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Each year, Course Catalina includes two seasons (one in October/November and one in May/June). During the year, three mainland schools receive two programs each. At 16 students per program, the annual attendance is 96 individuals plus their teachers.

Course Catalina has two meetings per group with the first visit ocurring in the classroom (usually in the Long Beach area schools) and the second involving a day long expedition into the wild areas of Catalina Island.

The first meeting is a classroom session where students learn about Catalina's first peoples and are introduced to the natural history of Catalina Island. Students are also briefed on what to expect and how to dress for their pending adventure.

As the day of their adventure arrives, the group boards the ocean-going Catalina Express to Avalon. An Education staff member meet the group at the dock, and then leads them board the bus into the interior.

Over the course of the day, students visit Catalina's most interesting natural and cultural destinations including El Rancho Escondido, the East Summit, Boskey Dell for an outdoor lunch, and then of to an adventure hike. The hike features an interpretive exploration of a riparian area (complete with stream hopping and tadpole observations).

Then it's off to Shark Harbor for some beach exploration, and a short hike over the Whale’s Tail to Little Harbor for some tide pool investigations. Then there's a stop at  Middle Ranch to view Pimu, the bald eagle, and learn more about the Conservancy's conservation mission before heading back into town. 

Back in Avalon, the group reflects on their day, on lessons learned and their impressions of their day in Catalina's wild lands before boarding their boat home.

Course Catalina is grant funded through the Boone Family Foundation. Nick Boone runs the foundation and actively participates in the Course Catalina program.

Some quotes from students:
“Last week, my parents took me to Disneyland. This is better.” – Seventh Grade Student [Fedde Middle School]

“I would like to thank you for changing my life and making me experience this one in a life time journey.” –Anthony C. [Ross Middle School]

“I thought this was just going to be riding on a dumb ol’ bus.  This is the best field trip ever.” --Srivaths M. [Tetzlaff Middle School]

For more information contact Willie Richerson, NatureWorks Program Specialist, at (310) 510-0954 ext 223 or  WRicherson@catalinaconservancy.org

Breaking waves at Little Harbor on the Island's windward side.
Photo by Jack Baldelli

El Rancho Escondido
Photo by Bob Rhein

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