Education & Research

Environmental Education

Palos Verdes Peninsula kids in a circle

Southern California is one of the richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on earth. Our education programs help children and adults understand the beauty and significance of the Palos Verdes Peninsula's natural areas and empower them to play a role in its preservation. From elementary school science programs and student research projects to public hikes and family activities, the Conservancy's goal is to create a commitment to science and nature, and inspire excitement about the outdoors.

School Programs

Our current school-based programming is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and brings schoolchildren out to the preserves for meaningful first-hand experiences with the natural world.

 Third Grade Naturalist Program

Kids at White Point
The program serves 24 schools annually, with approximately 2,000 youngsters coming from elementary schools in Palos Verdes, San Pedro, Lomita, Carson, Wilmington, Torrance, Redondo Beach and Los Angeles. About half of our students come from low income areas and Title One schools.

The 3rd Grade Naturalist curriculum is primarily presented by trained docent volunteers from the community. They come from all walks of life, and are often retired professionals with backgrounds in science, engineering, education, health, business, and the arts. Prior to teaching their first Third Grade Naturalist classes, docents attend a systematic training program that includes a series of lab and field experiences lead by our Education Program Manager.

It is not unusual that a docent establishes a close bond with the children at her school, along with a deep love of the subject matter, to the extent that she may teach for 5, 10, and even 20 years on a single campus.

The Program is fully aligned to 3rd Grade Next Generation Science Standards, and begins with a series of four carefully designed lesson plans that inspire lively, interactive, and artifact-rich experiences. Children are immersed in the processes of scientific inquiry as they examine fossil specimens, native plants species, native animal pelts, mineral samples, and native Tongva tools. Emphasis is placed upon the geology, early inhabitants, history, native plants, insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, so that at it’s conclusion, the children have learned (for example) how our Great Horned owls are able to fly so silently, which native plants the Tongva people used to make shampoo, and why landslides occur so often on this peninsula. The critical role that humans play in the protections and preservation of these lands, and the greater planet, is embedded throughout.

The final session is an excursion to a nearby open space or PVPLC preserve, depending upon the location of the school. As children explore, their parents volunteer at each of the learning stations, having been prepared in advance to teach about the particulars of that trail, ensuring that classroom learning experiences are applied in the real world setting. As a result, the whole family is inspired together. A real stewardship activity is always included in the final excursion, so that children and parents have a hands-on experience restoring native plants and supporting the survival of local wildlife.

This shared parent-child experience often leads to an increased familial interest in local hiking trails, outdoor spaces, wildlife, and the natural environment. In the years that follow, students will have many opportunities to remain engaged with the Land Conservancy, through programs like Adopt-A-Plot, film festivals, animal tracking programs, Scouts, native plant sales, volunteer restoration Team Leadership, and so on.

Click here to download a student notebook on the Peninsula's natural history, Nature Handbook for Third Grade Naturalists

 Wilderness Discovery Fieldtrip at George F Canyon Nature Center

Students

Our newest fieldtrip offering, developed in 2018, is a single visit, 2.5 hour, Naturalist-led excursion into the beautiful George F Canyon preserve and nature center. This fieldtrip is designed for 3rd grade students and is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. This excursion introduces children to the two distinct habitats of the George F Canyon Preserve. They learn about the canyon’s wildlife inhabitants, and consider how each creature’s ability to survive in the scrubland and/or woodland habitat depends upon whether it can meet its basic needs as it progresses through the stages of its life cycle. Students examine how plants and wildlife exist as an interdependent system. Throughout, children learn that humans have the ability to protect wildlife and do so when they solve problems to prevent damage to habitat.

This fieldtrip has several parts, which students and their parents experience within small, docent naturalist led groups

During a 45 minute docent naturalist guided hike through the scenic canyon, students are dispersed along the trail in small groups. They enjoy exploring two unique kinds of habitat: coastal sage scrub and riparian woodland, searching for wildlife as they go: reptiles, mammals, birds, and insects. Along the way, students come upon hanging cards that offer plant identification challenges, along with riddles, clues, and artifacts that help them identify each kind of plant they encounter. Docents explain how each plant is used by local wildlife species during various lifecycle stages.

During another part of this fieldtrip, students visit the Nature Center to explore related wildlife exhibits, including live animals, animal pelts, and taxidermy examples of local wildlife.

On the Observation Deck, students handle native plant leaf samples to create a colorful art project, while at the same time developing their ability to identify native plant species by the characteristics of their leaves.

Next, beneath the Learning Tree the students work together to assemble models representing the various stages of the life cycles of two different types of butterflies. They learn about the two native plants that the endangered Palos Verdes blue butterfly relies upon during each new phase of its life cycle. They hear the story of the plight of the PV blue butterfly, and about how it was once thought to be extinct.

Finally, students have the opportunity to take stewardship action, breaking open the dried pods of the rattlepod plant and scattering them, ensuring that a new crop of host plants will grow for another year.

 

Nature Centers

 George F Canyon Nature Center

Nature Center Hours: Friday 1-4pm, Saturday 10 - 4 pm, Sunday 10 - 4pm
Trail Hours: Dawn until dusk, daily
Location: Corner of Palos Verdes Dr. North and Palos Verdes Dr. East in Rolling Hills Estates
Address: 27305 Palos Verdes Drive East, Rolling Hills Estates, 90274
Contacts: Weekdays: 310-541-7613 Weekends: 310-547-0862 Email: info@pvplc.org

pdf2019 Nature Center Flyer [PDF: 251KB]

Woods Elemntary Students at George F Canyon
The George F Canyon Nature Center in Rolling Hills Estates overlooks a restored native plant demonstration garden that boasts a rainbow of wildflowers in the spring. A 1.6 mile trail winds through shaded riparian woodland habitat and coastal sage scrubland. Inside the center, visitors can interact with exhibits to learn about the plants, animals, insects, geology and natural history of the canyon. The Center also houses a small living animal collection that allows people to have a close view of some the wildlife that live in or near the canyon.

George F Canyon Activities

 White Point Nature Education Center

Nature Center Hours: Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 10-4pm
Trail Hours: Dawn until dusk, daily
Location: Corner of Palos Verdes Dr. North and Palos Verdes Dr. East in Rolling Hills Estates
Address: 27305 Palos Verdes Drive East, Rolling Hills Estates, 90274
Contacts: Weekdays: 310-541-7613 Weekends: 310-547-0862 Email: info@pvplc.org

pdf2019 Nature Center Flyer [PDF: 251KB]
White Point Education Center mural restoration
The White Point Nature Education Center is an educational facility located on a beautifully restored 102-acre preserve in San Pedro. It is housed in a sustainably renovated structure surrounded by a California native plant demonstration garden built as an educational and interpretive model of our local plant communities. Inside the Center, multimedia exhibits move visitors through a timeline of sequentially arranged exhibits and displays that tell the story of White Point’s cultural and natural history, spanning the Pleistocene age through the present. Noted muralists Robert Reid and Nelly Schouest from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in consultation with paleontologists, paleobotanists and entomologists created a mural depicting the area during the last ice age. Read more about the White Point Nature Education Center.

Click here for activities at the White Point Nature Education Center



Boy & Girl Scout Programs

  • Girl Scout Badges
  • Boy Scout Badges
  • Eagle, Gold or Silver Awards

     Girl Scout Badge Opportunities
    Kids at White Point

    Our Daisy: Eco Learner (K-1st grades) Nature gives us many gifts—learn some ways to give back by protecting nature. When you’ve earned this badge, you’ll have learned three ways to protect the environment when you go outdoors. Available by reservation only, at White Point Nature Center, on the 1st or 3rd Sunday of each month. $15 per Scout.

    Brownies: Hiker (2nd-3rd grades) Find out what you need to know to become a Brownie hiker. When you've earned this badge, you'll know how to hit the trail for a hike. Available by reservation only, at White Point Nature Center, on the 1st or 3rd Sunday of each month. $15 per Scout.

    Juniors : Animal Habitats (4th-5th grades) Find out more about where animals live, how they play, and how humans can help them. When you've earned this badge, you will know more about wild animals and how to protect their homes. Available by reservation only, at George F Canyon Nature Center, on the 2nd or 4th Sunday of each month. $15 per Scout.

    Contact Connie Smith, Director of Education at csmith@pvplc.org

     Boy Scout Badge Opportunities
    Kids at White Point

    Tiger Cub: Tigers in the Wild (1st grade) Tigers will learn how to put the “outing” in Scouting with this outdoor adventure. They will start to develop an understanding of the Outdoor Ethics program as they are introduced to many skills that will be important throughout their Scouting careers. Available by reservation only, at George F Canyon Nature Center, on the 2nd or 4th Sunday of each month. $15 per Scout.

    Wolf Cubs: Paws on the Path (2nd grade) This adventure will encourage the development of hiking skills in Scouts. Available by reservation only, at White Point Nature Center, on the 1st or 3rd Sunday of each month. $15 per Scout.

    Bear Cubs: Fur, Feathers, and Ferns (3rd grade) In this adventure, Bears will explore the outdoor world of mammals, birds, plants, and more! They will understand that every living thing has a home—often very close by. Scouts will also discover that almost every living thing’s neighborhood is a home to at least one type of another living thing. Protecting those homes, called habitats, is up to everyone, and Bears can help! Available by reservation only, at White Point Nature Center, on the 1st or 3rd Sunday of each month. $15 per Scout.

    Webelos: Into the Woods (4th-6th grades) n this adventure, Scouts will learn to identify plants and trees and how they differ in locations around the world. They will gain knowledge about ecosystems and the importance of conserving our natural resources. Available by reservation only, at George F Canyon Nature Center, on the 2nd or 4th Sunday of each month. $15 per Scout.

    Contact Connie Smith, Director of Education at csmith@pvplc.org

     Projects for earning Eagle, Gold or Silver Awards
    Kids at White Point

    The Conservancy is grateful for the contributions made to our work by Scouts earning their Eagle, Silver, and Gold Awards. Proposals for projects must be submitted to the Conservancy at least 120 days in advance. If the Conservancy is able to accommodate a Scout’s proposal, we will meet with the Scout to establish the project details, timeline, and completion date. We accommodate proposals so far as our staff time, our calendar of events, and the Conservancy’s goals will allow, so not all will be accepted.

    Contact: Volunteer Program Manager, Brittany Goldsmith at bgoldsmith@pvplc.org

    pdf2019 Boy & Girl Scout Flyer [PDF: 299KB]