River Parkway Trust to expand environmental education program services in 2018 

January 18, 2018

firebaughbirdstationFRESNO, CA - The San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust (River Parkway Trust) will expand current environmental education services to provide outdoor educational experiences for nearly 1,300 underserved pre-K through 12th-grade students in 2018. This program expansion is made possible by a grant from The Community Foundation, which serves Inland Southern California (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties). Program partners include Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District, Fresno Unified School District, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central California.   

The overall program, entitled Environmental Education on the San Joaquin River, will consist of a series of field trips designed to connect participants to the natural world.  Students will learn about local history, natural history and wildlife, the benefits of outdoor recreation, and the importance of respectful interactions with nature through fun and engaging games and activities that take place along the banks of the San Joaquin River.

Trips will take place between February and December of 2018.  During this time period every Kindergarten – 5th-grade classroom in the city of Firebaugh, 10 low income or Title V pre-K groups from Fresno, and 90 Big Brothers Big Sisters members will be provided an outdoor education field trip led by River Parkway Trust staff and volunteers.  The goal of this program is to encourage today’s youth to visit green spaces and parks on their own in the future.

The River Parkway Trust has provided outdoor environmental education programs, including field trips and summer day camps, for more than 25 years. Funding from The Community Foundation will enable the River Parkway Trust to reach new students and families in the Central Valley and expand on the success of existing education programs like the River Buddies pre-school program, the Madera Unified 6th Grade Field Trip program, and the River Camp Firebaugh summer day camp program.

“Outdoor learning experiences – or even just time spent outside – are so important for today’s youth, and these experiences are something a lot of local children and communities don’t have access to. We’re thrilled to have this opportunity thanks to The Community Foundation to reach some of those students with limited access and provide them with outdoor education. We hope to create a connection between them and their local environment.” Molly Schnur-Salimbene, Community Programs Director.

The River Parkway Trust’s environmental education programs seek to address the increasing trend of reduced access to outdoor experiences and natural settings among today’s youth. Most of the children served through the organization’s environmental education programs have never visited a natural setting outside their neighborhood prior to their experience with the River Parkway Trust. Programs are focused on settings along the San Joaquin River that have available public access.

“We provide an introduction to the resources local children and families need to become empowered to spend more time outside,” said Molly. “And we are seeing families return to the Parkway following their children’s participation in our programs.”

The San Joaquin River Parkway & Conservation Trust, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit land trust formed in 1988 to create a 22-mile Parkway along the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam to Highway 99. More information about the Trust’s projects and programs is available at www.riverparkway.org.  

Sarah Parkes, Director of Annual Giving 
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