Eagle Scout Candidate Savanna Meyer Has Plans
By Conservation Science Manager Mitchell Coleman
In continuation of the burgeoning partnership between the Conservancy and Scouts BSA, we are pleased to announce an in-progress Eagle Scout project. Savanna Meyer from Troop 2119 is the Eagle-to-Be. Savanna will be one of Kern County’s first female Eagle Scouts since the Scouts BSA started including females last year. She is the first Eagle candidate in her troop. The goal of her Eagle project is to construct a primitive campground and interpretive hiking trail on the Conservancy’s Panofsky-Wilson Preserve, just north of Tejon Ranch.
Earlier this month, we (virtually) sat down with Savanna to learn more about her background and what she hopes to learn from the project:
Q: How old are you?
A: I am 18 years old.
Q: What appealed to you about Scouting?
A: I have been in Scouting since I was 5, most of that time having been in the Girl Scouts. Around the time I received my Girl Scout Gold Award, the Boy Scouts was just starting to accept female members. I joined the Scouts BSA out of interest, but never intended to go for an Eagle since I was already close to turning 18. However, when it was announced that incoming Scouts would be granted an extension for Eagle projects, I started planning right away. My family and Troop are very supportive of my goal and I am in this 100%.
Right: The Project will include an Interpretive Trail looping through the Preserve.
This project will teach me a lot about the logistics and tact of leadership
Q: Are you the first female Eagle candidate in your region?
A: I am definitely the first in my troop, and one of the first in Kern County, but am not sure beyond that.
Q: How does it feel to get so much help from your family and from other scouts?
A: I would say that it is overwhelming—in a good way. Everyone is so supportive and wants to help. Members of Troop 2119 and our partner Troop 47 are like a small family. Everyone pitches in for each other’s projects, and the commitments are always leveled out so that no one goes without any help. It is lovely that my problem is not a lack of support, but how to ideally leverage that surplus of support to complete the project. The key is finding a way to make it all work with everyone’s schedules.
Q: Is this the most difficult thing you have ever undertaken?
A: Project wise, this is a pretty big deal for me. I would say yes, it is the most difficult. There have been many projects I have participated in with an advisory or supportive role, but I have never been the main project manager. Nothing I have ever done has ever required this much planning and coordination. It is hard to step into the management role!
Right: Site of primitive campground.
Q: In what ways will completing this project change your life?
A: This project will teach me a lot about the logistics and tact of leadership: how to get everyone on the same page, how to effectively communicate with others, and how to ensure the right resources are in place ahead of time. It will give me something to look back on and be proud of. I have learned a lot through the Scouting program, I always tell people about how much I have learned. I only started with Scouts BSA in the last two years and I already feel like I’m a different person.
Q: What careers or fields interest you? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: I am really interested in studying psychology. For a long time, my goal was to join the FBI in the Behavioral Analysis Unit, but lately I’ve switched to thinking about teaching English in places like Japan or Southeast Asia. That would be really cool.
We at the Conservancy are really looking forward to seeing the results of Savanna’s Eagle project!
Right: Caliente Creek passes through the Preserve.
Environmental Education via Remote Learning
By Education Coordinator Paula Harvey
The 2020/2021 school year opened with remote learning for everyone. Many school districts have now invited students back to school on a part-time basis. For those who have returned, their classrooms look very different from one year ago.
Remote learning is a poor alternative, albeit for many, the only alternative.
I’ve experienced first-hand how truly difficult it is to teach remotely through Zoom. Imagine spending the entire day in a meeting, but you’re not in a conference room with your colleagues. You’re sitting in front of a computer or tablet screen for five to six hours. Paying attention and staying engaged are absolutely impossible.
Add in the fact that we’re talking about children, easily distracted, who need human contact, guidance, and reinforcement. How does a teacher look over the (virtual) shoulder of a student learning to read? And what does the teacher do when their student is wearing a silly hat, making faces, wearing pajamas, yawning, lounging on the bed, playing with the cat, with noise and distractions of family members in the background? Classroom management is the most challenging skill a teacher must master, but what does that look like virtually? A teacher can be effective, and a student can learn, but navigating the many challenges is huge and the results are sometimes frustrating and disappointing.
Not only are classrooms empty, but there are no field trips either. What does Tejon Ranch Conservancy do to be relevant during a time of remote learning? How do we provide environmental science education to teachers and their students?
We have developed a remote learning curriculum available to all teachers, accessible on our Remote Learning Page on our website at https://tejonconservancy.org/remotelearning. Additionally, I am available to teachers to consult and assist in developing or customizing their own environmental education program, and I’m available to teach lessons live, via Zoom. Lessons are appropriate for students in grades 5 through 12. I am available to work with college faculty to create a science notebook-based program as well.
John Muir Laws and Emilie Lygren recently published a spectacular book called “How to Teach Nature Journaling." The materials are Open Source and can be used and adapted by anyone. The book is available here: https://johnmuirlaws.com/product/how-to-teach-nature-journaling/
The activities in the book are tied to the Crosscutting Concepts of the Next Generation Science Standards, intended to be used by teachers in the field. We have adapted these lessons for remote learning, and have extended many of the lessons to explore the standards more deeply and to include some of our own.
Each lesson is presented as a PowerPoint presentation and recorded on Zoom. After some instruction, students go outdoors to do the activity. They return to the lesson when they have completed their journal activity. We dive deeply into each of the NGSS Crosscutting Standards that are taught in science classes all over the country. Additionally, I have developed a rigorous writing component to the lessons that encourages structured, effective science writing. The PowerPoint presentations are available for download and teachers can edit/adapt them to fit their programs.