U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
California

News.bytes Extra, issue 228

Three Hundred Students Visit the Desert Discovery Center

Almost 300 elementary school students from Victorville converged on the BLM Barstow Field Office’s environmental education center -- the Desert Discovery Center (DDC) -- on Wednesday, April 5, 2006. During four and a half hours, these students rotated between eight different stations, each focusing on a different aspect of desert life and environmental etiquette. With the help of nearly 45 volunteers from the BLM, National Park Service, the City of Barstow, Mojave River Valley Museum, Discovery Trails Corporation, San Bernardino County Search and Rescue, Barstow High School, and the Student Conservation Association, these students were able to learn about their surrounding Mojave Desert in a fun, hands-on manner.

Students gather around as the Student Conservation Association's interns discuss some of the adaptations of the desert wildlife
The Student Conservation Association's interns discuss some of the adaptations of the desert wildlife

Students learned about a variety of desert topics, from animal and plant adaptations to Leave No Trace ethics, and from geology to a "Closing the Loop" curriculum that focuses on solid waste and environmental awareness topics including landfills, recycling, packaging, resource conservation, waste prevention, worm composting, and more. Volunteers teachers presented information through videos, lectures, games, and interaction with live animals. Students were at each station for twenty-five minutes, allowing them enough time to learn the subject matter without being stuck in one place for too long.

Below: Barstow high school students teach the children about the fascinating desert geology
Students from Barstow High School teach the children about the fasinating desert geology

This large gathering of students and volunteers garnered the attention of the Governor’s office. Larry Grable, director from the Governor’s Riverside Field arrived early to learn about the DDC’s programs and to see environmental education in action. He was impressed by the DDC’s ability to teach so many students effectively at one time and planned to research how the Governor’s office might support the DDC in the future.

With the hard work of volunteer instructors and the students' willingness to learn, the DDC was able to pull off the largest school program in its history. Despite a little rain, the field trip went off without a hitch, and now there are almost 300 students with a newfound appreciation of the Mojave Desert.

Below: 300 students from Victorville converge on the Desert Discovery Center
300 Victorville students converge on the Desert Discovery Center 300 Victorville students converge on the Desert Discovery Center (the building in the background)

Student Conservation Association interns demonstrate the waxy adaptation of the creosote bush to the visiting students using a spray bottle of water:
The Student Conservation Association's interns demonstrate the waxy adaptation of the cresote bush to the visiting students using a spray bottle of water

San Bernardino County Search & Rescue squad educate the students on desert safety:
San Bernardino County Search & Rescue squad educate the students on desert safety

- April 2006

BLM California News.bytes, issue 228