High school students participate in Santa Cruz Island field study
From The Vine
–Twenty high school students enrolled in Santa Cruz Island Fall Field Biology, an extension of the science department, spent part of their break conducting long term botanical surveys on Santa Cruz Island.
In October, PRHS students worked in the intertidal zone at Rancho Marino UC Reserve in Cambria to prepare for this exciting opportunity. The four day trip began with an unprecedented visit to Painted Cave. Located on the northwest coast of the island, Painted Cave is the deepest sea cave on Earth, and PRHS students got a close up look as the boat entered the first 100 feet of the cave and remained there for 20 minutes allowing all aboard to feel its grandeur and immensity. The boat then landed at Prisoner’s Harbor, and the island adventure truly began.
PRHS students conducted research on three different botanical studies including an island-wide vegetation study, and special, targeted studies of Bishop pines and purple needlegrass. These projects require students know numerous plants by both common and scientific name, use of a handheld compass and numerous other field research tools. Students collected data on plant density, species type, and health status. The three studies are part of Paso Robles High’s ongoing efforts to monitor the health of the plant communities on the island.
Students also presented their own research projects on a wide range of topics relevant to the biology of the island. There was also enough time to hike Mt. Diablo, the highest peak on the island, and to spend an afternoon playing frisbee on Sauces beach.
Santa Cruz Island Fall Field Biology is part of the PRHS Field Studies Collaborative program which provides students the opportunity to conduct real-world science outside the classroom. The next course students can apply for is “Joshua Tree Climate Change Field Biology”. Applications will be available in late January. The 5 day trip is over spring break.