(Santa Barbara, CA) NatureTrack brings on Abby Pickens to be the new Program Manager for their “Fostering a Lifelong Fascination with Nature” outdoor field trip program which introduces school children to nature by way of the bountiful trails and beaches in Santa Barbara County. Abby will be coordinating the trips with the teachers, helping them decide which location best serves the classroom curriculum the docents can emphasize. Abby also oversees the docent program from recruiting, training, and all communications necessary to coordinate the field trips. The docents are a key ingredient in NatureTrack’s great track record. “The docents are so amazing. They make every trip special for the students, and for me,” said Abby.
All the trips are filled up for this year, however, there is a waiting list and should a trip cancel NatureTrack will offer that date to the next class on the list. Reservations for the 2022-23 school year will open August 1st.
Pickens is a fourth generation Colorado girl. Born on a cattle ranch in the SW corner of the state, the youngest of four girls. Her parents encouraged them all to get outside. Two of her older sisters are ranchers now. When asked about her hobbies they all involved things that ended with ‘ing.’ She replied with a big smile, “I love hiking, biking, running, ocean swimming, surfing.” Then commenting quietly, “Well, I’m working on standing up but I’m a great paddler. I’ve always been super outdoorsy,” she said. “Santa Barbara really launched me back to the great outdoors again.” She sat forward and said, “This job is exposing me to so many new trails especially in the Valley. I just love hiking with the kids and listening to the docents’ ideas.” She also noted new and free classes at the library as another exciting aspect of living here. Abby is also a pet sitter and dog walker.
She has an Associate Degree in Health Services and is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Goleta School District brought her here two and a half years ago to work with special education students. Sue met Abby when she was working at the Goleta School District. She was assigned to help with a young man who must use a wheelchair while he was trying out the Freedom Trax at the Arroyo Hondo Reserve for NatureTrack’s doc, “The Accessible Outdoors.” The Freedom Trax device is giving NatureTrack a new group of people to connect with nature. Wheelchair users can now experience nature up close again with this new program and senior living centers are also on the list for the Freedom Trax since so many seniors are in wheelchairs or may no longer be able to safely navigate beach sand or trails.
For more info on NatureTrack Foundation and the important work it does connecting people to nature call (805) 886-2047 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
NatureTrack is a 501(c)3 non-profit which provides outdoor docent-led field trips during the usual school day for Santa Barbara County children at no cost to the schools or students, utilizing local trails and beaches throughout north and south county. NatureTrack’s mission is two-fold: to encourage students to embrace our natural world with respect and wonder, inspiring them to be stewards of our natural resources, and prepare school-aged students with the attitudes, leadership skills, and habits for lifelong learning. Founded in 2011, more than 28,000 students have had a chance to experience a NatureTrack docent-led outdoor field trip.
Recently NatureTrack expanded its’ mission of connecting kids to nature and is now connecting people who use wheelchairs of all ages to get out into nature using Freedom Trax. This device quickly changes a manual wheelchair into a battery powered, all-terrain vehicle which can easily traverse sand and trails. Now NatureTrack docents, students, and teachers who use a wheelchair can join classes on nature trips using Trax. https://naturetrack.org. NatureTrack is expanding its’ reach up to San Luis Obispo and down to Ventura County with the Trax program. Thanks go to the grantors including: UCSB’s Coastal Fund, California State Coastal Conservancy, Parks California ‘Route to Parks’ grant and the Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund.
Photo Caption: Abby Pickens, named NatureTrack’s new Program Manager. She was at Goleta beach next to the organization’s van for a Freedom Trax outing which gave three senior citizens who are wheelchair users a chance to get out on the beach. Freedom Trax gives NatureTrack a new population to connect with nature. Nature is so restorative.
Next event with Freedom Trax is May 15 at Goleta Beach from 12 – 4 pm.