Ballona Education Program

Information provided by Frances Sparky Sotcher, ICO Leader & Ballona Wetlands Docent

Ballona Wetlands in Playa del Rey provides opportunities for outdoor education, ecological restoration, and community service. These two programs, offered by Audubon Society October through May, are free.

Outdoor Education Program:
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

The Outdoor Education Program can accommodate up to 60 youngsters, 3rd through 5th grade. Audubon docents conduct walks through the wetlands. They divide youngsters into docent-lead groups of 15 and give binoculars to each participant. Each group experiences a microscope station, a bird station with a telescope, a restoration station, and an ecology station. In addition, youngsters participate in a docent-led discussion of Native American life in the area.

Docents provide a pre-visit to schools to prepare youngsters for their experiences at the wetlands. This is usually scheduled two weeks prior to the tour.

After the docent tour groups may wish to go to a park nearby to use the bathrooms and eat lunch before returning to school. The picnic area is Del Rey Lagoon, at 6600 Esplande and Argonaut St. in Playa del Rey. There are toilets, play equipment, picnic tables, and a small lake.

Caution: Do not go to the nearby Playa Vista fresh water wetlands. This is located at Jefferson and Lincoln Blvd. and is operated by a different organization.

If you are interested in participating in the above outdoor education program, please contact:

Katy Okum
Phone: (310) 472-9854
E-mail: ronokum@verizon.net

Middle School Education Project
Mondays, Wednesday, or Fridays or Saturdays with appointment.

Friends of Ballona Wetlands, with support from Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and the University of Southern California Sea Grant Program, offers The Middle School Education Project. This program is designed to convey the value of our coastal wetlands using Ballona as an example. The Middle School Education Program offers curriculum activities based on California State Standards. It includes sections for in-class learning, on-site learning, and service learning activities. The curriculum aims to integrate concepts for Earth Sciences, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, History, Sociology, and Geography. The program addresses natural and cultural history, information about and functions of estuaries, connecting to our watershed, the importance of native habitats, and environmental stewardship and philosophy.

Class material will offer learning activities to introduce students to wetland-related concepts. Students can prepare for their visit to Ballona Wetlands through these various activities while meeting State Standard requirements. The program offers an optional service learning component to engage students in hands-on restoration of habitat at Ballona. Field trip group size varies from 8 to 60 students, while in-school presentation size is unlimited.

If you are interested in participating in the Middle School Education Project, please contact:
Friends of Ballona Wetlands
(310) 739-8613 / 306-5994

Location: Playa del Rey, at the west end of Culver Blvd. just three blocks from the beach. From the 405 Fwy., take the Culver Blvd. off ramp west to Playa del Rey. Three blocks from the beach, look for Del Mar, turn right one block to behind the small shopping center, turn right into the driveway, and park in the dirt parking lot. A docent will meet the bus and lead your group into Ballona Wetlands from this lot. (Note: The parking lot is behind Gordon’s Market, 303 Culver Blvd., Thomas Guide, pg. 702, A3.)


[Eagles Roost snow trip. Photo credit: Vicente Baldwin]

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