YMCA, Point Bonita, Marin Headlands, California

YMCA, Point Bonita, Marin Headlands, California

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Animal Adaptations and Lore: Examine local land animals and their tools for survival.  Ecological relationships, such as predator/prey interactions, are explored through discussions, games, and comparative anatomy, as well as native stories and legends.

Birds: Identify and appreciate the diversity of land and shorebirds that live in and migrate through the Marin Headlands every year! A major flyway for raptors, the Headlands is the perfect place to spot hawks and falcons. Rodeo lagoon and beach provide a rich stopover for shorebirds like pelicans, terns, and nesting cormorants. Migration routes, feeding and nesting habits, and niches are discussed.

Community and Group Building: Groups develop and build leadership and group communication skills through a series of physical and intellectual challenges.  Conflict resolution strategies, cooperative decision making, group problem-solving, and trust in and respect for others are emphasized. Because these skills are integral to the YMCA and AOTE educational philosophy, this topic is always present during the program, but may receive variable emphasis.

Cultural History: Across the centuries, a variety of different cultural groups have lived, worked, and survived in the Marin Headlands.  Explore how native Miwok peoples, Portugese dairy farmers, Spanish vaqueros, the US Army, the National Park Service, and various nonprofit groups have met their needs and affected the land.  

Earth Science: Learn about the physical interactions between land, water, fire, and air that have shaped this unique location. Fascinating natural geologic displays provide a backdrop for engaging demonstrations of planetary processes.  This program topic includes elements of meteorology, oceanography, geology, geography, and hydrology.

Environmental Issues: Understand how each one of us personally affects the world around us.  Issues such as pollution, global warming, endangered species, and resource management may be discussed. Focus is on students' ability to make positive changes in their communities.

Habitats and Ecosystems: Students examine and compare local animals, plants, and physical features that define particular areas. We focus on the interdependence and relationships between these elements, such as food webs and plant succession.

Lighthouse History: Travel through a hand hewn tunnel and across a small suspension bridge to the Point Bonita Lighthouse!  Still in operation today, this lighthouse was originally built in 1855 and moved to the tip of Point Bonita in 1877. Discuss the history and significance of lighthouses in the San Francisco Bay Area and how they guided settlers and boats into the bay.

Marine Biology: Discover and examine the plants and invertebrate animals living along local shores, and their tools for survival. Compare sandy beach and rocky inter-tidal habitats.  Students can participate in the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association's LiMPETS program, monitoring Pacific Mole crabs on Rodeo Beach! 

Marine Mammals: Learn about behaviors and adaptations of local species, such as harbor seals and gray whales, as you search for them just off of the Marin Headlands shores!  Understand how the ocean's abundant springtime productivity supports sea lions, elephant seals, dolphins, porpoise, and over 11 species of whales just 25 miles offshore at the Farallon Islands!

Organic Farming/Gardening for Health: Visit a recently refurbished on-site organic garden to learn about the cultivation of plants from seed to harvest.  Students may participate in gardening projects, such as planting, composting, or tasting vegetables and herbs.  Learn about Food Production and waste disposal before and after delicious, nutritious meals from or Dining Hall.

Plant Adaptations and Lore: Identify local plants, both native and introduced, and their tools for survival.  Groups will discuss traditional and current uses, native lore, historical significance, and habitat degradation.  Student may visit the Headlands native plant nursery. 

Redwood Ecology: Experience the awe and wonder of this west coat giant, the California state tree!  Learn about its unique ecology and the plants, animals, and fungi that thrive in its shadow.  Visits to Muir Woods National Monument or Samual P. Tayor State Park can be arranged.

Service Learning: Engage and empower students through group activities and projects that "give something back" to the local environment.  Projects include habitat restoration, beach clean up, historic restoration and trail maintenance.

Wetlands & Watersheds: Explore local watersheds, including Rodeo Lagoon and pond, through investigation of animals and plants particular to those areas.  Students can participate in "field science" by conducting water quality testing.  Discussion of the larger California and San Francisco Bay watersheds and their tributaries expand learning to include home communities.