An Unforgettable Summer for Santa Rosa City Schools Students
By LandPaths Staff
August 26, 2021
Rambling with friends over logs, cracking up at jokes on a hike through oak woodlands, building shelters by the creek, getting a taste of life on a farm, painting nature scenes perched on a rock by the pond, learning about native plants and animals and how they can thrive, bonding with each other and the land—these are some of the magical moments that happened this summer thanks to an expanded partnership between LandPaths and Santa Rosa City Schools, the largest school district in the county.
“I cried at home thinking tomorrow is the last day,” said Alexa, age 10, after a week of friends, farm life, and creek fun at Preston Farm.
Two weeks of nature camp were held at LandPaths’ Bohemia Ecological Preserve and two weeks at Preston Farm in Healdsburg. With funding from Santa Rosa City Schools, the week-long camps were free for select students, including transportation and snacks, demonstrating LandPaths’ firm commitment to ensuring that nature is accessible to everyone. These sessions were in addition to LandPaths’ 12 weeks of summer camp programming open to all youth in the county.
“LandPaths has provided more of our students the opportunity to enjoy outdoor learning experiences in some of Sonoma County’s most beautiful open spaces,” says Kelley Dillon, Director of Teaching and Learning for Santa Rosa City Schools. “Never have these experiences been more important than now, after students spent the last year in remote and hybrid learning with limited access to interactive, in-person learning experiences.”
Campers appreciated the chance to hang out with friends in real life and take a break from screens.
“I’m grateful to my friend Bri for making me come here,” said Naomi, age 14. “If not, I would just be on my phone all week.”
LandPaths has long partnered with Santa Rosa City Schools on In Our Own Backyard (IOOBY), which gets elementary aged students outside for four field trips a year to learn science and nature connection aligned with Next Generation Science Standards at local open spaces. This summer marks the first time the organization has partnered with the district to offer free summer camps. “Many of the students at Title 1 schools have never left their neighborhoods, or maybe they’ve never left Santa Rosa,” says Kimbea Sapp, a 3rd grade teacher at Steele Lane Elementary School. “To go and see those places for real really makes a difference.”
“Much appreciation to Kelly Dillion, Director of Teaching and Learning at Santa Rosa City Schools, for the close partnership we’ve built over the past year, which has enabled us to provide these invaluable free outdoor experiences, transportation, and meals to students from Title 1 schools, where a high percentage of the population qualifies for free or reduced lunch,” says Jamie Nakama, LandPaths’ Youth Initiative Manager.
The kids had such a blast that they’re already looking forward to the next time!
“Here’s my email, so you can invite me to the next camp,” said Jesus.
Kelly Dillon, Director of Teaching and Learning, Santa Rosa City Schools
" LandPaths has provided more of our students the opportunity to enjoy outdoor learning experiences in some of Sonoma County's most beautiful open spaces. Never have these experiences been more important than now, after students spent the last year in remote and hybrid learning with limited access to interactive, in-person learning experiences. "