyone to enjoy a story as they hike and take in the natural world around them. Our first Storybook Hike is currently installed at Crestridge Ecological Reserve and we hope to have new locations soon. New stories will be featured periodically throughout the year so be sure to check our website and social media for updates.  Come take a hike with us! 

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Storybook Art Hour

Children’s books are a great way to inspire kid art and we have selected a list of books that will be sure to inspire nature lovers of all ages.

Our Storybook Art Hour provides time for children and their families to enjoy an engaging story, and an opportunity to express their feelings through various art mediums using the natural world as inspiration. Event locations are throughout the county and change frequently.  Space is limited, so check our website and social media frequently for upcoming meeting times.

Science & Educational Programs

Learn more about our hands-on environmental education programming!

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