Encinitas Environmental Education Collaborative continues to offer a variety of programs and services
The Encinitas Environmental Education (E3) Collaborative organizations are as busy as ever, despite the pandemic, offering programs and services to children and adults in the Encinitas community. Summer camps are underway through the Ecke YMCA and Coastal Roots Farm, in strict compliance with all safety protocols. Adding new locations and working closely with local government officials, the Y is serving about 400 children each day at three different sites. Families are eager for safe, outdoor activities for their children, and there are waiting lists for several camp programs. In addition to allowing children to play and learn safely, camp helps prepare them for returning to the new, post-COVID school environment. The Y also opened its doors on July 1 under CDC compliance including health, wellness, gymnastics, preschool and aquatic facilities.
The Encinitas Union School District’s current plans call for a full reopening on Aug. 17, with school campuses transformed to meet COVID guidelines. The district also has a contingency hybrid model (part in school and part distance learning) plan to accommodate special and changing circumstances as determined by public health. Since classes went virtual, Farm Lab has been providing fresh, healthy food for Encinitas families. “Bags of Love” were packed with Farm Lab produce and included in food distributions at Ocean Knoll after classrooms closed in March. The food program is continuing through the summer at the Venture Church. In addition, Farm Lab has been feeding young minds with weekly lessons and videos for school families.
Coastal Roots Farm, in addition to offering its on-site Farm Camps this summer, can host virtual field trips with online content to allow schools and other groups to experience the farm and learn online. The working farm is in full operation and expects to produce nearly 50,000 pounds of fresh, organic, nutrient-dense food for the community this year. The food is available for purchase at the on-site pay-what-you-can Farm Stand (up to $30 value at no cost) on Thursdays 12-3 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m.-3 p.m., and distributed at no cost through partnerships with numerous nonprofits, food pantries, and social services agencies addressing the needs of low-income and underserved children, families, seniors, active-duty military and veterans, Holocaust survivors, homebound elderly Native Americans, immigrants, among others.
The San Diego Botanic Garden is open and welcoming members and visitors at the north gate, using an online reservation system to manage attendance numbers. The Garden offers safe and socially-distanced outdoor experiences for people to enjoy the beauty of nature. Tickets and reservations can be made on the Garden’s website (SDBGarden.org) where you can also find at-home botanical activities for the whole family.
Seacrest Village continues to provide around-the-clock care and service to its 250 seniors. Though family visits have been suspended temporarily due to the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases throughout the county, the community’s internal TV station and very popular Zoom program have been a tremendous help in keeping residents connected. Seacrest leadership cannot stress enough the importance of wearing masks and social distancing while at work and in public. It works and can help everyone stay healthy.
The Hive at Leichtag Commons is offering a suite of virtual programming including professional development for community nonprofit organizations as well as arts and culture and farming best practices. The Leichtag Foundation is partnering with a number of regional funders and nonprofits to provide COVID-19 emergency grants and continuing its normal grantmaking.
The San Dieguito Heritage Ranch has transitioned leadership on its board and is looking at fundraising efforts to add another structure on its site.
All of the E3 organizations have used the quarantine time to review their facilities and undertake repair and improvement projects that are difficult to conduct while in full operation. COVID-19 has presented serious challenges and the E3 leadership teams have risen to the task, working hard to ensure continued service where possible, by adapting physical environments, introducing new safety protocols and maintaining the highest levels of quality in staff and services.
The E3 Collaborative includes the Encinitas Union School District Farm Lab, the San Diego Botanic Garden, the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA, Seacrest Village, the Leichtag Foundation, Coastal Roots Farm, and the San Dieguito Heritage Ranch.
For more information, contact Lisa Shaffer, E3 coordinator, at E.Three.Coordinator@gmail.com
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