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Environmental Living Program at Tomales Bay

Environmental Living Program Overview

California State Parks is proud to offer the Environmental Living Program (ELP) at several of its parks throughout the state.  As the name suggests, ELP is an overnight program in which students experience, first-hand, the interactions between historical cultures and their local environment.   For this reason, ELP will be different at every site, but the objective is the same: by recreating and engaging in some of the environmental tasks and problems of the past, students may be able to better manage their present-day responsibilities. 

The ELP at Tomales Bay provides the opportunity for students to explore the values, technologies and skills of the Coast Miwok in the millennia before European contact.  Traditional Coast Miwok life was dependent on sophisticated knowledge of the natural environment.  Deep knowledge and respect of their land forms the basis for traditional and contemporary Coast Miwok culture.  Participation in the Tomales Bay ELP helps students to gain greater appreciation of California native culture; ultimately, it may also lead students to discover and understand their own relationship to their environment.

Tomales Bay’s ELP relies heavily on pre-site exploration and preparations, role playing and problem solving.  In the classroom, teachers work with students to research Coast Miwok culture in preparation for their overnight at the park.  Math combines with health, history and the language arts as students research multiple aspects of native culture including language, foods, dress, games and education.  

At the park, classroom communities of students, teacher and parent/guardian aides spend 24 hours working, eating, sleeping and playing as the Coast Miwok people did for thousands of years.  The responsibility of choosing roles and deciding how to complete a series of tasks builds collaborative problem-solving skills and a sense of accomplishment in addition to a more profound understanding of native traditions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What grade level may participate?
The Tomales Bay ELP is designed for 4th and 5th grade students. 

What is the cost for participating in the Tomales Bay ELP?
The program fee is $225.00 per class.  Additionally, there is a fee for all Teacher Training Workshop participants that is used to cover workshop food and ELP supply costs. This fee is $25 per participant.

When do the overnights occur?

For the 2015-2016 school year, overnights will occur on Thursday/Friday in the fall and spring: September - October and March - May.

What is the ELP class application and selection process?
For the 2015-2016 school year we are currently registering returning classes from the 2014-2015 school year.  Each teacher will provide a list of school holidays and other dates which would not work for their group.  Park staff will assign a date to each school by the end of June 2015.  Payment of fees in full will secure the reservation.

What is the minimum and maximum number of people who may attend the park overnight?
One class (minimum of 10 and maximum of 32 students) per overnight night may participate.  The total number of people (including students, teachers and aides) attending the overnight session at Tomales Bay State Park shall not exceed 40 due to safety regulations and sensitivity of the site’s natural resources.

What is the Teacher Training Workshop?
Because only returning classes are being invited to participate in the 2015-2016 Tomales Bay ELP, attendance at the Teacher/Parent Training Workshop will be optional.  Parent aides are strongly encouraged to attend to (re)learn skills that they will teach to students.   At the workshop, teachers and aides will be trained in traditional Miwok technologies such as cordage and basketry.  There is only one workshop for the school year which will be held on September 19, 2015. The workshop begins Saturday morning and will conclude after dinner that same day. .

How many adults must attend the ELP overnight?
The participation of parent aides is critical to a successful ELP overnight.  A park staff member will welcome the class to the park site, but does not participate in the activities there.  The teacher and parent aides are thus fully responsible for leading skills activities, supervising food preparation and ensuring the safety of the students while at Tomales Bay State Park.  A ratio of one adult per five students is recommended.  More adults than this may detract from students’ ability to rely upon their own abilities.  The ELP program depends on the support of teachers and parent aides, but is to be directed by the students themselves.

What is provided by the California State Parks?
* Clean and safe site for Tomales Bay ELP overnight activity
* Teacher Training Workshop and ELP Resource Handbook
* Equipment and Materials: Obsidian for flintknapping; materials for basketry; pump drills; traditional stone mortar and pestle
* Cooking supplies: A complete set of cookware and serving dishes is available at the site; firewood will be provided
* Cleaning supplies

What is supplied by schools?
* Transportation to and from Tomales Bay State Park.
* Food (typically two lunches, one dinner and a breakfast) and consumable cooking supplies (i.e. tin foil, paper towels, ice)
* Sleeping equipment (sleeping bags, sleeping pads, tarps)
* Costumes (optional)

Whom do I contact for  more information?
Derek Shelly (415) 488-9897