Thousands of Los Angeles middle-school students will troop through the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which extends through eastern Ventura County, to study natural resources this year, thanks to a $142,500 grant to regional parks administrators.
One of nine grants recently awarded by the National Park Foundation, the funds will support a "laboratory in the parks" program for sixth- and seventh-graders in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The inner-city children will visit several sites in the Santa Monica Mountains over the school year to study "the role national parks play in preserving our air, water and soil," said Constantine Dillon, chief of interpretation for the recreation area.
"We want to help make science relevant to the land," Dillon said. "We're pretty excited about this."
The grant will complement another Santa Monica Mountains educational program, entitled "The Chumash Indians: Changing People, Changing Lands." Based in the Rancho Sierra Vista site near Newbury Park, the program brings third- and fourth-graders to national parks to explore American Indian culture and study biological diversity.
"Matching one of our nation's richest natural resources with another of our nation's treasured resources, our children, is creating an outstanding program," said David E. Gackenbach, the park service's regional superintendent. "This grant reinforces our capability to reach more students."