As the bus climbed through the cloud layer, the dramatic views of the steep granitic slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains came into focus and the eager excitement of the 26 students from Los Angeles River High School embarking on an adventure into the Angeles National Forest became clear. The charred remains of the large trees and shrubs from the 2009 wildfire were still evident, but the vibrant green from the resurgent new growth was everywhere.
Just the day before, the class acted as the test pilots for a new “virtual hike and species challenge” computer program to get to know their wild neighbors by virtually exploring the headwaters of the Los Angeles River in the classroom.
The National Forest Foundation partnered with the Angeles National Forest to launch the virtual hike and species challenge, which was developed by the Get-to-Know organization. The virtual hike for the Angeles National Forest includes narrated tutorials, stories, educational segments about the forest, scavenger hunt style challenges, and a printable, customizable field guide.
The students started their real forest hike high above Los Angeles at Charlton Flats picnic area. After a brief introduction about the National Forest and what to watch for in the woods, they were off on their adventure. The kids enjoyed the deep breaths of clean air, learning about plants and trees, and the opportunity to listen to the calming sounds of the stream next to the trail.
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