Summer Fun at Explore Ecology Camps

Does your child love to be outside exploring nature, creating art, cooking, and being around kids with similar interests?


Check out  Explore Ecology’s  Summer Camp. We’ve been offering camps for over 15 years and know what makes kids happy campers! This summer we are offering four sessions of camps.


Ecology Explorers Camp is an exciting and educational week of fun-filled activities at the Watershed Resource Center.

Copy of WRC 2012 008

Our experienced staff of environmental educators will lead students in activities that include beach and nature explorations, environmental concept games, cooking, nature crafts, tie-dye, and more! Snacks included.
Camp Dates: June 22 – 26, July 20 – 24, 2015

Natural Artists Camp is held at Art From Scrap and the Watershed Resource Center.

AFS Art Workshop 045(1)
Join us for a week of connectedness with nature and creativity from within. Students will work with local artists and create beautiful art at the Watershed Resource Center and Art from Scrap. Our experienced staff of environmental and art educators will inspire students to create nature-inspired art. Snacks included.
Camp Dates: July 6 – 10, 2015

How’s it Growing? Garden Camp connects students to the natural world at the Watershed Resource Center and Explore Ecology’s School Gardens.


Our experienced Environmental and Garden Educators will lead students in garden explorations, games, and activities that excite students and inspire them to learn more about organic gardening and eating healthy food! Snacks included.
Camp Dates: August 3 – 7 , 2015

To sign up contact our Education Director Mariana Cruz at mariana@exploreecology.orgor (805) 884-0459 x16


Posted in Art Discovery, Art in Santa Barbara, Environmental Education, Explore Ecology, Science Exploration, Watershed Resource Center | Leave a comment

Celebrating the Artists of Summer Solstice at Art Opening and Party

Meet the artists of Solstice at the art opening and party for the Spirit of Solstice art exhibition on Friday, May 29th, from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm  at the Art From Scrap Gallery at 302 East Cota in downtown Santa Barbara. Featuring the work of past and current Artists-in-Residence at Santa Barbara’s Solstice Workshop, this exhibition celebrates the creative spirit of Solstice. The Solstice Parade and Festival is the largest arts event in Santa Barbara County, drawing over 100,000 spectators from around the world.

The Spirit of Solstice exhibition includes costumes, puppets, and memorabilia from past parades as well as new art from the creative geniuses that make this Santa Barbara tradition come alive each  year. Artists include: Ann Chevrefils, Hathor Hammett, Mary Price, Diane Arnold, Lark Batteau, Laura Smith, Claire Frandsen, Stacie Bouffard, Claudia Bratton, and Pali X Mano. This multimedia show features masks, headdresses, ceramics, papier-mâché sculptures, assemblage, paintings, and one of Pali X Mano’s iconic inflatable sculptures.


Dragon Head by Stacie Bouffard

Stacie Bouffard, President of the Board of Summer Solstice says, “Summer Solstice is filled with an incredible, magical, creative spirit that is shared with the community on one summer day.  Behind the scenes of the parade is a group of very talented artists. Many who have been with Solstice for years. What do these artists do the rest of the year? They do what they love, which is create art!”

Ceramic Sculpture by Claire Frandson

Ceramic Sculpture by Claire Frandson

Join us for art, food, live music, and festivities. Enjoy music and a drum circle with the Drummers of Solstice. Make a Shaker or Maraca at our Art From Scrap table to bring to the parade. The Spirit of Solstice is a wonderful opportunity to meet the artists who work so hard to make Summer Solstice the amazing event it is.

Save the date! The Spirit of Solstice opens at the Art From Scrap Gallery on Friday, May 29th, from 6:00-8:00 pm and will hang in the AFS Gallery through June 15th, 2015.

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Kids Take Action and Replace Disposable Cups at Their School

Lauren Thal cares about kids and the environment. A longtime participant in our Flows to the Ocean (FTO) Marine Debris Prevention program, Lauren is a 4th grade teacher at Franklin Elementary.  After learning about watersheds, waste reduction, and how plastic trash impacts sea life and ocean health, Lauren’s class decided to tackle the issue of disposable plastic cups at their school. They were shocked to learn that over 1,000 cups were used and disposed of every day!  As their year end project, Laurens’ class raised money to purchase a dishwasher and durable cups for the cafeteria.

Thal students

A Smart Choice- Reusable Cups Instead of Disposable

Lauren is now being honored for this major achievement with the City of Santa Barbara’s  Spirit of Service Award. Lauren says,”I was nominated for making an environmental impact on kids. I think we should try and make this a model for all elementary schools. All they need is a dishwasher and cups!”

thal students 3

Students in Action

Flows To The Ocean (FTO) is a year long program that educates students about litter’s impact on the ocean.  Since an estimated 80-85% of marine debris comes from the land, FTO students learn how their actions on land affect our waterways.

FTO consists of the Creek Kids Series which is two in class lessons and a field trip to the Watershed Resource Center and a local creek. These are followed by an Waste Reduction class.  The FTO program culminates in a trip to Santa Cruz Island where students conduct a beach clean up, go on hikes, and learn how plastic litter is affecting wildlife.

FTO Students on Santa Cruz Island

FTO Students on Santa Cruz Island

Each class that participates in FTO is required to do a project that focuses on reducing marine debris by teaching others how to replace disposable plastic products with durable items.

If you’d like to support these young environmentalists on their quest to make the ocean a cleaner place join us for free pizza and ice cream, at this year’s Flows To The Ocean Family Night on Wednesday May 20th at the Watershed Resource Center at Arroyo Burro Beach.

To learn more about the Lauren’s project, click here>

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Support School Gardens at Our Farm to Table Event

garden 4Show your support for school gardens on Saturday, April 25, from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the Organic Farm to Table Fundraiser for Explore Ecology’s School Gardens Program. Join us for an afternoon of fun and education! The event features a seasonal menu with delicious locally grown organic food, live music, and farm tours.

FINAL FARM_smGuests will learn about our School Gardens Program, meet our Garden Educators and Director, and hear about volunteering opportunities in the gardens. To see a short video about the program, click here.

The Explore Ecology School Gardens Program connects kids to nature and teaches them how to grow their own organic food. Using the garden as an outdoor classroom, the School Gardens Program serves over 8,000 students per year in 35 local public elementary schools throughout Santa Barbara County.

sugar snap in the hands(1)Your support will help our organization continue to make an impact and ensure that all children in Santa Barbara County have access to a garden. See you on the farm!

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Why School Gardens Matter

“Miss Jessica!!” “Miss Jessica!” I turn my head to see two first graders walking down the hallway, looking very proud, and they are shouting my name with enthusiasm. I walk towards them, gesturing for them to be quiet, but before I have taken three steps they are shouting again, this time they are holding their lunch boxes high up in the air, like strange trophies.

“We have FRUIT in our lunches!!!!!” Their voices are breaking with excitement, and I feel my face crack into a giant smile, I have stopped in my tracks and they are already racing around the corner. If I could only choose one word to describe how I felt in that moment, rewarded about sums it up.

In the few months since I’ve had the pleasure to begin my work with Explore Ecology, I have come to realize the vital importance of the work I am doing.

garden 2It’s hard to explain the feeling that washes over me when I discover that the child I have just made a salad for is tasting a green onion, or a beet, or a cucumber, for the first time in their entire life. The way their eyes light up when it dawns upon them that the crisp carrot they hold in their small hands was grown from energy from the sun. Learning that nutrition isn’t just a word on a label but something tangible that has a direct impact on their lives, learning about vitamins and nutrients and not just that fruits and vegetables are good for them, but why they are good for them is a first for most of them.

garden 5For many of the children, this isn’t just their first time seeing food born straight from the source, its the first time they are seeing that vegetable to begin with, in any shape or form.

The squeals of horror when students are holding an earthworm, or smelling the compost, are music to my ears. They are learning that sometimes the ugly, the stinky, the scary things in this world are what makes our lives possible, our food possible. These children develop an understanding of not only the way an ecosystem functions, but what we can do to be stewards of the environment and the food chain. They can carry the knowledge of the harmful ramifications of chemical pesticides and insecticides both home and on into the future, and are ambassadors for healthy eating to not only their peers but ideally their own children someday.

garden 3The obesity rates in this country have skyrocketed. Heart disease and diabetes is rampant. I am living in a generation that has succumbed to easy living, fast food is the staple for the average American, and we, as a populace, are moving farther and farther away from a working knowledge or appreciation for the source of the foods that frequent our dinner plates.

The solution, I truly believe, lies in the education of our future generations. They are the seeds of change. When I see children let out for their lunch break make a beeline straight for the garden, run up to me with hearts pumping and breathlessly ask what they can do in the garden that day, I am filled with hope. For that child, for their peers, and for our collective futures.

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Art Inspired By Spring- FLORA Opens at AFS Gallery

Celebrate Spring at FLORA, a living art exhibition opening at the Art From Scrap Gallery this Friday, April 10th, from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. FLORA is a multimedia exhibit inspired by early spring, new growth, natural cycles, and changing seasons.

Bird House by Adam Kopras

Bird House by Adam Kopras

There will be a variety of living walls, art made with fresh plant materials, installations, painting, and assemblage. Flora features work by Adam Kopras, Ruben Pedregon, Judy Nilsen, Pali X Mano, Lori Avery Cummings, Mary Price, Terra Edwards, Jason Summers, and Tara Patrick.

Faun of the Night Flora- created by Pali X Mano (pictured) and Mary Price

Faun of the Night Flora- created by Pali X Mano (pictured) and Mary Price


By Lori Avery Cummings

Some of the art in FLORA includes Solstice and Assemblage Artist Pali X Mano’s Faun of the Night Flora. Faun is an abstract whimsical and magical creature constructed of bark, living moss, vegetation and wielding a Pan Pipe.Plant Artist and Floral Designer Ruben Pedregon is constructing a living wall made from reused coffee burlap bags, fresh flowers, and succulents.The exhibition also features assemblage work by Judy Nilsen, painting and prints by Lori Avery Cummings, and an installation by Mary Price created with natural materials including twigs, moss and bark.

By Jason Summers

By Jason Summers

Jason Summers will be showing his Flora Frames- unique vessels for various types of flowers, herbs, and house plants. Tara Patrick will be showing fanciful flowers made from rescued paper.

By Tara Patrick

By Tara Patrick

Adam Kopras of Santa Barbara Succulent will display beautiful Succulent Walls and Landscape Designer Terra Edwards will be creating colorful botanical masks.

Botanical Mask by Terra Edwards

Botanical Mask by Terra Edwards

Save the date! FLORA opens on Friday, April 10, from 6:00-8:00 pm and will hang in the AFS Gallery through May 14, 2015.



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