Kindergarten Students Get an Early Butterfly Education

Publisher: Pacifica Tribune
Reporter: Adam Steinhauer

By The time Barbara Kelloy's Portola School kindergarten class has reached the fourth grade, many of the endangered species native to San Bruno Mountain may no longer be there.

With that in mind, Kelley decided to buck the current frend in education of not teaching children about endangered species until the fourth grade, at thie earliest.

Kelley, a longtime Linda Mar resident, took advantage of the near by San Bruno Mountain as a perfect outdoor classroom to culminate a lesson in endangered species.

The mountain is home to the San Bruno Elfin, Mission Blue and San Francisco Silverspot butterflies, as well as the San Francisco Campion flower.

Kelley said she feels children in kindergarten are at an ideal age to learn about endangered species. "They're not ready to be jaded. They're ready to just soak it all in," she explained. "I think that I'm really instilling a love of nature in them."

Kelley is so convinced of this that she currently is putting together, for the use of other kindergarten teachers, a lesson plan and reading list for a unit about endangered species.

The class's field trips to San Bruno Mountain late last month were guided by David Schooley, head of Bay Area Mountain Watch. Bay Area Mountain Watch is an environmental group opposed to the Habitat Conservation Act, which would allow developers to build on the habitats of endangered species as long as part of the habitat is preserved. The group considers the HCA to be a serious threat to wildlife on San Bruno Mountian, according to its literature.

Schooley has been leading hikes on San Bruno Mountain for the last 20 years.

Kelley's class was divided into three groups of nine or 10 students for the trip, with each group going on a different day. The children were driven to a spot near the top of the mountain where they could see many of the valleys, canyons, and communities that surround the mountain. From there, Schooley guided them on a hike. allowing them to see some of the endangered species native to San Bruno Mountain.

But the part of the tour that seemed to impress the children the most, Kelley said, was their lunch break at the Indian shell mound. The mound is a pile of remains of the shellfish Indians collected from the bay to eat. It marks a fairly well preserved Indian habitat, and the children listened attentively to Schooley's account of the Indians' activities in different parts of the area.

Schooley also showed the children otheer archeological finds from tlie area that were used by the region's Indians. "The kids sat right there where the Indians were and ate their lunch," said Kelley.

The mound, one of only three left in the Bay Area, is scheduled to be paved over by a quarry company that owns the land, Kelley said.

Kelley said her students' attentiveness to Schooley's talk and the observat ion of details they showed in the pictures of San Bruno Mountain she had them draw afterwards indicated to her the field trips were successful.

An interesting consequence of the trip, Kelley reported, was the education of many of the children's parents. A number of them, according to Kelley, "had no idea" about the situation on Sa Bruno Mountain.