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April 21, 2002
Science & Conservation
The Springville Nature Center
By Thomas Hobbs, Education Editor

SPRINGVILLE -- The Clemmie Gill School of Science and Conservation is a special educational service of the Tulare County Superintendant of Schools.
    SCICON is the outdoor school of science and conservation operated by the Tulare County Office of Education.
   It is located on 1100 acres above Springville. Last year, the school was visited by over 13,600 fifth- and sixth-grade students for a one-day or week-long experience in outdoor education, natural science and conservation.
     "Nature Girl" Leann!  Leann Alstrom, a SCICON staff member, told Yosemite News reporters the program is a product of 40 years of school and community involvement. "In 1958, Clemmie Gill donated the original 35-acre ranch to Tulare County for use as an educational center for conservation," said Ms. Alstrom. "Since that time, volunteer labor and community support has enabled this state-of-the-art environmental education school to become a model for similar programs throughout the country," she said.
Kids play on SCICON trails     SCICON plays host to its own natural history museum, raptor center, planetarium, observatory, tree farm, and indigenous plant garden. There are over 17 miles of trails, meadows, streams and ponds which adorn this natural campus. Included on the site is an outdoor amphitheater, 20 cabins for student housing, and the spacious John Muir Lodge for group meetings and dining.
    A multi-media educational facility is also available and designed to provide unique and exciting learning experiences for kids.
     The Center is located in the Pacific SouthWest Forest Region area in the Sequoia National Forest 2500 feet above Porterville, Calif.
     On Sunday, April 21, the 42nd annual SCICON Barbecue and Wildflower Festival was held on the campus. It's become a favorite local tradition for Tulare Unified students, their families and the general public. Musical groups from local schools performed live as hungry visitors devoured tasty tri-tip sandwiches from a traditional deep pit barbecue.     Alex and some staff
 Alex Price, casually dressed in jeans, leather belt, and green shirt walked through the crowd toward a large table where cash was being counted and secured by SCICON staff in a large cash-box."Turnout for the Deep Pit BBQ was much more than last year!"
     Rick and other staff showed visitors through the new lodge extension, raptor center and cabin upgrades sponsored by local supporters in Lindsay, Exeter, Porterville, Strathmore, Tulare, and Woodlake.
     After lunch, SCICON staff guided interested visitors on wildflower walks, bird watching, and nature hikes. A dozen or more natural resource agencies also participated with interactive displays geared toward science and conservation insight.

    [ Editor's Note: The surrounding forest environment at SCICON extends from rolling chaparral covered foothills to high alpine peaks on the Sierra Nevada Crest. Vegetation, soils, and wildlife are diverse. National ForestThree major river systems drain the forests. Merced, San Joaquin, and Kings rivers flow westward through deep canyons to the western slopes and the San Joaquin Valley beyond. The forest provides suitable habitat for more than 300 wild life species. Some of these are on the endangered species list. Of particular concern is the peregrine falcon and the bald eagle. The forest contains 1,800 miles of streams and rivers and nearly 500 lakes. The forest contains many cultural resources including archeological, historical and architectural sites and data of value to ethnic groups and researchers. Zane G. Smith, Jr., the Pacific Southwest Region forester informed the Yosemite News that since 1986, cultural resources are considered a nonrenewable resource and receive special attention in planning and conducting forest activities because of Federal legal protection.]

Letter to the Editor

Copyright 1962, 2002 by Yosemite News -

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Nature Notes
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
     -- John Muir, 1901

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