De Luz Ecology Center, De Luz

The De Luz Ecology Center is 128 mostly natural acres containing a one-room schoolhouse built in 1926 and an old-fashioned grass playground. It is used for educational field trips for Fallbrook elementary school students, and is open to the public on weekends. It is located 11 miles north of Fallbrook on De Luz Murrieta Road.

The area has 5 miles of hiking trails, an intermittent stream and picnic tables.

Fallbrook third-grade students come for two consecutive days, one class at a time, from September through December. Scott Gordon, lead teacher at the ecology center, tells what they experience:

They re-enact a day from 1906 in the one-room schoolhouse. They write on slate boards and read from the old McGuffey readers. We also make cornbread, butter and ice cream using the old-fashioned methods.
The third-graders also learn history about the local American Indians, the Luisenos, and hike to observe the plants and animals used by the Indians.

Fallbrook fifth-grade students spend four consecutive days at the center, focussing on environmental and other natural centers. They do more extensive hiking, study fire ecology, hunt for aquatic insects and dissect owl pellets.

As is usual with most things that are good, the Ecology Center funding is precarious. Why is it that in our society we allow money for such enriching experiences (the Ecology Center, nature centers, libraries, music, etc.) to always be at jeopardy, and eventually end up trading it for relatively small extra raises for public employee salaries? It seems that the only way to keep such things going is by dedicating funds that legally cannot be grabbed for other purposes.

How could we even think about losing something that excites children at the same time as they learn so much? Fallbrook third-grader Adrian Brambila went on his field trip last September, and when told he could come back in two years said "I'm excited! I can't wait."

When's the last time you heard that from a child about an educational experience?

Info from NCT, 2/8/98, B1, B6.

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Copyright © 1998 by Tom Chester.
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Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last update: 8 February 1998.