Dave Feliz, CDFW Central Region, (831) 728-2822
Lorili Toth, Elkhorn Slough Foundation, (831) 728-5939
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958
The Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve was one of 186 federal sites selected to receive a 2015 field trip grant from the National Park Foundation (NPF), as part of its Open OutDoors for Kids program. The NPF grant supports the White House youth initiative Every Kid in a Park.
The $7,680 grant will help fund transportation to bring local school children to the reserve in Watsonville to learn about the estuary, watershed and wildlife.
“We are so pleased to have this opportunity to bring more fourth graders to the reserve,” said Dave Feliz, who manages Elkhorn Slough Reserve for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). “This grant will enable the students, who may have never been to the reserve before, to explore this conserved land that is right in their neighborhood.”
Nine buses will arrive at the reserve over the next four months, carrying approximately 300 fourth graders from the communities of Castroville, Las Lomas and Watsonville.
“NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries and National Estuarine Research Reserves provide ideal settings for fourth graders and their families to experience hands-on activities that can inspire a sense of wonder and a thirst for knowledge about our ocean, coasts and Great Lakes,” said Dr. Russell Callender, acting assistant administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Ocean Service. “These grants will help us reach out to students who otherwise may not have the opportunity to visit a sanctuary or estuarine reserve.”
The Elkhorn Slough Reserve hosts nearly 7,000 K-12 students annually and provides outdoor science and environmental studies instruction. Teachers who complete the free Teachers on the Reserve program can conduct water-quality lessons or explore the life in a single drop of slough water in the reserve’s microscope lab. These lessons help the students understand how they are connected to their environment.
“We want to help people everywhere, from all backgrounds, discover how national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands and waters are relevant to their lives, and the best way to do that is to give people an opportunity to experience them firsthand,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation.
Elkhorn Slough is the largest tidal salt marsh in California south of San Francisco Bay, and is part of a watershed that features a variety of habitats, including oak woodlands, maritime chaparral and rare and threatened wetlands. More than 340 bird species have been identified in the Elkhorn Slough watershed, including more than 135 species of aquatic birds. The estuary also hosts more than 550 species of marine invertebrates and 102 species of fish, as well as resident sea lions, harbor seals and the largest concentration of endangered southern sea otters on the west coast.
Managed by CDFW with funding support from NOAA, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve is one of 28 reserves established nationwide to support long-term research, water-quality monitoring, environmental education and coastal stewardship. The Elkhorn Slough Foundation works in partnership with the reserve and will be administering these grant funds. For information, please visit www.elkhornslough.org.
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and a nonprofit partner of the National Park Service.