Public School Partners and Trails
For each public school partner site, we work closely with teachers, staff and volunteers to provide educational hikes, pre-hike lesson, Oak Ambassador training and support, wildlife cameras and associated learning enrichment materials.
Santa Margarita Elementary School
A K-5th grade school within the Atascadero Unified School District, SMES is where Learning Among the Oaks started in 2005. AUSD Superintendent Tom Butler, SMES Principal Marshawn Porter, as well as SMES teachers, staff and families have been a big part of LATO’s development. The 13,000 acre historic Santa Margarita Ranch surrounds the school; thanks to an agreement with SMR owners Karl Wittstrom, Doug Filipponi and Rob Rossi, we are able to use about 15 acres of the Ranch for guided educational hikes. Through collaboration with AUSD, this LATO Nature Center includes a dedicated classroom space and two learning landscapes.
Ocean View Elementary School
A K-6th grade school within the Lucia Mar Unified School District, OVES welcomed LATO as a partner in 2017. This was our first expansion to a school without an a nature trail within walking distance. The Land Conservancy’s Pismo Preserve is a 10 min. bus ride away; we adopted its Vamonos Trail as our nature trail and field study site. Inaugural Principal Sarah Butler and current Principal Brad Grumbles along with faculty, staff and families have helped LATO quickly grow into a beloved part of the school community. Although we don’t have a dedicated classroom space we do have a “Cougar Den,” a spacious conference room used for Oak Ambassador trainings.
Vineyard Elementary School
A 3rd-5th grade school within the Templeton Unified School District, VES welcomed LATO in 2018 as a partner in expanding and enhancing use of its long established Vineyard School Nature Trail. This beautiful Nature Trail is located on TUSD property adjacent to campus and features oak woodland, grassland and a riparian area along a section of the Paso Robles Creek. Inaugural Principal Laura Brooks, current Principal Dr. Devon Hodgson, faculty, staff and families have been wonderful partners! In 2019, we completed an oak habitat restoration and trail improvement project at the site in partnership with US Fish and Wildlife and community partners (ONX Winery, Templeton Heritage Tree Foundation). Another habitat restoration and trail project is starting now.