Students from Marce Becerra Academy in Healdsburg experienced many "firsts" on their final outing with theLandPaths' Inspired Forward Program at Rancho Mark West: sitting alone in silent reflection in the forest, catching fish, as well as eating grilled vegetables on top of their hamburgers!
Throughout the year, these high school students spent four days with LandPathsat various open spaces around Sonoma County - working to improve a landscape by pulling French Broom at Riddell Preserve, learning survival skills with Weaving Earth at Healdsburg Ridge, cooking slow meals together in the field and breaking a sweat while hiking the trails at Rancho Mark West (one trail newly built this year by Hermanitas-MANA - another group of Inspired Forward students). When asked on this final field day, how they'd want to help steward the land moving forward, the answer from Marce Becerra was clear: They wanted to build a trail, too!
In response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012, LandPaths immediately initiated Inspired Forward, a program geared towards (re)connecting teenagers with their local landscapes, encouraging exercise and healthy food, while engaging in an ongoing dialogue about true leadership, citizenship and a vision for a positive future. Now in its third year, the Inspired Forward program works with three distinct teen groups- Marce Becerra Academy, Roseland Accelerated Middle School and Hermanitas-MANA. Next yearLandPaths plans to expand the program to include at least five groups.