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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Big Bear Lake, California, USA

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Big Bear Lake, California, USA
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Registered: December 2011
City/Town/Province: Redlands
Posts: 1
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My name is Mina and I am one of the few lucky ones to grow up in a beautiful city with fresh air and mountains to explore. Big Bear Lake, California is a wonderful place to grow up. It is located in the San Bernardino National Forest. Growing up I found myself primarily outside whether it was climbing trees or playing basketball with the neighbors, everyone was outside enjoying life. As I grew older, I realized that when I worked with children they’d rather stay inside and watch television then enjoy the outdoors. Working with children for more than six years has allowed me to realize the importance nature has with their ability to learn. This experience gave me the opportunity to receive an AmeriCorps internship through the Big Bear Discovery Center.
When I received this internship I was still questioning my future. What major should I choose? What do I want to do for a career? I had a lot of interests but no clue how to incorporate them into one field. This internship allowed me to use my skills with art, children, education and being outdoors. As an AmeriCorps intern I was involved with several programs at the Discovery Center. For instance, nature walks, homemade rockets, arts and crafts, numerous restoration projects, fundraising with concerts, kayak/canoe tours, and Junior Forest Ranger just to list a few activities. With the crowds that come in, about 3,000 every week, we need as many hands as possible to help us educate the public on the value of nature in our world today. With all these programs going on I was easily able to use my talents at the Discovery Center and realize my future in the career of conservation.
The San Bernardino National Forest is within a four hour drive for more than twenty five million people. That’s ten percent of the nation’s population! Recently, the recreational use of the forest has increased drastically, while funding has decreased at a rapid rate. The SBNFA (San Bernardino National Forest Association) has over 1,000 active volunteers that help assist the guests that seek information about the forests. These volunteers assist the SBNFA in six different areas: Big Bear Discovery Center, Forest Care, Urban Conservation Corps of the Inland Empire, Off Highway Vehicles, Children’s Forest, and Fire Lookouts.
With the amount of people coming and going from the Discovery Center we try to educate the public on the history of Big Bear Valley as well as human’s impact on the land. We’ve been able to use the property for various activities; however, one part remains solely dirt and trees. My supervisor, Stacy, told me how she and a few others have tried for several years to turn that land into a children’s playground. As an intern I had the opportunity to choose one project to take on during the summer. I had the privileged to pick designing the children’s playground with my knowledge from my previous education classes as well as the outdoor environment for playground materials. However, unlike most playgrounds, we were not planning on buying plastic slides and swings. We wanted to incorporate different learning styles in outdoor natural surroundings to promote a family oriented learning environment.
With this knowledge I met up with an engineer, John, and a youth volunteer, Marangel, to map and plot out the land. We measured the width of the trees, their drip lines and classified the trees so we knew if guests would have head room to walk around. After about 50 hours of working on the measurements I took the plans to an architect to have them drawn out. However, instead of merely sending them to him, I sat with him, for about 10 hours, and learned the basics of how to use AutoCAD. Shortly after, I met up with an artist that worked at an elementary school. We discussed some possible nature games in order to fully use the available space. We walked through the land and looked at some possible games I had placed in the spaces. These included, but not limited to, log hopping, rope spider web, arts and crafts area, along with a nature path that leads to the amphitheater. She then took our combined ideas and painted a beautiful bird’s eye view of the playground. Our combined efforts of researching playground games, different learning styles and sketching the playground added up to about 140 hours.
The final plans I worked on were approved and will be my senior project to help construct. I am excited about this project because it is scheduled to break ground in 2012. This project will allow our guests to remember what it’s like to enjoy the outdoors and show them how they can when they return to their homes. Since the guests that participate in programs enjoy the SBNFA has to offer this will give the younger guests a chance to discover nature outdoors. The children’s nature playground will create an exciting learning experience where children will be motived to learn more about their environment when they return to their homes.
Working at the Big Bear Discovery Center has changed me in a positive way. It allowed me to open my eyes to the benefits of nature and get me outdoors the way I did as a child. Not many people get the opportunity to say that they look forward to working; although, I got the chance to do so. This project not only benefited me but will benefit the community as a whole and the guests that recreate our mountains.
Date: December 31, 2011 Views: 5916 File size: 22.6kb, 147.7kb : 720 x 540
Hours Volunteered: 200
Volunteers: 5
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 20 & 16 to 65
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