Cadets from Sunburst Youth Challenge Academy in Los Alamitos, Calif., a leadership academy for teens, recently had the opportunity to learn more about Catalina Island. This year, Catalina Island Conservancy visited the cadets to lead them through Naturalist I Training. Community Learning Manager Hillary Holt taught Wolfpack, Chargers, and Panthers platoons about the cultural and natural history of the Island.
“The cadets asked great questions, were engaged, and now have a better understanding of the Island,” said Jeannie Anderson, president of California Challenge Foundation, which helps support this activity.
As part of the training, Cadets watched two short videos that take learners on a journey through the Island while educating them about Catalina’s geology, Island species, human history, and the work of the Conservancy. To complete the training, Holt expanded on key topics, displayed artifacts, and answered student questions.
“The Cadets were some of the best, most interested students I have ever taught,” said Holt. “They were really intrigued by the artifacts, and many spent a long time studying them, particularly the Abalone shell and fox skulls.”
In April, Cadets will travel to BSA‘s Catalina Island Camp Emerald Bay to assist with seasonal maintenance as part of their curriculum. Though Sunburst Youth Challenge Academy has visited the Island for several years, this is the first time that the Conservancy has provided training prior to their trip. For some of the students, this opportunity marks their first time on the Island or on a boat.
“When I mentioned the raging ocean during a recent storm, by their expressions I was reminded that many of them have not experienced the ocean very much in their lives, despite living so close,” said Holt. “These lessons and a trip to Catalina Island will have life changing capacity for some of these at-risk youths.”
“I hope that through participation in the Naturalist program and Island visit, the Cadets take away a deep sense of curiosity and connection with the natural world,” she added.
Naturalist I Training is available free online at catalinaconservancy.org. Become a Catalina caretaker by strengthening your knowledge of the natural history of the Island.