WESPEN Online Order Form print this page
US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
  VENTURA FWO: Students Become Naturalists for a Day...and Maybe a Lifetime! 
Region 8, June 6, 2008
Chris Dellith, Ventura FWO, provides Rio Vista Elementary School students an introduction to their field day on the Santa Clara River. (Photo: Diane Noda) 
Chris Dellith, Ventura FWO, provides Rio Vista Elementary School students an introduction to their field day on the Santa Clara River. (Photo: Diane Noda)  - Photo Credit: n/a
Michael Glenn, Ventura FWO, and budding Rio Vista biologist. (Photo: Diane Noda)
Michael Glenn, Ventura FWO, and budding Rio Vista biologist. (Photo: Diane Noda) - Photo Credit: n/a
Rio Vista student shows off his catch. (Photo: Steve Henry)
Rio Vista student shows off his catch. (Photo: Steve Henry) - Photo Credit: n/a
"Oh, no, a non-native species!" (Photo: Steve Henry) - Photo Credit: n/a
A Rio Vista student takes care as he shows off a young western toad. ( Photo: Diane Noda)
A Rio Vista student takes care as he shows off a young western toad. ( Photo: Diane Noda) - Photo Credit: n/a

Diane Noda, Ventura FWO
An enthusiastic group of close to seventy 3rd and 4th graders from Rio Vista Elementary School in Canyon Country, California, descended from the bus that brought them to the Santa Clara River.  For most, it was going to be an experience they had never had before.  On this beautiful, warm June morning, excited chatter filled the air as the young students swarmed around staff from the Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office and Newhall Land representatives who were there to greet them. 

The partnership between the Ventura FWO and Newhall Land, a development company, expanded for this special day to include naturalists and aquatic biologists from Placerita Canyon Nature Center, United Water Conservation District, and ENTRIX, Inc.  All gathered on this gorgeous stretch of the river on Newhall property to provide a fun and meaningful outdoors experience for these students. 

Outfitted with Fish and Wildlife Service field notepads, a disposable camera, and a pair of binoculars and birding guide, the students were sent off in small groups with biologists in tow to explore the river ecosystem and to photograph and make note of the plants and animals that intrigued them.  They were treated to demonstrations of seining and dip netting for aquatic creatures and, with dip net in hand and supervision from afar, were able to give it a try.  They ooh’d and aah’d at display tanks and buckets containing fish, frogs and invertebrates pulled from the river earlier that morning, and learned about the detrimental effects of invasive non-native species, such as the African clawed frog, on native species. They tirelessly roamed up and downstream, through the river, on sand bars, and into the riparian vegetation and adjacent uplands.  The hours passed but their enthusiasm and curiosity never waned.  And from the grins on the faces of the teachers, parent volunteers, company representatives and biologists, it was evident that it was more than just the kids that were having a great time!  It was later touted by the students to be “the best field trip ever.”    

Linda Valdes, an educator and champion for the Rio Vista students, summed it up: “Wow!!!  What an amazing day!  I’m certain today’s experiences will last our students a lifetime.”

See the student follow-up reports and photographs at:  www.fws.gov/ventura

Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov