Oak Ambassadors

Educating and inspiring tomorrow's conservation leaders
I had a lot of fun today – those kids really impressed me! Definitely one of the most engaged and knowledgeable group of children I’ve presented for. I think this program is really teaching the children a lot, and I imagine their appreciation for nature can only translate into better future-stewardship of the land. Thanks! 
Heather Neldner, Cal Poly biology senior (now graduate student)
Oak Ambassador teacher/mentor (herpetology)
November 2016

Oak Ambassadors are 4th grade students and above who have completed specialized training to serve as oak nature guides on LATO trails. Students are recommended by their regular classroom teachers at LATO partner schools and then must complete an application and interview. Quite a challenge for a 4th grader! Selected students then go through nine weeks of pull out science and leadership classes before graduation. After graduation, students are ready to don OA vests and go explore the oak woodlands with other kids. Kids teaching kids – how cool is that!

The OA program started in 2010 when 5th and 6th grade Santa Margarita School students were selected to guide a special 5th anniversary tour. Many special people, including then California Wildlife Conservation Board Oak Woodlands Conservation Program manager Marilyn Cundiff, enjoyed the tour and were impressed by their young oak nature guides. The students exceeded expectations and were natural stars – eager to share their knowledge.

As of 2017, seventy-one students have accepted the challenge to become Oak Ambassadors. Most of these are from Santa Margarita Elementary School; it was very exciting to add Ocean View Elementary School Oak Ambassadors this year!

Many OA alumni stay involved, serving as wildlife camera team volunteers and teaching/mentoring OAs-in-training.

First ever Ocean View School Oak Ambassador graduation celebration!                                                                                            April 2017

Nathan Sharon, LATO Intern

Nathan Sharon, LATO Intern

Santa Margarita School Oak Ambassador Alumnus and LCSLO Youth Board Trustee