Environmental Living Program at Tomales Bay

Environmental Living Program Overview

California State Parks is proud to offer the Environmental Living Program (ELP) at several of its parks throughout the state.  As the name suggests, ELP is an overnight program in which students experience, first-hand, the interactions between historical cultures and their local environment.   For this reason, ELP will be different at every site, but the objective is the same: by recreating and engaging in some of the environmental tasks and problems of the past, students may be able to better manage their present-day responsibilities.

The ELP at Tomales Bay provides the opportunity for students to explore the values, technologies and skills of the Coast Miwok in the millennia before European contact.  Traditional Coast Miwok life was dependent on sophisticated knowledge of the natural environment.  Deep knowledge and respect of their land forms the basis for traditional and contemporary Coast Miwok culture.  Participation in the Tomales Bay ELP helps students to gain greater appreciation of California native culture; ultimately, it may also lead students to discover and understand their own relationship to their environment.

Tomales Bay’s ELP relies heavily on pre-site exploration and preparations, role playing and problem solving.  In the classroom, teachers work with students to research Coast Miwok culture in preparation for their overnight at the park.  Math combines with health, history and the language arts as students research multiple aspects of native culture including language, foods, dress, games and education.

At the park, classroom communities of students, teacher and parent/guardian aides spend 24 hours working, eating, sleeping and playing as the Coast Miwok people did for thousands of years.  The responsibility of choosing roles and deciding how to complete a series of tasks builds collaborative problem-solving skills and a sense of accomplishment in addition to a more profound understanding of native traditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What grade level may participate?
The Tomales Bay ELP is designed for 4th and 5th grade students.

What is the cost for participating in the Tomales Bay ELP?
The program fee is $250.00 per class. Additionally, there is a fee for all Teacher Training Workshop participants that is used to cover workshop food and supply costs. This fee is $40 per teacher and $25 per parent / aide.

When do the overnights occur?
For the 2019-2020 school year, overnights will occur on Thursdays/Fridays beginning on September 19th. Dates are available in Fall 2019 only.

What is the ELP class application and selection process?
For the 2019-2020 school year, we will likely be able to accommodate up to 6 classes. Classes will be selected by lottery and will be assigned dates at random for their ELP overnight. Once dates are assigned by park staff, teachers will confirm their desire to participate and fees will be deposited.   Fee payment in full secures the reservation.

What is the minimum and maximum number of people who may attend the overnight?
One class (minimum of 10 and maximum of 32 students) per overnight night may participate. The total number of people (including students, teachers and aides) attending the overnight session at Tomales Bay State Park shall not exceed 40 due to safety regulations and sensitivity of the site’s natural resources.

What is the Teacher / Aide Training Workshop?
Teachers who have not participated in the Tomales Bay ELP within the last two years are required to attend the training workshop. Parents, and aides are strongly encouraged to attend. The one workshop for this year’s program will be held on September 14th & 15th, 2019. The workshop will begin at 9:30 am on Saturday and will end on Sunday at 11:00am. Participants in the workshop will be trained in the traditional Miwok technologies and skills such as cordage, basketry, and other activities, that they will then teach to their students. Meals and snacks will be provided during the workshop.

How many adults must attend the ELP overnight?
The participation of parent aides is critical to a successful ELP. A park staff member or volunteer will welcome the class to the park site, but does not participate in the activities there.   The teacher and parent aides are thus fully responsible for general oversight, leading skills training, supervising food preparation and ensuring the safety of the students while at Tomales Bay State Park. A ratio of one adult per five students is recommended. The ELP program depends on the support of teachers and parent aides, but is to be directed by the students themselves once at the park.

What is provided by California State Parks?

  • Clean and safe site for Tomales Bay ELP overnight activity
  • Equipment and materials for basketry, pump drills, grinding (traditional stone mortar and pestle), cordage
  • Cooking supplies: A complete set of cookware and serving dishes is available at the site
  • Firewood, fire lighting supplies, and a fire pit/bbq
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Meals for paid participants at the teacher training workshop
  • ELP Resource Handbook (1 per teacher, additional copies $15)

What is supplied by schools?

  • Transportation to and from Tomales Bay State Park.
  • Food (typically two lunches, one dinner and a breakfast) and consumable cooking supplies (i.e. tin foil, paper towels, ice)
  • Sleeping equipment (sleeping bags, sleeping pads, tarps, tents)
  • Costumes (optional)

Whom do I contact for more information?
Ranger Nick Turner: Nicholas.Turner@parks.ca.gov | 415-669-1140