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Pacific Ridge School Students Use Science as a Civic and Service Learning Tool

Last month, 20 middle school students from Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad traveled to the Calavera Hills and Robertson Ranch Habitat Conservation Area to collect native seeds, rake dead grasses, and help restore areas of the preserve that have become

As part of the Pacific Ridge School's Service Learning program, 20 middle school students have been working at the Calavera Hills and Robertson Ranch Habitat Conservation Area for a year under the guidance of Patrick McConnell, San Diego Preserve Manager for the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM).

Last spring, Pacific Ridge students helped plant over 500 native plants and improved irrigation in a small section of the 250-acre preserve. Currently, they are combining science with service by de-thatching areas of ground while leaving adjacent areas alone. When the native plants start to grow in January, students will study the impact of the de-thatching, scientifically testing the theory that the treated areas will show more robust growth.

Built into the curriculum and the school day, the Service Learning program at Pacific Ridge School guides students as they take abstract concepts from the classroom and apply them in real-world situations. Service Learning integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich each student’s academic experience, teach civic and ethical responsibility, and strengthen communities for the common good.

“This is exactly the kind of partnership we strive for,” says McConnell. “Promoting conservation values through education is part of our mission. And, the Pacific Ridge students provide a significant amount of hands-on attention to the project.”

The relationship between CNLM and Pacific Ridge School spans roughly five years, and is beneficial to all involved, according to McConnell.

Students are also sprouting six varieties of native seeds in labs on the Pacific Ridge School campus. When the seedlings are well established, students will plant them on the property, helping to preserve this dedicated natural preserve. The conservation area includes sensitive native habitat, restored agricultural land, and hiking trails for public enjoyment.

For more information about Pacific Ridge School and its service learning curriculum, visit pacificridge.org. For more information about the Center For Natural Land Management, visit clnm.org.

–PRS Press Release

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