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play Winner / 2016

LA Audubon - Urban Nature Explored

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Los Angeles Audubon Society

LA Audubon Urban Nature Explored connects people of all ages to nature activities, provides field trips and after-school programs for LAUSD students, and student internships for under-served youth.

Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

Ballona Creek Renaissance, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park, Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, Ballona Wetlands, Esperanza Elementary School, Politi Elementary School

Please describe your project proposal.

LA Audubon Urban Nature Explored connects people of all ages to outdoor experiences at parks, beaches and open spaces. We provide thousands of public school students from under-served communities with nature-based field trips and after-school programs. High school and college students receive stewardship training as part of paid internship programs, leading habitat restoration events that engage their communities and improve the quality of open space for people and wildlife.

Which of the play metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Access to open space and park facilities
  • Number (and quality) of informal spaces for play
  • Number of children enrolled in afterschool programs
  • Number of parks with intergenerational play opportunities
  • Number of residents with easy access to a “vibrant” park

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • City of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to play?

Urban Nature Explored will help make LA the best place to play through educational nature walks, park and schoolyard restorations, school field trips, and after-school programs at parks, beaches and open spaces. Locations include:

Ballona Wetlands (1) “First Saturdays” a monthly event, welcomes people of all ages to explore one of the last remaining coastal wetlands. (2) Weekly school field trips bring thousands of students and their teachers to view the wetlands up-close through microscopes and binoculars, witnessing birds and wildlife that call the wetlands home.

Ballona Creek Watershed All ages will participate in 2 Creek Restoration Days in partnership with Ballona Creek Renaissance (BCR), a non-profit organization dedicated to the long-term renewal of Ballona Creek and its watershed. The creek runs adjacent to the Ballona Creek Bikeway, where recent improvements include native landscaping, artist-designed gates and murals initiated by public and non-profit agencies, including BCR. This continuing process is creating a pleasant recreational facility for riders, walkers, joggers and families.

Silicon Beach We will develop a new nature awareness program for the Playa Vista/Silicon Beach business zone. Employees will be guided on a lunch break exploration of the nature and wildlife found beyond the boundaries of their desk! Employees will also be invited to 2 shorebird habitat clean-up days at the beach.

Kenneth Hahn State Rec. Area Thousands of elementary and middle school students will hike the park during weekly school field trips led by docents and college interns who provide lessons in geology, plant life, and local wildlife found in the park.

Dockweiler & Venice Beach Led by LAAS biologists and docents, hundreds of students and the public will experience the beach in a whole new way during nature walks that explore sandy beach ecology and conservation.

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook Serving 40-50 high school students a year, our paid after-school and weekend internship program at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park incorporates environmental science research, community leadership, hands-on habitat restoration, and art to address local environmental issues. Students lead hundreds of community volunteers in parkland restoration work and help to maintain the schoolyard habitats and mentor younger students. Upon graduation, students become part of an alumni network eligible for future paid environmental work opportunities.

Schoolyard Habitat Students will assist community volunteers to implement a new schoolyard habitat at Esperanza Elementary. The goal is to turn a once degraded area into a thriving outdoor nature lab with habitat for pollinators, birds, lizards, and more. Habitat plans have been approved by LAUSD officials, and LAAS has secured separate grant funding for design work and curricula development. The Esperanza Habitat will serve 800+ students and is modeled on our successful Habitat at Politi Elementary.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

We will define our success by the number of people we connect to nature in LA.

We will measure our success based on: Number of high school students engaged in after-school program Number of students participating in field trips Feedback from students and teachers surveyed re: their nature experience Number of college interns assisting with program management Number of people who attend our public nature programs Number of employees who participate in Silicon Beach nature awareness program Number of people participating in restoration at beach, creek, park and schoolyard events Number of acres of restored parklands and beaches (amount of trash and weeds removed and the number of native plants planted.)

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Staff
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support