The Coast News Group

$41K grant provides opportunities for Escondido students to explore outdoors

REGION — Thanks to a $41,200 grant Escondido elementary students will have opportunities to explore the outdoors, make discoveries and learn about nature.

The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy was awarded The San Diego Foundation Opening the Outdoors grant. Monies will fund the conservancy’s Get Out In Nature watershed project that benefits Escondido third- to fifth-grade students.

The project teaches students about the Escondido watershed, which begins in Escondido Creek above Lake Wohlford and winds 26 miles to the lagoon and ocean. Students come to understand how waterways connect our communities and learn how to be stewards of the environment.

Classroom lessons range from students brainstorming ways to reduce their daily water use, to mapping how water gets to their home and where it goes after it disappears down the drain.

Grant funds help ensure underserved students have access to nature. Students participate in interactive field trips and family activities that embrace nature. Lessons learned from a lagoon visit can then be applied to their local parks.

“We often meet children who have not seen the coast or a lagoon, and who rarely visit natural parks,” Tara Fuad, San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy education director, said.

Learning opportunities are provided by The Escondido Creek Conservancy, I Love A Clean San Diego, Outdoor Outreach and the conservancy.

Last year, more than 2,000 students, teachers and parents benefited from lagoon field trips and watershed activities for families.

Another 3,400 families attended Family Discovery Days at the nature center, which guide families in outdoor crafts, games and hikes, thanks to charter buses to and from Escondido at no cost to families.

The San Diego Foundation awarded a total of 11 Opening the Outdoors grants this year, which will engage 11,000 kids and 4,000 adults across the county.

Grant projects like the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy’s Get Out In Nature project increase access to natural resources.

Other grant projects enhance trails, signage and natural amenities in neighborhoods; encourage kids to engage with the natural environment through physical or educational activities; protect nature through conservation, restoration or acquisition of key lands; or engage residents in revitalizing natural areas in their communities.

“Through the Opening the Outdoors Program more San Diegans will grow up with a deeper connection to the outdoors and the local environment, which will help preserve our natural spaces for generations to come,” Katie Rast, The San Diego Foundation director of community impact, said.

Opening the Outdoors grants are funded through the Environment Endowment at The San Diego Foundation, Satterberg Foundation in partnership with San Diego Grantmakers, Brutten Family Fund, Willis & Jane Family Fund I, TCJ Fund, Eugene M. and Joan F. Foster Family Charitable Fund and other foundation donors.