The Kern Environmental Education Program (KEEP), opened in 1968, provides a five-day residential environmental education program for Kern County’s fifth and sixth grade students. Operated by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office, KEEP's two campuses serve over 7,000 students each year. This means ALL children. Besides fifth and sixth graders, KEEP staff host and serve the visually and orthopedically handicapped, deaf and hard-of-hearing as well as children and adults with mental disabilities.
(Watersheds, erosion, transportation, sedimentation and Beach Keepers at the dunes and sandy beach ecosystems)
During Watershed Day, students will spend most of their time at the Oceano dunes and sandy beach. On campus, students engage with a watershed model exploring what a watershed is and how watersheds contribute to creating beaches. At the dunes and beach students compare and contrast the model with the watershed visible before them. Students also engage in sand exploration, beach discovery activities, and have the unique opportunity to participate in an international citizen science project called Beach Keepers.
Woodland Discovery Day–mysteries of the oak forest
(The process of decomposition, soil study, and symbiotic relationships in the oak woodlands on campus)
During Woodland Discovery Day, students will explore the oak woodlands surrounding the KEEP By The Sea campus with a focus on symbiotic relationships and how decomposition plays a part in the carbon cycle. Students engage in a lichen investigation and learn about the mutually beneficial relationship between algae and fungus. Students also discover various decomposers and their important role in the ecosystem. Finally, students will study in-depth decomposition using microscopes in the Learning Center.
Using these scientific practices, students will discover the biotic (living) and abiotic (nonliving) factors of each ecosystem, the survival strategies (adaptations) of plants and animals, the nutrient and energy cycles within an ecosystem, and the interdependent relationships that are necessary for all living things to survive. The ecosystems students will explore at KEEP By The Sea are described below. Students are free to take photos of any plants and animals they see, and they will also record memories in their field journals and their minds.
As students climb the coastal mountains through the chaparral ecosystem they will study geology and plant adaptations. Many reptiles, birds, and mammals are regularly seen in the chaparral. Climbing to the top of these mountains and seeing the spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastline stretching below them gives the students a sense of accomplishment not felt in traditional educational settings.