Maria Montessori stated in her book Discovery of the Child, “When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength.”

As a requirement of my Montessori-based education, I went away to a nature camp for one to four weeks per year from Kindergarten through eighth grade. By the time we were teenagers, we were spending a month out of the classroom learning about the natural world. I am certain that this exposure played a role in my interest in and enjoyment of conservation and working in the outdoors.

University of Redlands students get their hands dirty stewarding ESLT lands.

Thanks to your generosity, ESLT is able to host stewardship days that both improve habitat on our land and provide this type of deep educational experience for youth. I am confident that our involvement with youth plays a similar role in fostering their interest in and enjoyment of the natural world.

This year, we will be working with Pomona College students during their spring break to continue important work on Benton Ponds and with Orange Lutheran High School to build a free library at ESLT’s office. In the past, we have held restoration work days and educational outings with students from University of Redlands and from Bishop, Big Pine, and Benton elementary schools.

The counselors of these student groups have told me that the students open up and develop into themselves in ways they never had in the classroom or at home. They likely reveal their strengths in the same way Maria Montessori observed children doing in her time as an educator, and in the same way my classmates and I did during our week-long trips to the kettles and moraines of the Midwest.

I look forward to working with these student groups this year and to being a part of providing the same kinesthetic and outdoor experiences that I found valuable in my education.