Today was our field trip to the UCLA Stunt Ranch nature preserve in Calabasas. Despite the name, the Stunt Ranch has nothing to do with filming old-time westerns: the first European family to settle in this area was named Stunt. Now a part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, it is run by UCLA as both a natural area and as a center for the study of Chumash and Tongva culture.
It is a strikingly beautiful area.
After our long bus ride, our students and parents were met by volunteer docents. This was Paul who lead the group I helped to chaperone.
We walked about a mile from the road to the heart of the nature preserve. Along the way we passed through a variety of habitats: chaparral, grassland, savannah, and oak woodlands. We did not see any of the many animals who call this area home – they were smarter than us and decided to stay inside when it was so hot! – but we found evidence of them everywhere.
Once we reached the site of the old Stunt homestead – soon to be a lovely new interpretive center – the students engaged in a variety of activities designed to show them how the Chumash and Tongva peoples interacted with their environment. Here they worked on grinding acorns into mush.
They also practice some of the games and activities that the native children would have loved. Here they learned to swing a singing stick.
After eating lunch, they made their way back to the bus through another environment, the riparian. Along the way, they learned to identify and avoid poison oak.
Homework: Have a great weekend!