The Earth Stewards Program (ESP) is a service learning project for high school students focused on practicing stewardship and cultivating interest in green careers relating to natural resource management, parks and recreation, and the biological sciences. In line with the museum’s mission to connect people with nature and science to inspire stewardship of the natural world, ESP develops relationships between students in their final years of primary education with environmental and land management organizations who are looking for volunteers, interns, and employees.
Over the past several years, the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History has worked with Ponderosa High School students every Friday of the school year, partnering with a wide variety of local organizations and nonprofits whose work broadly focuses on land management and the natural sciences. Partner organizations have included Santa Cruz City Parks, Younger Lagoon Reserve, Quail Hollow, Coastal Watershed Council, UCSC Campus Natural Reserve, Homeless Garden Project, the UCSC Arboretum, and CA State Parks. Projects have included native planting, invasive plant removal, trail building and maintenance, crop harvesting, biological surveys, bird banding, and beach clean-ups, and often span several weeks, allowing students to both begin and see a project through to completion.
If you are a teacher interested in your class participating as a part of the Earth Stewards Program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org