2016 Programs in Review: A Year of Nature Learning with the EV!

January 7, 2017
  The EV is committed to bringing public nature programs to children, youth, families, and adults. Take a look back at our many offerings in 2016!

Art Exhibits

The EcoCenter hosts regular exhibits of art by local artists, photographers, and painters. Last year’s exhibits included Judy Kramer’s “A Bee’s Eye View”, Amanda Krause’s “Wings Over the Baylands”, Yao-pi Hsu’s “Life.Water”, Peninsula Open Space Painter’s “POPs in the Baylands” and the third annual Ravenswood Art Show!

Baylands Beautification Day

In July, members of the public removed non-native invasive plants, provided mulch for native plants, and created protected areas for beneficial plants and insects in the Palo Alto Baylands around the EcoCenter.

Birds of a Feather

This May event was a great opportunity for children and adults to further their interest in learning about birding. Our volunteers and staff walked attendees through introductory observation exercises, focusing on both the feathers and beaks, using interactive learning stations. Towards the end of our program, attendees were guided on a hike in the Baylands to observe birds, using the skills they had learned during the introductory activities.

Community Programs

At the EcoCenter, the EV worked with a number of local organizations and schools to provide educational programs and service learning opportunities. In 2016, we had the pleasure of serving: Siena Youth Center, Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula, Catholic Charities Youth Club, Abilities United, Family Connections, College Track, YMCA of East Palo Alto, as well as corporate groups Hewlett Packard Enterprise and LinkedIn.

Drought and Wildlife

The EV’s Youth Leadership Board created and presented their Drought and Wildlife Educational Event in May, which focused on how the drought affects wildlife and what attendees can do to help save water.

EcoCenter on Wheels

In June, we celebrated the launch of the EcoCenter on Wheels, a mobile learning station that brings hands-on learning activities into the community. Teen docents hit the trails in the Baylands and taught visitors about bay plants, mammal skull adaptations, as well as birds, nests, and eggs!

Educate for Action

2016 was the 3rd year of our Educate for Action initiative made possible by generous grant from the Satterberg Foundation. This year, a team of staff and volunteers have been busy reviewing and updating the EV’s curriculum so that it meets 3 key measures:
  1. Increasing stewardship education within our programs
  2. Adapting curriculum to support the Next Generation Science Standards
  3. Improve connection and efficacy of our curriculum for students who are English Language Learners through Educate for Action, our goal is to empower students to act as action-oriented environmental stewards while continuing to deepen their knowledge of environmental science.

Explore! Summer Camp

Our fun-filled weeklong summer camps were held at the EcoCenter this year. Through hands-on activities, hikes, and field trips to local nature preserves, our campers were able to develop a love of nature, gain science skills, cultivate wonder, and also have fun! Girls in Science camp also offered 2 weeks of specialized learning for girls with a keen interest in the sciences.

First Fridays for Homeschoolers

First Fridays at the EcoCenter are designed for homeschool learners ages 6-12 who are interested in natural sciences. In 2016, docents led students through fun educational activities on topics such as marine ecology, forest and foothills ecology, and birds.

Fun with Mud

This special interactive presentation for all ages in June featured a hands-on learning activity with marshland mud creatures. Docents demonstrated the fascinating details of the food chains that exist within the Bay’s ecosystems. Participants had the opportunity to get their hands dirty by searching through mud samples from the Palo Alto Baylands and exploring the creatures that make up a salt marsh food chain.

Kid Powered

Kid Powered! is our out-of-school program that introduces students in grades 3rd–5th to environmental science. Kid Powered! participants took part in fun, hands-on activities that build field science skills and inspire an appreciation of local wildlife and ecology. Over four weeks, kids participated in a variety of activities, such as discovering the variety of life inside bay mud, using utensils that simulate bird beaks to pick up objects and understand why different birds have different shaped beaks, and play an interactive game that shows the importance of the Baylands to the greater ecosystem of the bay.

Transportation Fund

Through the Transportation Fund, the EV facilitates access to environmental education field trips for low-income youth (K-12) in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2016, the EV was selected as a recipient of a $200,000 Game Changer Grant by the 50 Fund, directly benefiting the Transportation Fund. The grant will provide field trips for over 13,000 local students in the 2016-2017 school year!

Women in Science

Through a series of Women in Science events at the EcoCenter, local girls in grades 3-5 had the opportunity to work with female scientists in a range of fields to explore, discover, and grow their confidence in the field of natural science!

Youth Leadership Board

Youth Leadership Board (YLB) was a yearlong program that helped local teens develop skills in leadership, communication, and team building. Our teen YLBers also developed capstone projects devoted to local environmental awareness, advocacy, and service learning.