FALLBROOK – Fall is planting time, or "the big dig," as Fallbrook Land Conservancy's Save Our Forest environmental education program has come to be known. Way back in 2004, Save Our Forest volunteers began introducing students at Live Oak Elementary School to the joys of planting new trees and shrubs in San Diego County open space.
Since then, young volunteers have planted many new trees at FLC's Dinwiddie, Hellers Bend, and Los Jilgueros preserves. These preserves are not county parks and are not maintained by county caretakers. Many of these properties, which are owned by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy, were formerly groves. Restoring them to native growth is the conservancy's purpose.
A kiosk on the east trail of Los Jilgueros Preserve has recently been finished, highlighting the student's participation in planting native plants there for the past several years. The kiosk also honored the donors who fund the costs of transportation and plants. This year the two-year program involves 724 students in the fourth and fifth grade.
"Our goal is to restore native growth in nature preserves and help the next generation to understand the importance of natives for conservation," explained SOF executive director Jackie Heyneman. "We work closely with environmental education groups, the Fallbrook Garden Club and various volunteers in a real community partnership."
Fourth and fifth grade students take part in this two-year program, learning how important trees and shrubs are in their rural community, what it takes to keep them healthy, and hands-on training potting baby natives.
Students then enjoy field trips to the preserves for the final planting. Now all five elementary schools in Fallbrook participate in this program. "We truly are planting seeds of conservation caregiving in our youth," Heyneman added. "And a little rain dance now and then is appreciated!"
Many volunteers facilitate the classroom educational planting sessions, and the field trips for putting the plants into the ground. Jean Dooley is the coordinator and seeks volunteers to work with the students from Save Our Forest and the Fallbrook Land Conservancy, the Fallbrook Garden Club, Fallbrook Beautification Alliance and many others.
For more information on the this and other FLC programs, visit http://www.FallbrookLandConservancy.com.
Submitted by Save Our Forest.