Santa Margarita Elementary School LATO
Home of the Mustangs
Santa Margarita Elementary School LATO Highlights
Santa Margarita Elementary School (SMES) is where LATO began in 2005. Part of Atascadero Unified School District, it is a rural school with approximately 270 students, K–5th grade, located in Santa Margarita, CA.
The school is surrounded by the oak woodlands of the 13,000-acre Santa Margarita Ranch, a historic California ranch owned by Karl Wittstrom, Doug Filipponi and Rob Rossi. The ranch owners have made LATO possible through a license agreement with The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County allowing guided educational hikes, field studies and habitat enhancement projects in the area just beyond the school playground.
What’s happening at our school and trails
SMES News and Views
Docent/Photographer Mike Klatt took a lot of great images of Oak Ambassadors working with their Cal Poly team coaches on October 15, 2014.
A super California Conservation Corps crew, led by Araceli Loayza, did an amazing job working on trail station improvements on Oct. 7, 2014. Sawyers...
Cal Poly Wow Day of Service ~ Gateway landscape is beautiful, ready for autumn and rain this winter!
Sept. 20, 2014 was the date for this year's Cal Poly WOW Day of Service. Those coming and going to Santa Margarita School have noticed a big change...
SMES Nature Center
The Atascadero Unified School District has provided a dedicated classroom (Room 801) on the SMES campus to develop as a LATO Nature Center. With support from our community, this spacious classroom is undergoing transformation into a vibrant place for training Oak Ambassadors, field trip lessons and learning enrichment activities. The classroom currently features several Cal Poly Senior Projects developed specifically for the LATO Nature Center as well as projects created by SMES Oak Ambassadors.
Santa Margarita Ranch LATO Trail
The Santa Margarita Ranch LATO Trail is located on private property; access is restricted to guided educational hikes and activities. Click here for directions and details to help you prepare for a scheduled field trip.
This trail meanders through oak woodlands and grasslands of the Santa Margarita Ranch. Oaks growing here include Coast Live Oak, Valley Oak and Blue Oak.
SMES Gateway to Nature
The SMES Gateway to Nature, located along the H St. entrance to Santa Margarita School, is a learning landscape featuring a monarch butterfly and other native pollinators habitat with educational signage.
Marguerite’s Native Oak Community Landscape
Marguerite’s Native Oak Community Landscape (aka Upper Gateway to Nature) is located at the entrance to the Santa Margarita Ranch LATO Trail, near the end of the school parking lot.
The goals of this project are to beautify the LATO Trail entrance area, to restore the local native plant community, and provide a place for kids and families to learn about native flora.