Docents give children an understanding of nature

High atop a hill in La Crescenta, filled with white sage, California sagebrush and wild cucumber, a plot of land serves not only to allow native plants to flourish, but also to educate local children about the nature that surrounds them.

Small groups of third-graders work with volunteer docents at the Rosemont Preserve to explore the native plant and animal life, work passed down from generation to generation.

“These are kids that have grown up in the community and are giving these other kids this opportunity,” said Erin Atwater, a member of the Friends of the Rosemont Preserve's committee.

Paul Rabinov, co-chairman of the committee, said that the docent-led tour is up to California science standards and students can receive credit for participating.

“What a great way to learn. Wouldn't it be better than learning at a desk?” said Rabinov.

“The objective is to make this fun, educational and rewarding to all, including the docents and students,” he added.

The committee and the Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy purchased the 7.75 acres of wilderness on the Rosemont Preserve in June 2012. The private property was acquired through fundraising at Mountain View Elementary and donation from Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich. These efforts raised $450,000 for the acquisition of the property and for operation and maintenance.

Along with stewarding the preserve, the Friends of the Rosemont Preserve have also teamed up with the La Crescenta Public Library and created a seed lending library that provides native plant seeds to the public, said Rabinov.

Volunteer docent Kelly Van Ginkel said, “My kids grew up in Monte Vista. I work at REI and I'm a nature girl. It's a great way to give back. I just think kids need to get in touch with nature — adults too.”

Rabinov said he hopes to expand the project beyond the third grade, keeping the preservation interest up as the children grow up.

“We do want to expand to all grades. Maybe even get some college students to serve as docents,” said Rabinov. “We really need docents.”


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