Families in Nature Program celebrates fifth year

As the Catalina Island Conservancy’s Families in Nature Program enters its fifth year, Avalon residents who would not normally head out into the interior had a chance to do so on Saturday, January 19th.

Along for the ride were 71 Avalon residents—husbands, wives, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews—many of whom have lived on the Island for most of their lives and have rarely ventured out of Avalon.

As the Catalina Island Conservancy’s Families in Nature Program enters its fifth year, Avalon residents who would not normally head out into the interior had a chance to do so on Saturday, January 19th.

Along for the ride were 71 Avalon residents—husbands, wives, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews—many of whom have lived on the Island for most of their lives and have rarely ventured out of Avalon.

Filling five vans and buses to capacity, the residents enjoyed a fun day of play, discovery and relaxation at Boskey Dell, the legendary picnic spot near El Ranch Escondido where the Wrigley-owned Chicago Cubs held many a celebration.

“We saw foxes that day, it was very exciting,” said Alexa Johnson of the Conservancy’s education department.

“We also saw a bison along the side of the road. The kids always flip out,” Johnson said.

All the kids and some adults jockeyed to get a pair of binoculars to spy on birds high up in the trees and even at people three feet in front of them.

“Binoculars are always a big hit,” said Rich (Mr. Z) Zanelli. “Everyone really likes using the tools of science.”

During the course of the day, the kids and adults learned how to identify poison oak, which grows freely in the interior.

“We also taught them about the leaves of the lemonade berry. If you fold them in half, and place them between your cheek and your teeth, they will keep you from getting thirsty,” Zanelli said.

“We also talked about the acorn woodpecker and their graneries, where they store acorns for winter,” Johnson said.

“Boskey Dell is a great place to view nature close up,” Johnson said.

The group broke for lunch, which was more like a feast. “We had fathers who are cooks in town who made a great lunch,” Zanelli said.

On the menu were hot dogs, carne asada, pork ribs and grilled tortilla dishes, and “a pile of homemade sauces, guacamoles and dips,” said Johnson. Also on hand were the Americorps volunteers, who work on the Island for 13 weeks.

“After lunch, they introduced the kids to zombie tag,” Johnson said. “If you are tagged by a zombie, you become a zombie, too.”

The next Families in Nature outing will be a bit different from the usual Saturday morning outing.

It will be held on Thursday, Feb. 21, and will be an evening gathering at the Laura Stein Volunteer Camp with nighttime activities such as stargazing and listening for the sounds of animals and insects.

On Saturday, March 16, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Families in Nature will head out to Little Harbor for a day of beach play, nature hikes and flying kites.

In April, Families in Nature will be combined with Avalon’s Spring Fest and Earth Day. The day and time will be announced later.

More information about Families in Nature may be obtained by calling the Conservancy’s Education Office at (310) 510-0954.

The Catalina Island Conservancy

The Catalina Island Conservancy was formed in 1972 and is the largest private land trust and one of the oldest in California.

Its mission is to be a responsible steward of its lands through a balance of conservation, education and recreation.

Through its ongoing efforts, the Conservancy protects the magnificent natural and cultural heritage of Santa Catalina Island, stewarding approximately 42,000 acres of land, 50 miles of rugged shoreline, an airport, more than 80 miles of trails, and more than 200 miles of roads.

Twenty miles from the mainland, the Island is a treasure trove of historical and archeological sites, and numerous rare and endangered animals and plants.

Fifty endemic species and counting reside on the Island including plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.

For additional information, visit www.catalinaconservancy.org.

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