Docents, volunteers and supporters joined NatureTrack founder Sue Eisaguirre on May 27 at Zaca Creek Ranch to mark the organization’s 10th anniversary and “celebrate those who have contributed to the success of NatureTrack,” a spokeswoman said.

NatureTrack, headquartered in Los Olivos, provides free outdoor field trips to kindergarten through 12th grade students as a supplement to classroom studies.

Event guests were treated to music from O.n.E. as they mingled beneath the canopy of oaks, nibbling appetizers and sipping wine and beer, visiting the resident alpacas and llamas, reading thank-you letters from schoolchildren and teachers, and watching a film of photos from the organization’s first 10 years.

Among those honored were Catalina Kett, the first recipient of the $5,000 NatureTrack Nancy Stearns Scholarship, and Sam Babcock, who was chosen to receive the Dan Conaway Docent of the Year Award for outstanding service.

Catalina graduated from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Friday and will attend High Point University in North Carolina this fall.

Conaway's widow, Margee Lennard, presented Babcock with a hand-painted gourd containing messages of appreciation, known only to recipients, from former winners of the award.

Ten-year pins were presented to 20 volunteers and docents, and five-year pins were given to another 17.

Eisaguirre also used the occasion to announce a new program called NewTracks that will enable people who use wheelchairs or have other mobility challenges to participate in NatureTrack field trips using a Freedom Trax unit.

She said the unit quickly transforms a manual wheelchair into a battery-powered all-terrain vehicle that can traverse beach sand and trails.

Eisaguirre launched NatureTrack after working at the UCSB Sedgewick Reserve as the outreach and K-12 coordinator to provide a cost-free outdoor field trip program for all kindergarten through 12th grade students that would supplement classroom studies.

Six years later, she started the NatureTrack Film Festival to present the best international nature films and serve as a sustainable funding source for the program.

NatureTrack provided 600 students with an outdoor experience its first year and now reaches nearly 5,000 students annually, the spokeswoman said.

Since its launch, more than 25,000 students have experienced a NatureTrack docent-led hike on local trails and beaches throughout northern and southern Santa Barbara County, she said.

23 stories explaining the Central Coast's history, landscape, and traditions from Judith Dale

Judith Dale has written several columns highlighting the culture, geography and history of the Central Coast. Get better acquainted with our beautiful slice of California with this collection of her work. 

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We have the perfect setting for fires: thousands of acres of wilderness with rugged terrain and few roads; rainy winter weather that allows grass and brush to grow, followed by months of hot, dry weather; prevailing winds as well as sundowner winds; and people, who are the cause of most fires.

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At one time, Hollister and his partners, the Dibblee Brothers, owned all the land between Refugio Beach and Point Conception. They owned all the land grants around Point Concepcion, the Ortega family’s Refugio Grant, the La Purisima Mission lands and the San Julian Ranch.

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We often overlook and take for granted the importance of the river to our past development and more importantly to our future development and quality of life.

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Judith Dale looks back to 1920, offering a timeline of progress the U.S. has made over the last 100 years. In most areas such as life expectancy, industry, technology, and position in the world, the U.S. has come a long way. However, many of the social/cultural challenges the country faced in the 1920s, are still with us today.

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