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Humboldt County Office of Education: Ecology and Art Education Programs Promote Stewardship for Students

Ecology and Art Education Programs Promote Stewardship for Students

Ecology and Art Education Programs Promote Stewardship for Students

Since the pilot project in 2004, The Ecology & Art Education Program: Our Coastal Redwoods, emphasizes the habitat lifecycle and food web in old coast redwood forests and is designed to connect young people and their families to the ecology of old growth redwood forests.

The program is directed by Barbara Domanchuk in collaboration with area schools, Humboldt County Office of Education, County Parks, State Parks, National Parks, State Fish and Wildlife, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards, Friends of the Van Duzen River, California Native Plants Society, Humboldt Redwoods Co, LLC, and the Ink People and has been funded by Save the Redwoods League, McLean Foundation, and other foundations interested in environmental education and the conservation of old coast redwood forests.

Humboldt County Parks have a fourteen year history of hosting Domanchuk’s team of artists and scientists as they deliver up to five days of hands on projects, starting in the classroom and moving through a variety of education stations set up in the old growth redwood forest.

This year, Toddy Thomas’ fifth grade class in Fortuna participated in the camp program, which included presentations from County Park Rangers, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center and National Park Foresters. Students learned about the 230 million year old history of redwood forests, received hands-on lessons with items from the forest such as moss, branches, lichens, bark, cones and seeds and learned about various birds, owls, and falcons.

Making the connection between the river, the forest and all creatures was the main theme of the nature walks, lessons, and learning stations. Domanchuk is quoted as saying, “remember every forest has a river that is teaming with life which feeds us, the plants, the fish, bats and the birds.”

Outdoor stations ranging from macro-invertebrate, water quality, trout dissection and herpetology- where students observe and learn about the difference between amphibians and reptiles, make for some impactful learning opportunities.

Throughout the camp, the students from Toddy Thomas produced art and poetry that will be featured at Hoppy’s Fro Yo in Fortuna throughout May. The art opening and poetry reading will be on Friday, May 4 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The community is invited to attend.

Domanchuk also has two other projects available for students in the Eel River Valley which include Backyard Botany and The Young MediaMakers. Backyard Botany is an opportunity designed to focus the students on the botany and art making in nature, with nature. It includes extensive nature hikes, learning about the original uses for fire and all aspects of the cost redwood trees and canopy.

The Young MediaMakers program offers a chance to learn how to interview a classmate about an important social or environmental topic. Domanchuk teaches the power of persuasion, framing and editing techniques used to tell a story in sixty seconds.

The Young MediaMakers 18th Big Screen Showcase will be happening May 6 at the Sequoia Conference Center. The pre-show will be at 3 p.m. and the showcase and award ceremony will be from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

“Place-based learning is an effective way to encourage stewardship of a place,” states Domanchuk. “Through encouraging fun safe exploration and discovery, we plant the seeds of stewardship that grow as our students … grow up.”

To learn more, contact Barbara Domanchuk at 707-768-1738 or You can also find information at or see examples of the videos at

Some photos from the program can be found here: