National Park Service

The staff and volunteers of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area have each year: * Reached over 8000 kids with nature-based education programming. * Planted 5 acres of native habitat. * Grown 15,000 native plants. * Planted 10,000 native with kids. * Employed over 20 scientists to conduct scientific research on plants, animals, water quality, air quality and more. This research includes four active citizen science programs (What’s Invasive, California phenology project, crayfish removal).

  • Visit this organization’s website to volunteer

  • Learn about this organization’s budget, leadership and mission


1 Submitted Idea

  • 2013 Grants Challenge

    Pavement to Parks

    The Idea:

    By December 31st, 2013:

    • Transform 10 public paved places (corners of libraries, Boys and Girls Clubs, schools, etc.) to 10 native plant gardens.

    • Give 3 nature programs at each of the 10 new gardens, including citizen science programs like Lost Lizards of Los Angeles.

    • Employ 15 L.A. youth (5 college and 10 high school students) to develop gardens and lead programs. Youth will be mentored by National Park Service rangers.

    • Provide 20 field trips to national parks or other local open space areas for the local community.

    • Provide two overnight, transformative field trips to a national park for the 15 youth interns.

    How it impacts the indicator:

    • Adds up to 10 acres of green space and up to 5000 native plants to low-income, park poor communities in L.A.

    • Creates oxygen. Estimated amount of oxygen produced by plants in gardens = estimated number of leaves per plant (estimate 100) x .005 liters of oxygen per hour/per leaf x 8 hours of sunlight per day x 365 days per year x 25000 plants = 3.64 million liters of oxygen produced per year.

    • Increases biodiversity in the urban landscape. Species richness of 10 to 30 species per garden.

    • Interactive nature programs for 500 kids. At least one program will be science-based and will be a long-term environmental monitoring citizen science project.

    • Develops 20 young environmental leaders. Under mentorship of park rangers and scientists, 20 youth from the community will participate in a continuum of learning and leadership.

    • Addresses nature deficit disorder for 500 kids. Problems caused by nature deficit disorder include fear of and lack of respect for nature, more time with “safe” indoor activities like computer games, structured sports activities rather than imaginative play -- all potentially contributing to ADD, depression, child obesity, lower grades, etc.

    The Method:

    • Identify target neighborhoods lacking in green space, based on research by City Project and LA2050. Use one month to identify target projects using a three-pronged approach: 1) Use Google Earth imagery and other web resources to identify public areas used by kids that have pavement that could convert to garden space. Meet with these potential places to discuss gardens. 2) Put project request opportunities out to the community via newsletters and the internet asking for project ideas. 3) Meet with community leaders to solicit possible projects.

    • Select projects and have team of site owners (library, school staff, Boys and Girls Clubs) and NPS staff and student interns identify best location for a garden, select species, and layout garden plan (1-2 months).

    • Have NPS mentors and student interns meet with facility staff and kids to develop program ideas and begin program planning.

    • NPS will utilize plants grown in our native plant nursery. Other additions such as reading benches, low water using fountains, edible plants, bird boxes, owl boxes, bat boxes, etc. can be added as requested.

    • Install native gardens and initiate garden care with students (1 month).

    • Develop and deliver programs at gardens (3-5 months).

    • Deliver field trips for garden communities. Two field trips per garden for a total of 20 field trips. Field trips will be from L.A. to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

    • Take student interns on two longer, in-depth, leadership-building field trips, one backpacking trip in the Sierra and one kayaking trip at Channel Islands National Park.

    Ripples in the Pond:

    • The more educated you are, the more money you make. Nature programming and citizen science are exciting ways to engage kids in science and education in general and keep them motivated and wanting to learn.

    • Your chance of becoming a scientist is higher if you decide by age 10 that you might want to be a scientist. Increasing the diversity of scientists in L.A. and the world as a whole is an ancillary goal of our program.

    • If you want to be math literate as an adult (able to calculate a tip on a restaurant bill, able to see that you receive correct change, etc.) you need to have basic counting and number line skills in place by first grade! Observing, counting, and measuring nature is an excellent way to start and reinforce this learning.

    This is our vision for a green Los Angeles in 2050: green, growing, vibrant, and joyful. Won’t you join us?