Audubon Canyon Ranch’s environmental education programs serve elementary school students, visitors to ACR sanctuaries, and hundreds of active volunteer naturalists. ACR’s award-winning environmental education programs operate from Martin Griffin Preserve and Bouverie Preserve during the spring and fall. Between 6,000 and 7,000 school students from ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco, Marin, Alameda, Sonoma and Napa counties participate in experiential nature education programs on ACR properties each year.
The preserve visit is the central experience of the program. The visit consists of a 3-hour guided nature hike, during which volunteer docents engage students in the discovery of the natural environment of ACR’s preserves. Students explore California woodlands, view nesting herons and egrets, discover pond or creek ecology, have hands-on experiences with amphibians, learn Coastal Miwok folklore, and learn to use binoculars, telescopes and field microscopes. The 1:6 docent–to-student ratio in the field enables individual teaching and learning.
Prior to student visits to the preserve, a team of volunteer docents spends time in the classroom to provide background information about the natural environment and prepare the students for their visit. ACR also creates lesson plans and materials for teachers that are designed to link environmental concepts with California state science standards.