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Encinitas 'Cluster' Becomes a Hub of Environmental Education

L to R: Dr. Timothy Baird, Jim Farley, Susan Hight, Pam Ferris, Roger Bolus, and Julian Duval
L to R: Dr. Timothy Baird, Jim Farley, Susan Hight, Pam Ferris, Roger Bolus, and Julian Duval

Six Encinitas organizations announced their formal collaboration Friday as Partners in the new Encinitas Environmental Education Cluster, or E3 Cluster.

The Encinitas Union School District, Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA, San Diego Botanic Garden, San Dieguito Heritage Museum, Seacrest Village Retirement Communities, and Leichtag Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding on April 4 outlining their agreement to develop educational, experiential learning and multi-generational programs around the nexus of agriculture, horticulture, nutrition, science, sustainability, community building, and the local history and agricultural traditions of Encinitas.

“People are hardwired to connect with plants and nature, and there are many different ways to forge that connection,” said Julian Duval, President/CEO of San Diego Botanic Garden. “Partnering with the other Cluster members, especially with the benefit of our future Education and Events Pavilion, will enable us to offer a greater number and variety of environmentally-based learning opportunities to the community. In fact, we have already benefited from the input of Encinitas Union School District leadership to inform the design of the Pavilion for just that purpose.”

The E3 Cluster Partners are neighboring 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations or government entities framed east-west by Quail Gardens Drive and Saxony Road, and north-south by Leucadia and Encinitas Boulevards.  The group anticipates robust collaboration with additional entities from all sectors, to be known as “Cluster Affiliates.”

Goals of the E3 Cluster include:

  • Preserving and encouraging access to nature;
  • Supporting environmental education, health and well-being for people of all age, background and ability;
  • Developing educational, experiential learning and multigenerational programs including those around the nexus of agriculture, horticulture, nutrition, science, sustainability, community building, local history, and agricultural traditions of Encinitas;
  • Working together on issues that affect the Saxony and Quail Gardens Drive corridors and
  • Leveraging the programs and resources of each Partner to achieve Cluster mutual goals.

“Our schools are seeing the impact of Environmental Education,” said Dr. Timothy Baird, Superintendent of Encinitas Union School District. “Partnering with our neighbors allows us to expand these programs and create new forms of experiential learning.”

Initial collaborations between the E3 Cluster Partners include:

  • SDBG, Seacrest, YMCA, Heritage Museum, and Leichtag Foundation routinely share their parking areas to accommodate each other’s events
  • San Diego Botanic Gardens leases space from Leichtag Foundation for horticultural research.
  • The San Dieguito Heritage Museum is working with Encinitas Union School District on curricular programs in the elementary schools.

“We’re excited to continue and expand collaboration with our neighbors in a more formal way,” said Susan Hight, Executive Director of the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA. “This partnership will provide resources for the youth we serve to enhance their learning of our environment and gain educational tools to better preserve nature.

Leichtag Foundation

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