Next Generation Science Standards
By Charles Falzon
With this year’s Naturalist Training now complete, it feels as if our family is growing! We are fortunate to train eleven brilliant new Naturalists with in-depth information on the history, ecology, birds and restoration of the Bolsa Chica, including a brand-new talk on the healing properties of local native plants given by Matthew Teutimez of the Gabrielaño Band of Mission Indians, Kizh Nation. We are also thrilled to be launching a new volunteer internship program for young volunteers to experience a higher degree of involvement with the general running of Amigos’ daily operations. While Amigos is a volunteer-driven organization, and thus always excited to welcome new volunteers and create opportunities to utilize their talents in novel ways, we are equally vested in the importance of learning and in disseminating scientific fact in our education programs.
Science has been a cornerstone of the Amigos’ efforts since the beginning in 1976. We have long-been cognizant that an Amigos de Bolsa Chica tour of the Bolsa Chica is the equivalent of visiting an outdoor laboratory. Since our first “Docent Training Manual” was produced by Sally Jackson and Trude Hurde in 1986, the Amigos has put many hours into designing and providing the most comprehensive training possible to our Naturalists. Last year we revised the content of the training manual again to bring specific attention to the recently adopted Next Generation Science Standards. It is no surprise to some of our veteran volunteers that the information they’ve talked about for years to students, scouts and adults on wetland tours—the parts of a salt marsh habitat that are living and non-living, the interactions of different species, the uniqueness of each species and their adaptations to the salt marsh habitat, how the food chain benefits the ecosystem, and the importance of salt marsh to the environment—are 3-dimensional illustrations of core concepts addressed in the Next Generation Science Standards.
Who knew the Amigos de Bolsa Chica was so far ahead of the curve? One of the purposes of the standards that appeal to the Amigos’ long dedication to a principal of winning people over by knowing the facts is that they are designed to combat ignorance of science and help develop greater interest in science among students so that more of them choose to major in the sciences in college. If an Amigos’ tour of Bolsa Chica can assist any educator in adding a special dimension to their comprehensive study of environmental issues including community action, protection of endangered species, and coastal wetland ecology, we are thrilled we can do it.So if you haven’t heard, if you know of a teacher in search of a field trip that will help with their curriculum, we want to make sure everyone in our membership knows that that an Amigos de Bolsa Chica tour of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve helps educators meet specific Next Generation Science Standards required for their grade levels. And if you are a student who needs experience in marine ecology or informal science education non-profit management, the Amigos de Bolsa Chica has a role for you.