Carmel Valley students present unique Carmel Mountain Preserve findings

By Gloria Limas An

Students at Ocean Air Elementary in Carmel Valley presented their unique year-long research findings on the Carmel Mountain Preserve. Twenty-seven fourth graders walked portions of the 300-acre preserve every Friday for the entire school year with their teacher, parent guides and, at times, a city park ranger. The study was led by fourth grade teacher and science enthusiast Tanya Lubomudrov.

The research included learning about plant and animal identification, preservation, vernal pool monitoring, rainfall data and much more. Located on the northern side of Carmel Mountain Road and the Los Penasquitos Canyon, the preserve is home to many unique plants and animals. It acts as a wildlife corridor connecting the coastal area with the open lands to the east. Many species rely on the preserve for shelter and water such as the California gnatcatcher, garter snakes, roadrunners, deer and coyotes.

City of Diego Senior Park Ranger Gina Washington says the preserve has four distinct vegetation communities in addition to the very sensitive vernal pool habitat which is being preserved. The habitat is home to rare species such as the San Diego fairy shrimp and the Western spade-foot toad.

“The Carmel Mountain Preserve has many endangered plants and animals, as well as the largest last remaining southern maritime chaparral in the world,” Washington said. “One of the most rewarding portions of this research is seeing how the students grow with their understanding of the preserve and their enthusiasm towards what they’ve learned.”

Lubomudrov traveled to St. Louis, Miss., in May to present the research findings on the preserve at a National Science Teachers Association STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) conference. Educators from across the country were present to promote STEM education in the classroom.

Participating fourth grade students included Danny An, Julia Baki, Ryan Bouzan, Max Cassett, Grace Daniels, Mason Eastlack, Jenna Howell, Calvin Hsu, Kevin Li, Henry Li, Rachel Liu, Lucas Liu, Zoe Ludena, Victoria Li, Paul Marlowe, Cian Matthews-Schott, Maxwell Moon, Danielle Moraga, Henry Ojeda, Richard Shi, Taylor Shimizu, Joseph Stack, Sophia Tech, Isabel Teren, Jake Troxler, Rachel Xu, Ehsun Yazdani.

Lubomudrov says she is already planning projects for the next year. One includes sending eggs via mail cross country to a class who sends eggs in return. The goal is to accomplish the most successful packaging, with parameters, to send an egg via mail without breaking. She plans to Skype the other class and open the packages at the same time. Lubomudrov adds that she is very grateful to the project support from Ocean Air Elementary Principal Ryan Stanley.

More information on the Carmel Mountain Preserve can be found at