High desert nature study

The Antelope Valley has long needed a nature study center to serve as a focal point for the development of curriculum in environmental education, conservation and outdoor education. This center serves to train high school students in the presentation of natural history topics to elementary grades and civic organizations. The center has also produced curriculum materials, houses permanent biological collections and serves as the organization body for field trips, guest speakers and special programs. Justification for this project comes from a variety of sources that include references from the Antelope Valley Conservation and Environmental Education Council, California State Education Code, Los Angeles County Course of Study, Antelope Valley Union High School District Educational Master Plan and interviews with effected elementary and secondary teachers. Background literature for this project considered the role and history of outdoor education, nature study, environmental education, conservation education and museums. Further analysis was made of the effectiveness of peer teaching, volunteer aides and docent programs as cited from current literature. The project developed student museum-skills, field training program, student nature study presentations, museum collections, field trips, loan services, wildlife monographs, and a miniature museum. An evaluation of the project’s effectiveness as indicated by the development of nine topics, presented ninety-two times to a total audience of 4,090, was diagnosed favorably by the written critiques of the observing elementary teachers. Additionally, nineteen collections were prepared, loan specimen made available to schools, slide programs produced and the incorporation of various new museum preparation techniques included in the project. The future of the project, although threatened by loss of revenue and administrative support, is expanding outside the realm of the high school district with the proposed inclusion in the development of a interpretative nature center for the City of Palmdale