Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Area third graders visit Live Oak Park

FALLBROOK – The Live Oak Park Coalition, which offers a field trip program for local third grade students to visit Live Oak Park in the spring for a historic and educational nature hike through the 27-acre park.

The coalition handed the program to member Stephani Baxter back in 2016; however, the program has been on pause since 2020 at Fallbrook Union Elementary School District's request and the coronavirus pandemic and now, the children are back for tours. So far, Maie Ellis Elementary School and Fallbrook STEM Academy, La Paloma and Zion students have visited.

Volunteer docents are trained to guide students through the park in small groups, focusing on the native flora and fauna, habitats, birds of prey, Luiseno Native history and grinding stones, Fallbrook founding families' history, such as the Reche brothers, Vital and Anthony, and their famous honey, as well as the history of the 103-year-old park. The students can also do an owl pellet dissection, led by LOP county ranger staff and Senior Park Ranger Brian Ek.

As part of the program but not part of the field trip, one of the county park rangers visits the schools for a live bird of prey demonstration.

The current docents include residents with a variety of backgrounds, including retired teachers, nature enthusiasts, musicians, retired firefighters and Dave and Stephani Baxter of the coalition.

The 2023 docents include Marc Burroughs, Lita Tabish, Chris Shaw, Jann Tucker, Jen Campbell, Rick Hurley, Terry Allen, Eileen Weeks, Kathy Leonard, Lila Hargrove, Darren Roberson and the Baxters.

Founding coalition members include Roger Boddaert, Jackie Heyneman, Al and Donna Gebhart and others. The coalition was formed in the 1990s to help preserve the heritage and health of the county park.

The Baxters created an activity book, which was printed locally at Fallbrook Printing, for the students to do after their visit. The coalition provides all field trip materials and bus transportation for each school free of charge.

"The kids have a blast," Stephani Baxter said. "Many have visited the park for holidays, parties, pick up soccer games or play dates. For some, this field trip is their first visit to the park. They so enjoy being in nature, sharing their knowledge of nocturnal animals, learning their town history and earning a Jr. Ranger badge at the conclusion of their visit.

"They are encouraged to return to the park with their family and friends and lead them on a guided tour from all they learned on their field trip. In fact, over the weekend, students from Maie Ellis brought their families to the park wearing their recently earned Jr. Ranger badges. We are all stewards of our earth and our heritage, and it's refreshing to see the next generation take interest and share with others," she said.

Baxter also said that Live Oak Park has a time capsule. The Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce and the Fallbrook Historical Society buried the time capsule in the park in 1985, and it will be opened in 2035.

If anyone is interested in being a volunteer docent at Live Oak Park, contact Stephani Baxter at [email protected].

Submitted by Stephani Baxter.


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