Fifty students from Mr. Senn’s AP Environmental Science and Environmental Studies classes embarked on a one-night field trip to Slide Ranch on Wednesday, March 15th. The field trip was a welcomed respite from school to the green hills and beautiful coastal views in Marin. Slide Ranch is an educational farm on Golden Gate National Park land. Their mission is to connect kids with nature through overnight trips like this one, as well as camps and volunteer days.
We began the trip together on a bus, in which the skilled driver maneuvered the large vehicle up and down narrow, windy roads. When we got to Slide Ranch, we were greeted by very cheery, though at times a bit too cheery, naturalists who led us to the goat and sheep farm. Speaking to us as though we were five years old, they talked about the cycle for goats producing milk. Then they brought out Dottie, their mama goat who was ready to be milked. Students were able to try her fresh milk by getting squirted directly on their hands or even straight into their mouth. There were mixed opinions on the experience, with some noting the unwelcome surprise of the milk being warm, while others said that it tasted very similar to cow’s milk.
We then split up into groups for a few hours for a variety of activities. My group was led by naturalist Posie Potato. She took us to see the farm’s chickens and then ducks. We fed and held the chickens, witnessed a male Mallard duck asserting his dominance while mating with a female duck, as well as the blind duck Daphne waddling around. Posie Potato then took us to watercolor at a spot overlooking the ocean.
Later on, we took a tasting tour of the garden. We tried leaves of kale, sour sorrel, mustard, and more. We each picked out two of our favorite plants to put in fried rice, which we cooked in the garden and used large leaves as our bowls. After such a laborious day, we took a nap in the sun and were given a pleasant hello by a bird skull lying nearby.
After setting up camp on a grassy plateau overlooking the coast, students were given a few hours of free time. We wandered along hiking trails and went down to the water, traversing through deep mud to reach the rocks where we sat and looked out over the ocean. Omar Staples, Tech’s athletic star, unfortunately lost a shoe during this time when it sank into the mud on his way to the water.
Later into the evening we had a campfire, though there were many trials and tribulations until Mr. Senn was able to create a sustaining blaze adequate for s’mores. We played a few rounds of Telephone and were successful once! Everyone enjoyed their golden or burnt s’mores, and friends went off to have fun (or go to sleep early) for the rest of the night.
On Thursday, we left Slide Ranch and spent a few hours in Muir Woods, the famous magical redwood forest. Emiko Shiota suffered a bloody nose on the way there and strategically shoved a tampon up her nostril to absorb the blood. She highly recommends this trick for fellow bloody-nose sufferers! The river flowing through the trees was gushing, a rare and beautiful sight in our drought-prone state. Students walked along hiking trails and attempted to find a tree big enough for ten people to wrap around it.
After nearly two hours of strolling through the forest, we had a sleepy bus ride back to school. Thanks to Slide Ranch, Mr. Senn, student organizers, and chaperones for making this trip happen!