The Los Angeles Audubon Society strives to expose elementary school children to our local natural wonders through our education programs at the Ballona Wetlands and Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area (KHSRA). The Kenneth Hahn program also serves to provide naturalist training and hands-on work experience to college students who participate as docent interns. These young adults attend a six week training program and then act as guides for students visiting the park on field trips. The interns also staff various stations during the tours, providing hands-on instruction and encouragement to our young nature enthusiasts. The interns are not only guides to the young students. In their eyes, they are “cool older kids” that teach them about animals and plants, and also role models. Some of our visitors tell us they want to work at the park when they grow up. At KHSRA we tell them if they do well in school and go on to college, they too can be an intern, just like their guide. Our college interns are an integral part of the program, and are part of a larger goal of creating a more diverse and younger demographic within the environmental movement.

Interns and Staff at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation AreaInterns and Staff at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area

The tours at KHSRA are becoming increasingly popular with local schools, with more and more classes attending each year. Much of this growth has come through word of mouth. Teachers and principals who spend a day with us at the park go on to refer others to the field trip, which is quite an endorsement of what we are doing. Usually the biggest obstacle a school faces when planning a field trip is finding a way to pay for their bus. Funding for transportation within LAUSD has been cut to the bone, and some students do not have a chance to travel off-campus at all. To this end LAAS has established a bus scholarship fund for eligible schools. This is a costly but essential service. It’s hard to communicate the wonder and necessity of open spaces if we can’t get the students to the great outdoors.

California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) Logo

California State Parks Foundation (CSPF)

Fortunately, we have recently received a grant from California State Parks Foundation (CSPF). The grant has been earmarked to help pay for some of the buses that transport young inner city students to the KHSRA, and to provide interns with a small stipend that will help to defray their transportation costs to the park. CSPF does wonderful work in supporting our state parks and providing the little extras, like field trips for inner city students to these state treasures. The Los Angeles Audubon Society is honored to be recognized for the work that we are doing at KHSRA, and thrilled to have help funding our bus scholarship program. We would like to thank CSPF for their generosity and support.