Who are the Oak Ambassadors?
Oak Ambassadors (OA) are students, 4th grade and above, who have completed twelve weeks of junior naturalist training to serve as competent nature guides for other kids and families on local oak trails and at camps and community events. The program started in 2010 at Santa Margarita School and has grown each year. More students are seeking the challenges involved in teaching other kids, families and our community about nature in our oak woodlands.
I discovered that I am more comfortable in nature. I was excited to learn because I just like to learn in general and learning about something I really like is super fun. I love being an OA! —- Riley, OA Class of 2020
I love nature. I especially love birds and mammals and would like to teach others about nature. — Ava, OA Class of 2020
I learned many things about nature and why we need to protect it. I enjoyed everything that we learned. I’m very excited for graduation! —- Emory, OA Class of 2020
How to become an Oak Ambassador
With increased support, we hope to offer Learning Among the Oaks Program services, including Oak Ambassadors, at more public schools in the future. We are currently limited to our three San Luis Obispo County public school partners: (Atascadero Unified School District/Santa Margarita School; Lucia Mar Unified School District/Ocean View School and Templeton Unified School District/Vineyard School.
Interested 4th grade students at public partner schools must maintain a B avg. in regular classroom studies and an A in citizenship. Applications are available through classroom teachers in mid-November of each year and interviews are conducted in December. Weekly training sessions begin in January and run through early April.
Covid Update: Due to the pandemic, we adapted our usual training program to an online Oak Nature Club (ONC). ONC kids may have the opportunity to serve as oak nature trail guides when we are able to resume school hikes.
What is expected of Oak Ambassadors?
Oak Ambassadors learn inside and outside the classroom during their 12 week naturalist training period. It is expected that OAs come prepared to learn, ask questions, and collaborate with their fellow students to make the most of their learning opportunity. All Oak Ambassadors are expected to adhere to the OA Code of Conduct.
Oak Ambassadors at Work
With LATO staff and docents as ongoing mentors, Oak Ambassadors help guide LATO nature trail hikes for other students at their school as well as for occasional community hikes. Oak Ambassadors also have the opportunity to teach other kids at youth nature camps and community events. Sometimes this teaching involves presenting fun and educational skits and puppet shows designed by Cal Poly Senior Project students. OAs share wonders of nature that otherwise may be missed by the novice hiker. Connecting land, habitats and animals allow younger students to grasp just how connected we all are. OAs promote curiosity by asking open-ended questions and encourage students to share what they have learned with their family and community.
Continuing to Serve and Learn
Following graduation, Oak Ambassadors are ready to help guide school nature hikes as well as occasional community hikes, especially for local youth groups, children and families. In addition, Oak Ambassadors are invited to help present outreach programs, often featuring LATO puppet shows and skits, at nature camps, libraries and festivals.
Some Oak Ambassador alumni, like Tristan (shown at R and below) serve as wildlife camera project volunteers.
Featured Interview on KVEC!
How are Oak Ambassadors supported?
The Oak Ambassador program and LATO are supported by grants, partners, volunteers and donors who believe in the value of LATO and its positive impacts for our community. We need and appreciate your contributions!