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Seed the Future Fundraising Campaign

Introducing our Seed The Future Campaign

The Conservancy’s outdoor education programming serves school children, older adults, and everyone in between. Our Seed the Future campaign will provide dedicated funding to launch new programs and sustain existing ones. Through our environmental education programs, events, and exhibits, we reach more than 15,000 people every year.

Acquiring habitat and restoring it is a crucial part of how we preserve nature. We also educate people of all ages about why wildlands are important. In the field and the classroom, our engaging outdoor and environmental education programs excite, inspire, and provide connections to nature that our future leaders need to become environmental stewards, so the land we protect will be cared for by generations to come.

Education Manager Ariel Reed
email: [email protected] | phone: (256) 221-6634

For review: Seed the Future Brochure

Support the Conservancy’s Education Fund.



Education Strategy

In 2015, The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) met with stakeholders, partners, and collaborators to create the Conservancy’s first-ever Education Strategic Plan.  This is a five-year plan (Jan. 2016 – Dec. 2020) that will steer the Conservancy’s approach to our environmental education programs within the watershed, including–but not limited to–the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve.  We believe the Plan will ensure that our programs are as engaging and effective as our organizational capacity allows.

If you would like to download a copy of the executive summary, please click on the document file.  If you would like a hard copy of the executive summary, please contact:

Education Manager Ariel Reed
email: [email protected] | phone: (256) 221-6634

For review: TECC Education Strategic Plan 2016-2020 – Executive Summary


EUSD Conservation Consortium Program

Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, we joined forces with the San Diego Zoo and San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy (SELC) to provide back-to-back nature-based fieldtrip programs for every 3rd, 4th, and 5th grader in the Escondido Union School District (EUSD), plus all 6th graders from Title I schools in the District—a combined total of 20 schools! This multi-year, multi-partner, revolutionary approach to environmental education has never been attempted in our region.

How it works
First, environmental educators from The Escondido Creek Conservancy visit each EUSD school to introduce the 3rd-grade students to the concept of ecosystems through a fun, highly interactive escape-room style classroom presentation. Next, the children expand on these concepts by exploring and investigating local habitats in the 784-acre Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve (which offers oak riparian, oak woodland, coastal sage scrub, and chaparral plant communities). Using an inquiry-based learning approach, they discover the interrelationships between native wildlife, native plants, the biological communities they inhabit, and the impact human activities have on these ecosystems. Afterwards, the 3rd graders participate in anti-litter campaign to help keep our habitats and communities clean and beautiful. But the 3rd grade curriculum is just one part of a much larger program.

All of the 4th grade students from these same schools receive fieldtrips through the San Diego Zoo to learn about watersheds, and in 5th grade the students explore the San Elijo Lagoon and Cardiff State Beach with SELC to learn about food chains. Additionally, 6th grade students from the EUSD take fieldtrips to the Elfin Forest and to an outdoor learning lab at the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research to conduct conservation science projects as part of a Save Our Species program.

Why it matters
This new comprehensive strategy represents a significant sea change to how we and our partner organizations traditionally approached environmental education efforts in this District. In the past, all three organizations have predominantly operated independently at various grade levels, doing great work, but creating overlap and leaving gaps. Our new approach refocuses our efforts and brings the organizations together for optimal reach and impact. Establishing coordinated multi-partner, multi-year nature-based programs for 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Escondido Unified School District is an unprecedented approach to environmental education, the likes of which has never been attempted in San Diego County.

We believe that the continuity of these programs, from 3rd grade to 6th grade, will provide a holistic understanding of our environment and the issues confronting it, and that it will foster the next generation of environmental super stewards as a result. A longer-term goal is to permanently fund these programs so that the programs can better compliment one another. We also hope to eventually cover more grade levels so that every child in the Escondido Unified School District will receive quality environmental education.


Trout in the Classroom

Steelhead trout were once abundant in southern California, but their populations have plummeted due to urban development, dams, and degraded water quality conditions.  The Conservancy has a dream to one day repopulate Escondido Creek with steelhead, but for that to happen, the water quality of the creek needs to improve.

This is a highly engaging program where 3rd-8th grade students raise trout from eggs to juvenile fish and then release them in an approved lake. As students care for the fish, they come to realize the importance of clean water and healthy ecosystems. We are confident that the environmental stewards who participate in this program will help to one day make our dream of trout in Escondido Creek a reality.

Thanks to three years of generous grant funding from SDG&E’s Environmental Champions initiative, the Conservancy has sponsored this program in seven local schools. The grants provided funding for equipment and transportation to the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve (EFRR) where students experienced our Watersheds curriculum. After completing the program, students have a greater understanding of watersheds, water quality, and civic engagement.

Conservation Fellowship!

In 2018, the Escondido Creek Conservancy kicked off a program for high school to college-aged youth to participate in a revolutionary redesign of the flood control channel in Grape Day Park. This opportunity allowed the youth to explore the watershed, work alongside business professionals, and make a difference in their community.

After the success of the inaugural cohort, the Conservancy wants to continue the fellowship.  Conservation Fellows explore different sites within the Escondido Creek watershed through fun hikes and overnight camping trips. Additionally, Fellows explore different career options and network with engineers, architects, economists, and wildlife biologists. With the help of Conservancy mentors, each Fellow also creates and presents their own project to the Conservancy and city leaders. Service with the Conservation Fellowship gets youth outdoors, allows them to make an impact in their community, and makes them stand out from other candidates as they apply for college or employment.

The Conservation Fellowship is a unique summer program offered to students living in the City of Escondido. We are looking for young students who are looking to make a difference in their community and have a passion for science! As part of this program, students will gain hands-on experience learning about biology and ecology.

Topics that will be introduced include: local environmental restoration, native wildlife, and our Escondido Creek watershed. Students will then have the opportunity to apply their new-found knowledge in developing a script to guide a nature walk at Reidy Creek. Their nature walk will be open to families, friends, and the public for attendance.

Click here for the final report on the inaugural cohort of Conservation Fellows and their adventures.

Benefits of Becoming a Conservation Fellow:

  • Earn community service hours!
  • Work with professionals who can write letters of recommendations and act as mentors!
  • Gain real experience and knowledge about conservation and the environment!

This fellowship program runs when funding allows. Learn more at the link below:

Conservation Fellows

5-Day Summer Adventure Camps

Escondido Creek Adventure Camp is a wildly engaging 5-day outdoor summer day camp. Campers explore the enchanting Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, where they discover the natural world by hiking, playing, and conducting hands-on science! The wide variety of activities includes guided exploration, arts and crafts, games, science experiments, story time, visits from special live animal ambassadors, and more! Each of the five days at camp will have a different theme, including Exploration and DiscoveryPlants and PollinatorsAmazing Animal AdaptationsWatershed Wonders, and Pollution & the Solution

Each day begins and ends at Grape Day Park in downtown Escondido, allowing the campers the opportunity to observe the connection between the urban portion of the creek upstream and the more natural section of the creek downstream, plus it allows them the chance to use the playground and socialize with their fellow campers. We provide transportation from Grape Day Park to Elfin Forest and back.


2023 pricing is still being determined. This 5-day summer day camp program costs $275 per camper.


Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning involves partnerships in which participants gain knowledge and skills by working with staff/volunteers to investigate and respond to real-life questions, problems, or challenges facing the watershed or the Conservancy. This includes K-12 and college-level environmental research projects, and student-designed projects focusing on vital environmental questions.  Every year, we produce a new list of projects and let students and their teachers select the ones that are most interesting and relevant to them.

Past projects have included things like water quality testing of the creek, the construction of owl boxes, wren boxes, bat boxes, and bee hotels, the design of logos and graphics for the Conservancy, investigations of native and invasive species of ants, and more.

If your school is in the Escondido Creek watershed and you would like to learn more about projects we offer, contact Education Manager Ariel Reed: [email protected].