Students Helping Restore Unique Biomes (SHRUB) Program at Headwaters Corner
Recognizing a need to get children into nature while providing environmental and scientific literacy, the Students Helping Restore Unique Biomes (SHRUB) program came into being. SHRUB gets nature-deprived children outdoors and turns them into environmental stewards through restoration of the natural landscape. First made possible by a grant from the Boeing Company, the first classes participated in the SHRUB program at Headwaters Corner beginning in September 2009.
||Children, the future stewards of the earth, are consumed with the world of electronic media, becoming disconnected with the natural world. “Nature Deficit Disorder,” a term coined by Richard Louv, "describes the human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.” The problem of the nature-deprived child is so systemic that it has even been recognized by congress as members seek to pass the “No Child Left Inside” Act. Congress believes that most children are now “nature-deprived,” even those that live near parks or wilderness. If children who live near parks and wilderness are nature deprived, children from dense urban, park-poor areas are even less likely to spend time in nature. For this reason, SHRUB seeks to serve nature-deprived children from underserved, inner-city public schools in Los Angeles County in the 4th through 7th grades.
As a leader in restoration of natural resources, Mountains Restoration Trust (MRT) is uniquely qualified to offer the SHRUB program in the Santa Monica Mountains. MRT brings 28 years of experience to SHRUB. MRT will continue to partner with the National Park Service which originated the program in 2006. MRT now partners with the City of Calabasas which continues to provide parkland to the program. MRT is actively seeking additional partners to improve the program.
The SHRUB program has two-student teams adopt a plot of land in a designated area they care for through the seven months of the program. In their plot they plant either seeds and/or small native plants and remove any non-native plants that may grow. They learn to observe natural elements as they track the progress of the plants they nourish including wind direction, air temperatures, cloud cover, and soil moisture. Students participate in hands-on sessions on geology, flora and fauna, insects, soils, plant adaptation, impacts of invasive species on native plants, animals, the water cycle, and the scientific method. All the science presented aligns with state standards and curriculum. Last, students are expected to give back to the community with their planting efforts. They are expected to mentor the class below them and explain to parents, teachers and peers what they are doing and why they are doing it. Students gain confidence in public speaking when they share what they have learned with younger students and parents. These hands-on activities require 1 Naturalist per 10 children. An interpretive hike is conducted during each session. The program occurs in seven lessons, once per month.
SHRUB provides an opportunity for students to give back to their community through service and allows students to learn about science in a real world setting. It also allows students to improve their public speaking skills and introduce students to new experiences and career opportunities in the new “green” economy.