AVALON, Calif. – Every year, from September through April, the Catalina Island Conservancy’s Education Department offers a once-monthly program free to all Catalina residents, called Families in Nature. The program offers residents an opportunity to explore and experience the beautiful wildlands of Catalina.
The Conservancy takes families to a different destination on the wild side, giving them an opportunity to see areas, which might be hard to access otherwise. Each trip includes a potluck-style barbecue that helps build community among the group as the families share food and create memories while enjoying Catalina’s interior.
This past year’s Families in Nature program featured trips to Little Harbor, Haypress, Bosky Dell, Shark Harbor and Two Harbors, delighting staff and community members. At each venue, a Conservancy employee led a nature walk that offered explanations about native plants and animals, as well as a chance to experience more of the Island.
The past year’s Families in Nature program concluded with an outing to Two Harbors that drew one of the largest groups of the year. With the support of Wildlands Express driver Richie Ponce and the Conservancy’s director of facilities, Tom Wassing, the group made the 90-minute drive west in Conservancy vehicles to Buffalo Park.
Over 60 children, parents, grandparents and friends came together to enjoy a beautiful day at the park. A combination of residents who had attended before joined with first-time participants at the barbecue, where they shared homemade dishes and enjoyed entertainment provided by Conservancy wildlife biologist Tyler Dvorak, who played the guitar.
After lunch, almost half the families took a hike to Ballast Point where they enjoyed learning about Catalina’s native plants, as well as some of the history of Catalina “Cat” Harbor.
Those who remained at Buffalo Park took full advantage of the playground and explored Isthmus Cove. Martha Flores, who often participates in Families in Nature, said she was grateful to the Conservancy’s staff for giving her the opportunity to visit the wild side.
The Conservancy was able to sponsor Families in Nature during the 2014-2015 season thanks to a generous grant provided by Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. The grant provided funding for transportation and supplies, like charcoal and children’s games.
Families in Nature will resume in September, so be on the lookout for flyers and ads with more information. Pre-registration is necessary for all events because space is limited and the vehicles fill quickly.
By Elizabeth Bailey
Elizabeth Bailey is the Conservancy’s education program assistant. For more information on Families in Nature and the Conservancy, please visit CatalinaConservancy.org.
The Catalina Island Conservancy was formed in 1972 and is one of California’s oldest land trusts. Its mission is to be a responsible steward of its lands through a balance of conservation, education and recreation. The Conservancy protects the magnificent natural and cultural heritage of Santa Catalina Island, stewarding approximately 42,000 acres of land, 62 miles of rugged shoreline and more than 80 miles of trails. It operates the Airport in the Sky, Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden and two nature centers. Twenty miles from the mainland, the Island is home to more than 60 plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. - Watch Video
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