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Reserve Teacher Training Plans

There are six reserves participating in the 2001 HOST Program.  Click on a reserve to learn more about that reserve's Teacher Training Plan.

Coal Oil Point Reserve 

Hastings Natural History Reservation 

Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve 

Motte Rimrock Reserve

Santa Cruz Island Reserve

Scripps Coastal Reserve


Coal Oil Point Reserve

This reserve offers a unique opportunity to experience numerous natural habitats at a walking distance from UC Santa Barbara, located along the Santa Barbara Channel. Each year, 1,200 K-12 students from nine local schools take day trips to the reserve. A self-guided walking tour of the perimeter of the site is available, however most classes come to study tidepools. Additional adjacent habitats in pristine condition include dunes, salt marsh, vernal pools, coastal dune scrub, and others. Outreach goals for this reserve include the development of learning materials to support field trips and the development of an interpretive trail.

During the first week of one-on-one training at the reserve, the reserve manager will provide the HOST teacher with an intensive reserve orientation. This orientation will include extensive on-site introductions to reserve habitats and species as well as reading material. The teacher will also be given a handout during the first week outlining specific research projects in the following areas:

human disturbance of endangered snowy plovers,
restoration of dune vegetation,
distribution of dune beetles,
organisms of kelp wrack,
diversity among different aquatic communities, and
landscape and habitats.

The HOST teacher will select two or more research questions, and with the help of the reserve manager, will set up field experiments. The reserve manager will provide guidance and support to the teacher to complete the experiment. Using newly developed skills and field experience, the teacher will then develop a lesson plan describing each experiment for the high school level.

The teacher may also suggest a research topic of his/her own as long as it is within the expertise of the reserve manager of the Coal Oil Point Reserve. The manager is a resident biologist who has taught several courses at the reserve for various grade levels. Her main personal interests involve the interactions of insects with plants, environmental; conservation, and restoration ecology.

Since this reserve lacks overnight facilities, it is best suited for day use by a local teacher from the Santa Barbara region.


Hastings Natural History Reservation

This reserve is set in the rolling hills of upper Carmel Valley, 26 miles from Carmel and a 1.25-hour drive from Salinas in Monterey County. Its abundance of animal species and habitats, including oaks and grassland, as well as its very long history of research make this reserve an important setting for many forms of K-12 outreach. Outdoor learning facilities and multifaceted outreach programs are currently being developed for this site.

Due to the high research use of this reserve (some researchers have resided there for over 20 years), the HOST teacher will be able to gain insight into diverse field methods. He/she will observe behavioral ecology studies of several species, including western bluebirds, acorn woodpeckers, and wild turkeys. 

The HOST teacher at this reserve will receive in-depth training on identifying and restoring native vegetation with an emphasis on native grasses. He/she will learn to recognize 25 species of native grass, 25 species of nonnative grass, and up to 30 species of other native non-grass plants (such as oaks and related woodland). He/she will train in the collection of seeds following guidelines certified by the State of California and learn methods for plant inventories, including preparing specimens for herbarium collections. The teacher will also learn to grow native seeds in the classroom, which will enable the teacher to bring students on field trips to the reserve to restore native grasses. Using a plant press, the HOST teacher will create plant cards for many of the plants at the reserve, which can be used as teaching tools in the classroom and during field trips on site.

This site has overnight facilities which can accommodate a teacher from afar. It is also suitable for day-use commuting for a teacher from the Salinas Valley, Monterey, or Carmel areas. A teacher from these neighboring regions may opt to develop a schedule that combines commuting and staying overnight. 


Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve

Set in the coastal Santa Lucia Mountains near Big Sur in Monterey County, this land-and-water reserve is large, remote, and provides excellent opportunities for local K-12 outreach. For fourteen years, the reserve has had an award-winning teacher in residence, Kim Smiley, who develops K-12 curricula and learning materials, leads instructional tours, and trains teachers in the region.

The HOST teacher will train primarily with Kim, and the resident reserve manager/biologist, Dr. John Smiley, will be available for consultation. The HOST teacher will help improve the Big Creek Reserve's outdoor education program by assisting Kim on varied projects, such as data collection, specimen preparation, and projects involving the outdoor education yurt (field-based teaching facility). The HOST teacher will learn natural history and teaching techniques by working with Kim in updating and improving outdoor education units and data sheets and creating a new teaching unit which can be used at Big Creek and at other natural areas closer to school.

Teaching units include: 

"Stoked on Oaks" Curriculum
Banana Slug Unit
"Catch a Wave" Curriculum
Animal Adaptations Using Study Skins/Animal Skull Discovery Unit,
Stream Insects Discovery and Data Collection,
Plant Scavenger Hunt and Habitat Hike, and 
Owl Unit.

By training one-on-one with an expert in field-based education, the HOST teacher assigned to the Big Creek Reserve will gain scientific knowledge, skills, and in-depth understanding of this site's environment which may be applied to other natural areas. The HOST teacher may take his/her own students on field trips to this site as well as adapt the reserve teaching units for use in natural settings closer to his/her school.

Although scenic and spectacular, the Big Creek Reserve is a steep, rugged place. The HOST teacher should be prepared to hike mountain trails and drive narrow dirt roads. He/she will stay in the new researcher cabin at the reserve. This is a shared facility, and space depends on the presence and needs of other researchers. There will be bunk space, but no private rooms. Like other researchers, the HOST teacher is responsible for his/her own meals, shopping, and laundry. The cabin has a fully equipped kitchen and a clothes-washing machine. The nearest grocery shopping is in Monterey, a 75-minute drive north of the reserve. There are a few local restaurants. Public transportation is not available; the teacher must bring a car.

Since this reserve provides overnight facilities, it can accommodate a HOST teacher from virtually anywhere in California. The site is located in the central Santa Lucia Mountains on the coast of Monterey County, which is 5 miles north of Lucia, 20 miles south of Big Sur, 50 miles south of Monterey along Highway 1, and a 2-hour drive from UC Santa Cruz.


Motte Rimrock Reserve

(All HOST teachers will join together at this reserve for the 5-day introductory course from June 25 to 29.)

This reserve is located in the city of Perris in Riverside County, 15 miles south of UC Riverside. Its interesting boulder-strewn landscape covered with a variety of vegetation has high potential for student learning through hands-on involvement. This site hosts numerous ongoing research and environmental monitoring projects, featuring coastal sage scrub, birds, and threatened and endangered species.
The HOST teacher at the Motte Rimrock Reserve will work directly with the reserve manager and reserve steward to learn about the reserve's primary habitats (including coastal sage scrub, a habitat of concern), Native American rock art, and many animal species of concern, including threatened and endangered animals. The teacher will go out on point counts and transect walks, monitoring birds, mammals, and herps (reptiles and amphibians) visible during the day. He/she may also observe vegetation-mapping projects.

Native vegetation restoration will be a major area of hands-on training for the HOST teacher. He/she will learn how to collect native seed, grow it in the classroom, and then plant native vegetation at the reserve with his/her students.

The HOST teacher's training will dovetail nicely with the reserve's ongoing hummingbird leg-banding project. The reserve manager is a certified bird bander, who has been banding for research and instruction since 1975. For three years she has led a hummingbird banding project at the Motte Rimrock Reserve consisting of a team of more than 20 bird banders, including high school and grade school teachers, college instructors, and others in the community. The HOST teacher will join this ongoing project and will learn to band hummingbirds - a highly specialized skill - from the reserve manager and other certified banders. Through the hummingbird program, the HOST teacher will learn about initiating and conducting research, handling and banding this specific and special type of bird, collecting data, and entering data into computers.

The reserve manager and/or the reserve steward will take the HOST teacher on a field trip to another NRS reserve administered by UC Riverside: the Emerson Oaks Reserve in Temecula Valley (50 minute drive from the Riverside campus). Here, mountain, desert, coastal, and interior-valley climatic zones converge, and the teacher will learn firsthand about native oaks, habitat transition zones, and the effects of exotic plant species.

This reserve is located near an urban area, making it well suited for day trips for local teachers from the Riverside area. It also has overnight facilities to accommodate a teacher from outside the area.


Santa Cruz Island Reserve

The largest of the California Channel Islands, Santa Cruz Island is located 19 miles off the coast of Ventura in Southern California. The Santa Cruz Island Reserve offers a truly unique opportunity to become immersed in nature and learning.

Due to the isolation of the island and cost of transportation, few K-12 students get the chance to visit. However, those that do often have a profound and even life-changing experience on the island. The skills and exposure the HOST teacher will gain at this reserve can enhance his/her understanding of the environment. This will prepare the HOST teacher for student field trips to the island and/or learning activities in other natural areas closer to school.

The HOST teacher's training will focus on the theme of biological diversity and how it is crucial to the function and maintenance of sustainable biological systems. Teacher training will emphasize the "island perspective," especially that of Santa Cruz Island and the other California Channel Islands. This perspective may be conceptually applied to other "island" settings, such as vegetation communities isolated by climate and topography or parks and preserves in urban areas. Past and current research conducted at the reserve will help illuminate the roles of isolation, microclimates, and topographical complexity in relation to biodiversity and ecosystem processes on islands. Biogeographical relationships and the importance of evolutionary and relict endemic species will be highlighted. The HOST teacher will work with a researcher studying and monitoring the endemic and endangered island fox. The teacher will be introduced to radio-telemetry, GPS (Global Positioning System), and GIS (Geographic Information System) technologies. Because the teacher will be associated with a project involving vertebrate species, he/she will review UC Santa Barbara animal care and use material posted on the World Wide Web prior to visiting the island. (Websites will be provided upon teacher selection.)

Conservation and the impacts of humans to the island's natural resources will also be an important component of the HOST training. Natural as well as human-caused disturbance and invasive species will be discussed, observed, and related to restoration and conservation projects. The HOST teacher will become involved in monitoring projects and the removal of exotic plants. In addition, the teacher will gain access to the reserve library, which contains plentiful literature on the island's natural history.

The HOST teacher will develop teaching materials that focus on the "island perspective." These materials may be used by the HOST teacher and other teachers visiting Santa Cruz Island and may be applied to many different natural settings on the mainland, including natural islands in a sea of urban development.

Teacher training at the Santa Cruz Island Reserve could be the opportunity of a lifetime. With two mountain ranges flanking a central valley, the island is extremely interesting, scenic, and diverse, but it is also very remote, with no medical facilities. The HOST teacher should be in good physical condition and able to do moderate-to-strenuous hiking. The HOST teacher will stay overnight in the island's fully equipped field station, which has private rooms, a shared kitchen, and clothes-washing machine. The reserve's phone is made available for emergencies only. The HOST teacher is encouraged to bring a cellular phone.

Since the island has overnight accommodations it would be suitable for a HOST teacher from virtually anywhere in California. Transportation to the island is arranged through the reserve manager and is made via chartered airplane (1 hour one-way) or boat (4 hours one-way).


Scripps Coastal Reserve

This dramatic site at the land-sea interface consists of a steep coastal bluff as well as underwater habitats. Located along the coast of La Jolla, it is within walking distance of UC San Diego and adjacent to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. This site will provide the focus for HOST training, which will also involve experiences at other diverse coastal habitats in San Diego. The HOST teacher will be based at the NRS office on the San Diego campus, allowing easy access to the Scripps Reserve less than 1/2 mile away.

The first two weeks of one-on-one training (July 2-13) will focus on Marine Habitats and will consist of:
Day-long introductions to at least three NRS reserves - Scripps Coastal, Dawson Los Monos Canyon, and Kendall-Frost Mission Bay Marsh Reserves - to see the connections between terrestrial and marine environments. The Kendall-Frost Marsh, in particular, affords a tremendous opportunity to observe a very rich shorebird fauna. 
Focused learning about the intertidal and subtidal environments at the Scripps and Kendall-Frost Reserves, including the most important species and processes found there, the regulations that protect them, and the methods for learning about them.
Participation in the NRS's monthly sandy beach monitoring protocol at the Scripps Reserve, including the preservation and identification of specimens.
Learning about student and faculty research in the field and laboratory relating to coastal marine environments and assisting in subtidal invertebrate sampling, sorting, identification, and recording.
Examination of field experiments conducted in UC San Diego undergraduate ecology lab classes to determine the feasibility of adapting them to their high school grade levels.
Visits to the Stephen Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (adjacent to the Scripps Reserve), which illustrates marine habitats and their scientific investigation worldwide. During the first month the teacher will work with the Stephen Birch Aquarium and NRS staff to create outreach materials that prepare teachers for bringing students to the intertidal zone as part of their school curricula. 

The last three weeks of one-on-one training (July 23 to August 10) will focus on Terrestrial Habitats. The HOST teacher will:

Learn methods of riparian habitat assessment and macroinvertebrate sampling (using species diversity as one indicator of stream quality), preservation, and identification.
Learn to identify terrestrial higher plant species through standard taxonomic methods. Learn to collect and preserve plants for the NRS herbarium. 
Be encouraged to meet with teachers from the new magnet K-12 school on the San Diego campus, the Preuss School, to learn what their curriculum needs are. (The Preuss School will begin with grades 6 through 8, increasing one grade each year.)

The Scripps Coastal Reserve has no on-site facilities, however the Kendall-Frost Reserve (7 miles south of San Diego) has a trailer which could provide overnight accommodations. Training at the Scripps Coastal Reserve and other UCSD-administer reserves is well-suited for a teacher from the San Diego region (who could commute daily to UC San Diego) or for a teacher from afar (who could stay overnight at the Kendall-Frost Reserve).