Desert Discovery Field Studies (2020-2021, 2019-2020)
The Outreach and Education Department of Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is dedicated to advancing the impact of environmental literacy and land stewardship across the California desert. MDLT’s Desert Discovery Field Studies (DDFS) program provides diverse, underprivileged students from desert communities with a creative and innovative way of boosting their understanding of the environment, the interconnection between people and place, desert ecology, and conservation. These experiential learning labs focus on important environmental themes while providing a chance for students to safely explore, learn, and conduct themselves as citizen scientists.
At the program core is a rigorous curriculum designed with engaging lessons about exploring the natural world that compliment and augment all subject areas and grades. When students investigate and share their discoveries with others, they learn faster, understand better, and retain information for longer. DDFS gives students an opportunity to study natural sciences and conservation collaboratively while applying knowledge about social studies, history, mathematics, health, and art. Teachers and school administrators value the program because it gives students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to the real world. Moreover, students learn social emotional skills not usually incorporated in curriculum at school, and for many this helps reinforce new ideas and ways of thinking.
Participants consistently express a newfound love of the desert and a better understanding of the desert‘s fragility. One 5th grader shared: “I love nature now; it’s so cool.” Another said, “I remember so much more about the desert. This creosote plant can live way longer than I can. I need to protect it from other people and development.”
The learning labs are comprised of:
- Classroom talks/participatory group activities on general themes of desert conservation which utilizes specialized knowledge of the unique ecosystems of the Mojave
- Outdoor field explorations that include near-by wilderness areas.
Supported by experienced, thoughtful staff, students learn healthy ways of interacting, the value of teamwork, how to be a leader, and fun new ways to express themselves. Desert Discovery Field Studies equips young learners with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to address complex environmental challenges and foster a sense of stewardship.