The Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER)
The Cheadle Center is situated on the UCSB campus and is the location for the first and last of the KIN trips. The first visit to CCBER is during fall quarter when the 5th grade students are introduced to the KIN program and go through a series of activities that will lay the foundation for the rest of the year. The students in their KIN groups of 5 or 6 learn about pollinators, insect anatomy, seeds and seed dispersal mechanisms, flower morphology, equipment such as hand lenses, dissecting scopes and binoculars and decorate a KIN backpack using a leaf printing technique.
During fall quarter, Kids in Nature takes a trip to Coal Oil Point Reserve. The 150 acres of coastal- strand environment contains a seasonally flooded tidal lagoon, coastal dunes and intertidal habitats. Over a 3 hour period, the 5th grade students work through a series of fun activities. Along with their UCSB KIN mentors, the 5th grade students conduct an experiment on the beach to determine what kind of seaweed beach hoppers prefer; search for animal tracks and other evidence of animal activity; use binoculars to observe and identify shorebirds; collect different types of marine algae and discover some cool facts about the many uses of marine algae; learn about the rich assemblage of dune plants and their many adaptations to living in a challenging environment and spend some quiet time journaling.
We also visit Storke Wetland, one of the natural areas restored and managed by CCBER on the UCSB campus. This area was historically covered by water and connected to the ocean. The wetland is uniquely suited to plants that can survive periodic flooding and brackish water and many animals call this special place home. The activities at Storke Wetland include a fun food web game that gets the students really thinking about the connections between animals and plants; a close look at the adaptations of some of the flora; we break out the binoculars and spotting scope to focus on the birds that visit the wetland including red-tail hawks, white-tailed kites, red-winged blackbirds, western bluebirds and many more; use an interactive wetland model to demonstrate how wetlands act as a natural filtration system and help to prevent flooding; work with a partner and use a dichotomous key to identify some of the species present at the wetland.
Arroyo Hondo Preserve is a 782 acre preserve situated between Refugio State Beach and Gaviota State Park. There are a number of habitats within the preserve, but at the heart of this canyon, lies a tranquil riparian corridor. KIN visits Arroyo Hondo during spring quarter. We spend most of our time hiking and exploring, but in addition have some docent led activities, where the 5th graders take part in a water quality testing activity and measure salinity, temperature, turbidity, salinity, dissolved oxygen and pH; look for aquatic invertebrates and learn about the steelhead trout life cycle.
Spring quarter is also the perfect time to visit the 75 acre Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The Garden was established in 1926 and today visitors are able to see a unique assemblage of plants found in the California Floristic Province. As the 5th grade students hike through the Garden, they discover how the temperature can drop dramatically as they walk from the sunny chaparral to the shade of the Redwood canopy; they collect and grind their own acorns and imagine what a typical day for the Chumash might look like; use their senses to determine what adaptations chaparral plants have to help them survive; take a closer look at fire ecology and some of the damage that still remains after the Jesusita fire; learn about fungus and alga and that together, these two organisms form lichen; and spend some time relaxing and decompressing by the stream while they journal.
Celebration Day held at the end of spring quarter is our culmination event. The 5th grade students, with assistance from their UCSB mentors give a PowerPoint presentation of some of their accomplishments and favorite moments from the past year. Following the PowerPoints, “Eyes in the Sky” give a presentation to the whole class with some of their rescue birds. The 5th grade students are then broken into smaller groups and rotate through a series of fun activities, which include learning about native and non-native reptiles and amphibians; discovering some of the ways native plants were used historically and making and decorating clapper sticks; face painting using pictures of some of the plants and animals the students learned about during their time with KIN; making rope using tule; and making bookmarks with native pressed plants.