Santiago High School AP Environmental Science students started their first out of three planned field trips under our WHALES Program at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach.
Before taking their 2.3 mile trek on the wetlands, students were able to explore the exhibits of Bolsa Chica provided by the touch pool and various taxidermy at the center.
They were also intrigued by their encounter with a California Kingsnake! Although cautious at first, the students learned that the species was non-venomous and were eager to gently touch her.
On their journey across the wetlands, students were able to learn the difference between high and low tide, and how endangered the ecosystem has become. Their guide stated that wetlands must be preserved so the animals that depend on the habitat can have a safe place to live and breed. Furthermore, she added that it was important that we uphold the environmental standards and laws that are meant to protect these animals and precious wetlands by not littering and throwing away trash responsibly.
After their hike, students made a positive impact to the wetland by removing two invasive plants: Russian thistles and Australian saltbush. All forty-three students were excited to be proactive environmental stewards in their natural, outdoor classroom.
Shortly after, the students were able to visit the Environmental Nature Center, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) center that neatly exhibits fifteen of California’s unique native plant communities. These high school students unleashed their inner child as they wandered and marveled around the five-acre facility. Stationed in Newport Beach, anyone is welcome to the Environmental Nature Center, which is designed to teach people of all ages to learn and appreciate the natural wonders of California.
Blog and photos by Christine H. Do for Coastkeeper