A Coastal Community-Themed Celebration of Environmental Stewardship

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As always, our program year seems to fly by in an instant. One of the best times of year is when our staff, board, and student interns take a nature break to share stories and celebrate the hard work everyone puts in. This year, Earth Team headed to Slide Ranch for a weekend of impactful story-telling, awesome views, educational activities, and all around good times.

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The weekend kicked off in Berkeley where students from 7 different East Bay Area schools joined together, in addition to a couple of graduated Alumni from the program. This LEAF (Leadership and Environmental Action Forum) Retreat was particularly unique because almost every one of our students already knew at least a few members in the group from participating in previous outdoor trips. These connections made a strong foundation to strengthen and build new relationships. After playing some name games, and sharing excitement for the trip, the group was off to the coast of Muir Beach!

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Participants received a camp orientation, learned about some safety topics, and finally set up tents with the help of each other. It wasn’t long before the open pasture turned into our little temporary Earth Team community home.

The group headed to the Slide Ranch farm site for tons of education, interactive activities. There, the group participated in baby goat feeding, bread making, cheese making, pasture management, beekeeping, sensory garden exploration and more. In our after-school programs, students work on issues related to; restoration, wildlife conservation, urban forestry, air quality, watershed health, and waste reduction. Slide Ranch focuses mainly on sustainable agriculture and husbandry, a new topic for all of our participants to engage in together.

After farm activities, participants headed down to the beach where they discussed ocean safety and all the cool things to keep an eye out for when exploring. The group saw lots of exciting things, like sand dollars, sea urchins, and even a crab fight!!! One of the highlights of the entire weekend was when one of the participants shouted out “WHALE!”. This act was the beginning of an unplanned 20+ whale watching session, with TONS of whales breaching and passing along the coastline. It was indeed a once in a lifetime sight-seeing experience.

The group followed their incredible whale watching experience with the program sharing portion of the day. Each school group presented on their programs and the projects they have been working on all year. Also, each had the opportunity to share what Earth Team means to them, and how participating in this program has given them confidence and influenced their perspective on the world and their place in it. The board was ecstatic to see so many young people advocating and stewarding our environment.

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To end the day, the group enjoyed a taco night dinner and smores around the bonfire. Everyone was in such a great mood, and the atmosphere was welcoming and full of love. The group participated in a few activities including affirmations, where individuals gave shout outs and appreciated one another for the energies and kindness people brought to the day. It was a heart-warming experience that truly made everyone feel at home.

The following day went by quick. The group learned more about animal husbandry and got the chance to milk a goat! Participants took down camp and participated in reflection activities to close out the day. Interns had incredible takeaways from the weekend, making it safe to say it was quite the success.

Tremendous thank you to our interns, Earth Team staff and board members, Slide Ranch staff, and all others who were a part of making this weekend so magical.

This trip would not have been possible without the generous contribution from California Coastal Conservancy. Thank you for supporting our efforts to connect youth to our oceans. After participating on this trip over 72% of interns reported feeling a greater sense of belonging to the coast.


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