Campus: Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo -- May 16, 2000

Cal Poly Students Taking Wilderness Education to Elementary Schools

For the fifth consecutive year, students in the Cal Poly College of Agriculture's recreation administration environmental education class are taking wilderness education to San Luis Obispo elementary schools.

Although residents of the Central Coast live adjacent to 10 wilderness areas within the Los Padres National Forest, few local children have visited these areas, according to Recreation Administration Professor Bill Hendricks.

In the past four years, Hendricks and his students have taught more than 1,500 San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County elementary and middle school students ecological, social and cultural wilderness values and helped children develop wilderness recreation skills.

This year, Cal Poly students visited Bishop's Peak Elementary School and will visit Teach Elementary School on May 26.

The environmental education class includes students from a variety of majors, including recreation administration, forestry and natural resources, history, psychology, and environmental horticultural science.

The university students attend a two-day workshop made available by a partnership between the Wilderness Education Project (WEP) and the Cal Poly Recreation Administration Program. The WEP, based in Yosemite National Park, is a coalition of representatives from five national forests, two national parks and the Bureau of Land Management.

WEP Coordinator Barb Miranda and Hendricks have been conducting the local workshops for students, educators and park managers for five years.

Besides taking what they learn into public schools, the workshop-trained Cal Poly students aid with wilderness education in pre-schools, at-risk youth programs, environmental education camps, San Luis Obispo Farmers' Market, and Earth Day activities.

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