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Updated: Jun 12, 2020

The annual meeting was planned to be at Topanga State Park but because of recent fires a decision was made to move it to Woodley Park in the Sepulveda Basin. It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day that was perfect for an outdoor potluck lunchtime gathering of almost 20 people.

Instructors and educators at lunch.

The Havasi Wilderness Foundation has been donating funds for program grants to the Education Department for the past six years. It has grown over the years and meets the needs of elementary school students, disadvantaged students, and groups with special needs. Everyone participated in the potluck, so we had a variety of selections that were soooo delicious.

After lunch Stephen Vodantis, Education Program Supervisor, addressed and thanked the group of assembled educators for their dedication and service to the field of outdoor learning and environmental education. He introduced some of those in attendance and their special roles within the organization.

Stephen Vodantis with the instructors of our program at the Resource Conservation District of Santa Monica Mountains.

Then he invited anyone who wished to speak to relate special stories and anecdotes about field trip experiences with school groups during the year. We heard about a halibut-fishing story and how some students react with excitement when they hear the sound of the surf and waves crashing for the first time.

Stephen extended a special thank you to the RCD’s Biology Department, represented by Lizzy Montgomery, for supporting the education programs with technical knowledge, which enhances the outdoor learning experience for students in the field. Some instructors mentioned how rewarding outdoor education can be for student groups with special needs and the continued importance of working with these groups who benefit so much from the experience.

Discussions were held about some of the threatened species of wildlife and how important this educational work is for future generations. Stephen also extended a special thank you to site supervisors, Debbie Simpson, Linda Doebel, Wendy Barsh, Kelly Kazmirchuk, Liane Rosenberg and Claudia Hasenhuttl, who do so much on site to ensure the delivery of quality programming in the field.

Owl in the tree above us.

Alex Havasi was able to catch a resident of the area who was taking a nap but did open one eye when he began to hear camera clicks.

Towards the end of the meeting special surprises awaited five honorees who have been with the RCDSMM for ten years or more. Each received a Certificate of Recognition for their “personal commitment, dedication, performance, and outstanding service in the Field of Environmental Education.” As a further token of appreciation, each received a pair of compact binoculars for easy wildlife viewing while teaching students in the field.

Our congratulations to the following honorees:

Recipient Certification of Recognition

Carolyn Oppenheimer and Reg Fear who could not be present received their awards in absentia.

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