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Los Angeles County Office of Education Considers TWC Offer of Possible Site for Outdoor Science School - July 2002 (Los Angeles County Office of Education)

The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC) closed escrow last week on Grace Valley Ranch, a 183-acre camp in the San Bernardino Mountains, and has offered the site to the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) as a possible site for a permanent Outdoor Science School.

Los Angeles County Outdoor Science School has operated for more than 40 years, providing outstanding outdoor science education in the beauty of nature's classroom. In recent years, The Wildlands Conservancy has provided leadership and financial support that has allowed participation in the Outdoor Science Schools to increase dramatically. There is a great need to provide direct, experiential instruction for students in the outdoors. The Wildlands Conservancy has risen to the need and provided funding for thousands of students to attend the Los Angeles County Outdoor Science Schools.

Over the course of the first two years of working with LACOE, TWC has provided funding for more than 8,000 students, teachers and cabin leaders to attend the Los Angeles County Outdoor Science School for a week-long, intensive learning experience. Children, teachers and even parents have spent more than 38,800 days in the outdoors, funded by the generosity of The Wildlands Conservancy.

The Wildlands Conservancy has provided further assistance with transportation by paying for the sometimes prohibitive cost of buses to take kids to Outdoor Science School. When a child does not have a sleeping bag, parents might simply choose not to allow their child to attend. TWC has provided sleeping bags for children who need them. If students do not have warm clothing, The Wildlands Conservancy has contributed warm jackets, knit caps, mittens and gloves, and even snow boots for the students to use while they are at Outdoor Science School.

LACOE is eager to work with The Wildlands Conservancy to establish permanent sites for the Los Angeles County Outdoor Science Schools. For 40 years, the implementation model has been to contract with sites typically used for summer camps. The availability of the site is limited to those weeks when the camps are not booked with other users.

The Wildlands Conservancy has purchased Grace Valley with the intent to make it available to the Los Angeles County Outdoor Science Schools on a year-round basis, and has offered to donate it to the Los Angeles County Education Foundation. Grace Vallye Ranch is located at 8,000 feet in the San Bernardino National Forest. At the heart of the camp is an isolated meadow surrounded by pine forest. Facilities include four large dormitories, a lodge with a dining hall, residential units for staff, offices and a swimming pool.

The establishment of a permanent, dedicated facility where students can attend Outdoor Science School will allow expansion of this educational program to more students. The missions of The Wildlands Conservancy and the Los Angeles County Office of Education intersect in this process in a way that will produce dramatic results for the education of students in Southern California. The committment and leadership of The Wildlands Conservancy combines with the long-standing history of excellence in outdoor science education enjoyed by the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Its staff heartily endorses the efforts of The Wildlands Conservancy to provide funding and facilities for outdoor science education in California.