Midpen Grant Supports Hands-On Outdoor Science Education

Santa Cruz-based nonprofit Groundswell Coastal Ecology is creating a new generation of land stewards by engaging Pescadero youth in building coastal resilience. Groundswell’s work complements Midpen’s conservation efforts on the Coastside by educating youth about the importance of protecting local open space lands.

Using a $49,025 grant from Midpen, with additional support from the San Mateo Office of Sustainability, Groundswell built a native plant nursery on the Pescadero Middle and High School grounds. “The new community nursery is an important resource where students and the community can participate in the hands-on process of making our coastlines better for people and nature,” Groundswell Coastal Ecology Director Dr. Bill Henry said. “Encouraging community participation is fundamental to creating lasting positive change.”

Through hands-on learning experiences and scientific data collection, approximately 90 students from Pescadero Middle and High School are introduced to coastal ecosystems, the challenges facing coastal habitats, and the information land managers need to make informed stewardship decisions.

With guidance from an advisory team of land managers and restoration professionals, the students use the theory of design thinking to propose solutions and design a project related to either engineering green infrastructure, creating social resilience, or financing restoration projects. The top designs are presented to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and the California Coastal Commission.

Since expanding Midpen’s boundaries to include the San Mateo County Coast in 2004, Midpen has protected more than 11,000 acres of natural and agricultural lands that contribute to the area’s rural identity, natural beauty and quality of life. In 2014, voters passed Measure AA, a 30-year, $300 million bond funding open space projects identified in Midpen’s community-supported Vision Plan, including dozens of Coastside preservation, restoration and public access projects.

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