A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
May 14, 2009 Volume 39 / Number 6


Spring Break at Golden Gate
Recreation and Parks Management

For the second year, Recreation and Parks Management offered a service-learning class during spring break, taught by Emilyn Sheffield, that offered students the opportunity to “explore a national park, gain valuable skills, and consider new perspectives.” Approximately 30 students enrolled in the class and were involved in trail work at Muir Woods, planting native plants at the Presidio, removing invasive plants at several park sites, helping with the weekly Ocean Beach clean-up, and learning about community-based stewardship programs at the Golden Gate National Parks.

In the 1970s a small group of passionate people banded together to create the Golden Gate National Parks. Since then thousands of volunteers have worked to transform these parklands. Working together they have created an urban oasis for millions of visitors and Bay Area residents, as well as for many native plants and animals. These parks are home to more threatened and endangered species than any other national park in the lower 48 states, and more than 560 million visitors have been drawn here since 1972.

Course Description
This course provides students the opportunity to experience service as a community engagement strategy for national parks and their partners. Integrated learning is coupled with service in a collaborative relationship that includes community-based stewardship, citizen science, service learning, and volunteer program managers at the Golden Gate National Parks in San Francisco. Theoretical and practical aspects of service learning and community-based stewardship occur in classroom and field settings. Students are involved in planning, implementing, and evaluating selected community-based stewardship and other service-learning or volunteer projects. This course includes a six-day field school at the Golden Gate National Parks in San Francisco with pre- and post-trip learning experiences in Chico.

What did the students do?
Students experienced a wide variety of community-based stewardship programs at various sites at the Golden Gate National Parks. They observed leadership techniques from more than a dozen professionals and learned about habitat restoration projects throughout the parks.

In addition to the service learning, the students learned more about the parks’ innovative approach to community engagement through a series of programs and presentations by park managers and leaders.

The students met Brian O'Neill, superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. O’Neill shared the partnership philosophy and strategy that has helped to make Golden Gate one of the most innovative units in the National Park Service. They also met leaders and program managers from the National Park Service, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the Presidio Trust.

Three National Park Service interpretive rangers provided special activities for our students, including an orientation to Muir Woods and a NPS welcome to the Field School, a walking tour that focused on the history and heritage of the Presidio, and a living history presentation on the Anza Expedition that established a Spanish presence in San Francisco in 1776.

On Sunday, the Chico students teamed up with two different partners to explore several different parts of the parks. On Sunday morning the group met the Chico Alumni Association for a beach clean-up at Ocean Beach. The beach was beautiful and lots of people helped, so the clean-up was quick and easy. Best of all, the Alumni Association hosted lunch for all the Chico volunteers. This could be the start of another great Chico State service tradition! Sunday afternoon the Chico students joined the parks, recreation, and tourism majors from San Francisco State University for “State at the Gate,” a program that included tours of the Fort Miley ropes course, the Presidio, and Crissy Field. About 50 students from Chico and SFSU laughed and learned together throughout this special afternoon.

On Monday, students toured Fort Baker, the newest destination at the Golden Gate National Parks. Four professionals from Fort Baker described the ambitious 10-year partnership that transformed the former military post into the newest park destination.

The course couldn’t have happened without a great deal of help from Yves Latouche, AS Food Services; Cody Fyotek, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy Senior Volunteer Manager and Chico State alum; Terry Kreidler, National Park Service and Chico State alum; Ranger Mia Monroe and Steve Meyer; Greg Jones; Jess Jones, current Chico graduate student and Field School Coordinator; Tommy Baggett, Che Garcia, and Ondrej Macejko, Team Leaders from the Recreation and Parks Management Department; Dr. Jim Fletcher (department chair) and Dean Phyllis Fernlund (College of Communication and Education).

—Emilyn Sheffield

Photos of Spring Break in Golden Gate

Eric Bartelink
Our final day at Crissy Field and we’re still smiling.

Eric Bartelink
We are learning about the Crissy Field Center and the Crissy Marsh.

Eric Bartelink
Ranger Rik Penn shares the history of the Presidio.

Troy Jollimore
We are working with the Presidio Trust in their habitat restoration program at the Presidio.

Stephen Lewis

More Planting!

Sara Cooper

We are planting native plants at Mountain Lake.