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Fourth and fifth grade students at Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary School design and create the Chaminade Trail Guide to develop a deeper relationship with nature, their community, and each other.

Over 140 species of flora and fauna have been identified in a new trail guide published by fourth and fifth grade students at Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary School. In a new community partnership with the Chaminade Resort, students spent over 60 hours on the trails located behind their school to nature journal and gather field data to begin their environmental literacy project. The result is a new series of free trail guides housed in wooden brochure boxes built and installed by students on the Chaminade trail system.

In 2022, the school launched the SAGE Program, a science and garden program to increase students’ inquiry-based learning, understanding of natural systems, environmental stewardship, and deepen their environmental identity. Students were tasked with developing a stronger connection with nature while deepening their own environmental literacy through real world problem solving.

Students took the lead in dreaming up the trail guide project. They worked in teams to create a plan including researching and mapping out different zones on the trail. They spent time on the trail nature journaling, identifying species, participating in fungus forays, birding, hiking and enjoying mindful moments outside. Fourth grader, Gustavo said “I had no idea how many species exist on this trail. I love going hiking because of this project.”

They designed and budgeted the materials needed to build and install the brochure boxes. The guides housed in each box include scientific illustrations, articles on species, poems, short stories, meditation practices, and nature activities created by the students. They got feedback on the trail guide content from local experts including the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, the Bird School Project, and local mycologist Paul Miller.  Our hope is that our community will spend more time outside connecting with the native plants and animals that we share this land with.” - Fifth grade student, Evie.

We invite the community to join us for the opening celebration of the Chaminade Trail Guide Project Wednesday May 15th at 9-10am on the Chaminade Trail near Santa Cruz Gardens County Park, 113 Katherine Ln, Santa Cruz, CA 95065.


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