Stand Up Paddleboard Nature Tour
1. A water lover who wants to enjoy all types of watersports?
2. A scuba diver who can glide through the water, but want to also glide on top of the water?
3. A nature enthusiast who wants to explore more than what you can see from land?
4. All of the above?
Come enjoy the feeling of walking on water while learning about the nature around us! You'll get a total body work out but also a relaxing time gliding over the water.
Medicinal and Poisonous Plants
People often ask, "If we had to survive in these mountains, what could we eat to survive?" However, the first question should be, "Which plants are poisonous or toxic and should be avoided?" There are a few toxic or potentially lethal plants in our local area, and you could easily learn to identify and avoid them. You'll learn which parts of the plants are "poisonous", and what sorts of symptoms you would get if you were to ingest them (or touch them). Once you know what can kill you, then you can slowly build up your knowledge for the rest of the plants, since there's much more that are helpful than are toxic. We'll explore some medicinal plants and learn how you can safely treat wounds, bruises, sprains, etc. so that you'll be well prepared when the zombie apocalypse starts.
Forest Bathing: Getting in Touch with Nature
Why does it always feel so good when you take a deep breath of fresh mountain air? Or when you wiggle your toes on a dewy lawn? What is it about nature that makes you feel so refreshed? Come out and discover the physiological and psychological reasons for these questions! We'll immerse ourselves in some fresh mountain air, and learn what's actually in it that makes our bodies feel so great. We'll also take maximum advantage of our retreat and let our minds and imaginations free as we sit, doodle, journal, and create while being nature powered.
Seasonal Edible Blooms, Greens, and Plant Tastings
They say, "April showers bring May flowers." But in Southern California, winter storms bring early spring greens (many of which are edible!) and fragrant (edible) flowers bloom early summer. Delicious berries become abundant during summer. Autumn and winter provide staple nuts and seeds. There's a flavor for every season! On top of that, many invasive "weeds" are delicious, highly nutritious, and plentiful to add to our meals. Join us to discover local edible plants, learn how to grow or harvest plants sustainably, and learn about the art of eating seasonally!
Observing Nature's Patterns
What do nautilus shells, kelp fronds, ocean waves, rose petals, and the milky way galaxy have in common? They all have patterns and proportions that make them innately beautiful. And these patterns are all built by the same mathematical rule of nature: the golden ratio. This elegant pattern spirals our DNA along with those of all other natural things. Let's explore nature's patterns together and create cyanotype prints (sun-exposed blue prints) to showcase our findings.
Learning via Smell: Aromatic Plants
Our sense of smell impacts us all the time whether we realize it or not. Unlike other senses such as vision and taste which our brains have to consciously process, smell can subconsciously alter our mood and behaviors before we consciously decide how we should respond. For example, if you look at a hummingbird, your brain identifies it and then you decide how you feel about them. If you eat a new dish at a restaurant, you taste it first and then decide if you like it or not. However, if you walk into a room with an unpleasant odor, you immediately know you don't like the smell and might react, even before you identify what the smell is -- is it poop? is it rotting food? is it your friend's smelly dog? When we go into nature surrounded by various plant aromas, you'll experience changes in mood, behavior, and changes to our physical health, all subconsiously. We'll talk about the effects certain scented plants have on our health, learn why it's healthy to use aromatic spices in cooking, and discover how we can ease colds and flus using fragrant plant allies.
Exploring Coniferous Forests of the Backcountry
If you only explore the local trails in the frontside of the San Gabriel Mountains, you may never know that there's literally forests on the backside of these mountain ranges. The south-facing slopes on the front are often dry and shrubby, with oak groves and streamside woodlands, but if you venture to the north-facing slopes at high elevations you'll find yourself surrounded by mixed evergreen forest. This coniferous wonderland, the Angeles National Forest, was established in 1907 and became the very first National Forest in California (second in the US)! Come discover the giant evergreens, native shrubs, and unique wildflowers. Learn about some of their edible and medicinal properties. Marvel at the sceneries overlooking the entire mountain range. If you're lucky, you might even spot a bighorn sheep!
Ecology for the Wilderness Explorer
Did you know that our San Gabriel Mountains are part of the California Floristic Province, which is one of 35 biodiversity hotspots of the world? Within this world-recognized region, we have over 2000 plant species and 17 threatened animal species that exist nowhere else in the world (endemic). The landscape of our local mountains is characterized by chaparral and oak woodland, which is an ecosystem that is essentially unique to California. Our climate and geology contribute to the formation of these habitats, which allow certain plants and animals to thrive. Understanding the ecology and what makes our region distinct from other parts of the world is essential to becoming a successful wilderness explorer of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Eco SEAL Program
This program for youth and adults aims to provide hands-on education in the sciences, while also teaching wilderness life skills. The scientific themes will range from biology, ecology, biogeography, conservation, and environmental science. Students will have practical experiences to learn to engage in the outdoor lifestyle safely. The educational themes and practical skills will be taught in the classroom, mountains, and ocean. The program consists of one classroom seminar and four field trips. Each session, the students will learn lifelong skills to explore and enjoy nature in a safe and exciting way.
Our goal is to have fun outside safely, while teaching you about science & nature, and encourage you to become respectful stewards of Mother Earth. We all fall victim to device addiction, where social media and screen time have been replacing practical outdoor learning experiences. This lack of outdoor exposure has been dubbed “nature deficit disorder” (a term coined by author Richard Louv) and has been linked to issues such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, and obesity. Research has shown that spending time outdoors provides benefits such as improving mood and self-esteem, stimulating creativity and imagination, improving attention, memory, and reasoning skills, and developing social skills and emotional awareness. We believe that physical interaction and connection with nature, rather than through a phone or TV screen, is essential for our well-being.