12th Season Kicks Off for NatureTrack

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By NatureTrack

Starting the 12th season off with a bang, more than 60 NatureTrack (NT) Field Trips have been scheduled already and September isn’t finished.  Docent-led trips going up and down the coast from Guadalupe Dunes to Carpinteria State Beach and inland to Nojoqui Falls, Midland School Trails, Sedgewick Reserve, and more.  Freedom Trax trips made tracks in the sand from Pismo Beach in SLO County to San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura County and numerous Santa Barbara State & County Beaches. These field trips are entirely free because of grants and private donors.  NatureTrack also pays for transportation to and from the local trails and beaches.

Sue Eisaguirre, Founder of the non-profit welcomed docents to the opening of NatureTrack’s new office at 290 Valley Station Road in Buellton on Tuesday September 6. She happily told the group assembled “We have 69 trips on the books so far.”  In the 12 years since the program began more than 30,000 students have been introduced to the beauty of nature surrounding us. It has been proven that learning by discovering is one of the most successful ways to learn. NatureTrack's mission is two-fold: encourage students to embrace our natural world with respect and wonder, thereby inspiring them to be stewards of our natural resources; and preparing students with the attitudes, leadership skills, and habits for lifelong learning.  “Our trips are more than just learning about nature, it’s about developing a love for our natural world,” said Sue. 

Abby Pickens, Program Manager was there to show the docents the new Online Volunteer Resource System (OVRS), giving them more information at their fingertips. Field trip location information is also only a click away for docents who want to explore a site before the field trip. 

NatureTrack field trips incorporate Joseph Cornell’s “Flow Learning” program and utilizes tools created by the BEETLES Project which inspire students’ wonder and curiosity about the natural world, support their innate tendencies for exploration and guide them to make explanations based on evidence. 

Outdoor field trips are more important than ever, as kids eight to 12 years old spend six to eight hours per day on entertainment media and only six to eight minutes in unstructured outdoor play. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of time spent in the outdoors to one's health and well-being. When our children are withdrawn from the natural environment, they are deprived of the benefits it has to offer.  

NatureTrack has one docent for every five students, so students receive individual attention. NatureTrack tailors the outdoor trip to the curriculum requested by the teacher.  Now, with the Freedom Trax program, students, teachers, and docents who may need to use a wheelchair can participate. The indefatigable Eisaguirre will not rest until she has everyone connected to nature.  

NatureTrack welcomes volunteers (docents) throughout the year, so if you have a passion for nature and enjoy kids, this is the perfect place for you. NatureTrack fits around your schedule, and there is never a set number of hours or days required to volunteer. Whatever works for you, works for NatureTrack!  Sound like your kind of volunteer gig?  Please call Sue at (805)886-2047 or e-mail her at Sue@NatureTrack.org.  

NatureTrack is a 501(c)3 non-profit providing outdoor docent-led field trips during the traditional school day for Santa Barbara County children at no cost to the schools or students, utilizing local trails and beaches throughout north and south county. It has expanded the program to include wheelchair users of any age by providing outdoor adventures from as far north as San Luis Obispo and south to Ventura County. NatureTrack’s mission is two-fold:  to encourage participants to embrace our natural world with respect and wonder, inspiring them to be stewards of our natural resources, and prepare school-aged students with the attitudes, leadership skills, and habits for lifelong learning. Founded in 2011, more than 30,000 students have had a chance to experience a NatureTrack docent-led outdoor field trip.  


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