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CONEJO OPEN SPACE FOUNDATION: to promote and maintain the multi-use trail and open space systems of the Conejo Valley

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COSCA Volunteer Corps: Trails Education Days

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  2013 TED Volunteer Opportunities
  Slideshow: Trails Education Days

A significant goal for the Conejo Open Space Foundation is education. To that end, the Foundation supports the Conejo Open Space Trails Advisory Committee (COSTAC) in coordinating an annual environmental education program for Conejo Valley fifth graders. Over 33,000 students have taken part in Trails Education Days since its inception in 1992.

The 21st annual Trails Education Days event took place from April 9 to April 12, 2012, with a rain make-up day on May 11. 1,373 fifth grade students from 16 CVUSD Elementary Schools attended. To prepare for their day in Wildwood Park, students watched a video at their schools. The video included information segments about trail safety, local Native American traditions, the "food chain," mountain lions and bobcats, and how natural open space is acquired for public ownership. Presenters were COSCA Chair Rorie Skei, CRPD Parks Superintendent and former COSCA Ranger Matt Kouba, COSCA Rangers Greg Jones and Bruce Pace, and Naturalist Oscar Ortiz.

More than 50 individuals volunteered to lead the students on nature hikes this year, and several volunteered to lead two hikes per day every day for a total of 10 hikes each.

At Wildwood Park, following their one-hour nature hikes, the students attended three workshops:

  • COSCA rangers hosted �Careers in Open Space,� with guests from the National Park Service, Mountains Recreation Conservation Area, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Each ranger brought his or her own approach to the workshops, focusing on trail building and repair, search and rescue, interpretive programs, and so on. One theme ran through all the presentations: every ranger talked about his or her love of working in open space.

  • "Trail Safety & Courtesy," led by Mark Langton, stressed appropriate ways to enjoy Multiple Use trails and open space, with help from bicyclists, equestrians and hikers who brought their dogs. A short skit by the workshop participants included "things you should NEVER do in the open space." As always, the students were quick to find these violations and productive discussions followed.

  • "Indigenous Animals" were presented by Animal Actors of Hollywood, who brought a raven, red tail hawk, turkey vulture, porcupine, opossum, and squirrel.

The fifth graders are invited to enter a writing contest to describe some of the things they learned during their Trails Education Days experience. Five grand prize winners and two winners from each school are chosen to receive cash awards as well as recognition by the Thousand Oaks City Council and the CRPD Board of Directors. The grand prize winners for 2012 are listed below.

Grand Prize Winners of the 2012 Trails Education Days Writing Contest:
Olivia Simon of Glenwood Elementary School
Caelyn Pender of Lang Ranch Elementary School
Hanna Chernavsky of Madro�a Elementary School
Gabrielle Nardecchia of Westlake Hills Elementary School
Rocco Basile of Lang Ranch Elementary School
(Click on a name above to view his/her winning letter.)


As always, we need volunteers
to lead hikers through Wildwood Canyon,
to work with the "Safety and Courtesy" workshops, and
to help with logistics and organization throughout the week.

If you are available and would like to help this year, please contact
one of the Trails Education Days coordinators listed below.

Thank you! We look forward to working with you.

John Holroyd     (805) 495-6391

Julie Osborn     (805) 492-6000

Rob Remedi     (805) 499-2924

Volunteers can choose to help with the activities on any or all of the days the Trails Education Days week. Without the volunteers who give so much to this program, Trails Education Days could not take place. We are especially pleased that so many volunteers come back year after year, ready to give a new crop of Fifth Graders a valuable experience in the Conejo open space. Here are volunteer job descriptions:

HIKE LEADERS - Hike leaders take groups of 12 to 15 fifth graders on 1-hour, 1-mile hikes from the Wildflower Playing Fields to the Nature Center via the Wildwood Canyon Trail. One teacher or parent volunteer accompanies each group to keep the students focused on their hike leader; the leader talks to the group about indigenous plant and animal life. At intervals along the way, plants are tagged with multiple choice questions. Vast knowledge about local plants and animals is not a requirement. Volunteers range from experienced naturalists, botanists, and wildlife biologists to people who value natural open space and wish to contribute to our program. Volunteers who have not participated in this program previously are asked to attend a training session the week before Trails Education Days. These training sessions are conducted by professional naturalists and include a rehearsal hike to the Nature Center on Wildwood Canyon Trail. With approximately 1,500 students attending over a 5 day period, we need as many as 15 people per day to lead 2 hikes each.

GENERAL COORDINATORS - Several people are needed each day to help keep the program running smoothly and on schedule. These volunteers unload the school groups from their buses, assign the groups to their hike leaders, usher the groups from one workshop to the next, pass out water bottles as the students leave the canyon, lead groups on the 20 minute hike back to their buses, set up the Nature Center for the volunteers' lunches, and do whatever else comes up. Interested people might choose to volunteer for one morning, a day or two, or for the entire week.

TRAIL SAFETY & COURTESY WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS - One workshop involves a hiker, bicyclist, equestrian, and dog walker. These trail users act out a scenario for the students that illustrates right and wrong ways to behave in the open space. Volunteers typically participate in 5 or 6 half-hour workshops each day, over a total of 4 hours, and volunteer for one or more days of the program.

All volunteers are treated to snacks and lunch, courtesy of COSCA and Whole Foods Markets. A benefit to volunteers is that they meet many other people who share their interests and commitment to open space.

See the current Volunteer Manual for a more detailed description of the volunteer programs. Trails Education Days is described starting on page 12.

If you would like to help, please fill out a Volunteer Application, or contact Elayne Haggan at 805-492-6310.

The Conejo Open Space Foundation extends a sincere THANK YOU to our 2012 Trails Education Days sponsors, supporters, staff & volunteers:

City of Thousand Oaks Community Events Endowment Fund
Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency
Conejo Recreation and Park District
Conejo Valley Unified School District
Animal Actors of Hollywood
California Department of Parks and Recreation
Conejo Group Sierra Club
Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority

   Julie Adickes
Melanie Ashen
Susan Baukus
Steve Bacharach
Lance Biscoe
Gordon Bowers
Brew Brewster
Ann Bulloch
Heather Burton
Barbara Butler
Marilyn Carpenter
Suzanne Clark
Ellen Covella
Ernie Cox
Jan Delaney
Mike Delaney
Betty Eiseman
Burt Elliott
Jane Fawke
Mary Freed
    Carolyn Greene
Virginia Grue
Elayne Haggan
Ed Hansen
Megan Hansen
Fontayne Holmes
John Holroyd
Bernie Honey
Stan Joslin
Shirley Kafka
Nancy Klein
Richard Koppel
John Koss
Mark Langton
Ellen Leigh
Carlos Luna
Gerry Lynham
Liz MacGovern
Linda Malone
Maryjane Mcleod
    Ron Manwill
Alissa Marangola
Randy Nelson
John Noble
Fred Nuesca
Frances O'Sullivan
Julia Osborn
Bruce Pace
April Parise
Cathy Philipp
Rob Remedi
Marlene Rosselli
Leslie Saeta
Stephanie Scher
Pricilla Schroeder
Pete Scifres
Lylene Sheets
Norm Simmonds
Stasia Simrall
    Doak Smith
Kevin Smith
Paul Smith
Sydney Smith
Bob Stellwagon
Niki Stokols
JoAnne Sulkoske
Kari Tam
Frank Thomsen
Nicole Tindell
Terry Trefz
Annette Trisler
Ann Tucker
Hugh Warren
Walter Zabriskie
Sam Weiner
Barbara West
George Winkler
Gusie Woodfil