My name is John L. Sanders and Nature Awareness and Outdoor Science Education are my passions.
My journey as an outdoor science educator began in 1995, at UC Santa Cruz. While cruising Monterey Bay on a whale watching trip with middle-school students in our summer science program, we observed a large pod of Orcas (killer whales) chasing and then attacking a migrating grey whale and her calf.
The impact of what these science students were witnessing first hand, was far greater than even the best science or nature film could have achieved. Their curiosity about the event gave me an opening to discuss other science topics such as marine mammal behavior, marine food chains, migration cycles, ocean topography, predator/prey relationships, and a host of other topics. The students’ passion for science education had been ignited by their outdoor experiences.
I began teaching Outdoor Science classes in 2002, when I was hired as a Naturalist with the Kern Environmental Education Program (Camp KEEP) in Cambria, California. Our science curriculum covers both life science and earth science topics including photosynthesis, plant/animal adaptations, food webs, resource allocation, wind and waves, tides, plate tectonics, topography, intertidal ecology, estuary ecology, animal behavior, and astronomy.
Over the last 13 years, I have interacted with thousands of science students from Kern, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo Counties, in an outdoor setting.