Carmel Magazine

Winter 2017

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Page 197 of 243

196 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 7 RON is under the umbrella of California State University Monterey Bay. Students from kindergarten age through college level can take part in the program, which offers events like native dune habi- tat planting, win- ter bird count- ing and park trash cleanup. Laura Lee Lienk, RON director and co-director of the Watershed Institute at CSUMB, has been active in RON since several Salinas teachers teamed up to form the organization in the mid 1990s. She has seen par- ticipating students stay engaged as community volunteers, while others have graduated and gone on to work as science educators, park rangers and environmental advocates. "When you see a young man like Angel pursuing an environmental degree, or you talk with a classroom teacher about the impact these pro- grams have on students, or you watch parents taking their youngsters on a nature hike, that means we've been successful," she says. "Our goals have stayed the same over the past 25 years. We create hands-on opportuni- ties that bring people closer to nature, and nature closer to people." RON's founding teachers first set out to beautify schoolyards and strength- en students' connections to the environment, while providing safe and easy access to outdoor education. Supported by colleagues at Moss Landing Marine Labs, Elkhorn Slough, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and elsewhere, they planned gardens and started growing plants in their class- rooms. Those first plants helped establish Natividad Creek Park in Salinas.

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