Education Committee Helps Prepare Mangini Ranch Educational Preserve

People hiking

This summer we announced that Mangini Ranch will be opening as a free public educational preserve no later than the end of March 2022.

Since then, we have been hard at work getting things ready. We’ve been doing trail work at the site. We’ve been installing a temporary educational shade structure that will eventually be replaced by a permanent shade structure. And we’ve been designing supporting signage and other infrastructure for the site.

People gathered around picnic table and shade structure at Mangini Ranch

The Education Committee discusses the shade structure in the background. Photo by Sean Burke.

We have continued to make steady progress toward this goal with the help of our terrific and talented Education Committee members, who are an integral part in this project.

Meet the Education Committee

Our Education Committee helps oversee, develop, and promote Save Mount Diablo’s education efforts. It is comprised of Save Mount Diablo Board members and staff, as well as many talented local educators. In addition to our great staff, our Education Committee has the following members:

  • Robert Phelps, PhD—Education Committee Chair, Save Mount Diablo Board member, and Executive Director and Professor at the California State University East Bay Concord Campus
  • Jim Felton, PhD—Save Mount Diablo Board President, formerly worked as a director and scientist at UC Davis and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Dawn Lezak—Teacher at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School
  • Tren Kauzer—Teacher at Campolindo High School
  • Claudia Hein—Save Mount Diablo Board member, and Professor at Diablo Valley College
  • Judy Adler—Environmental educator
  • Achilleus Tiu—Save Mount Diablo Board member, and Teacher at Pittsburg High School
  • Keith Alley, PhD—Save Mount Diablo Board member, and former Professor and Graduate School Dean and Vice Chancellor at the School of Natural Sciences at UC Merced
People hiking

Some members of our Education Committee. Photo by Ted Clement.

Education Committee Helps Develop the Mangini Ranch Free Public Education Preserve

The Education Committee is directly involved with the work of developing our Mangini Ranch public education preserve.

The committee has been hard at work thinking about the design for a permanent educational shade structure for the site. They’ve been developing the types of interpretive signage the site will have.

People hiking

The Education Committee tours Mangini Ranch to better understand where to put educational signage. Photo by Sean Burke.

They’ve been working on creating age appropriate educational curriculum to be available to groups reserving the site in the future. And they’ve been designing the web component where people can learn about the preserve and how to reserve it.

Many of our committee members have commented that Mangini Ranch is an ideal outdoor classroom, because of the lack of intrusions and disruptions from outsiders, among other things. Dawn Lezak says:

“Mangini Preserve is a boundless classroom, away from bells, screens, and timelines. It is a space to slow down and be curious about the details and beauty of nature, to appreciate the local history and a way to understand the importance of maintaining open space. Save Mount Diablo invites visitors of all ages to become inspired by this special place and to learn how to value nature in order to defend and protect it.”

People hiking

The Education Committee hikes through Mangini Ranch to better understand the land. Photo by Ted Clement.

Looking Forward to Outdoor Environmental Education

Mangini Ranch will be open free of charge to a variety of groups pursuing education purposes. These could be high school AP environmental science classes, adult education photography courses, homeowners associations, and outdoor yoga classes, among many other groups.

Interested educational groups will need to fill out an online application to make a reservation for the preserve. Save Mount Diablo staff and Education Committee members are currently working on creating the online application.

People hiking

The Education Committee is hard at work preparing Mangini Ranch. Photo by Sean Burke.

Even More Opportunities at Mangini Ranch

Our Education Committee Chair, Robert Phelps, says:

“Save Mount Diablo’s Mangini Ranch educational preserve is a unique living laboratory in our local urban-wildlands interface, an area where modern suburban developments adjoin protected open space. The preserve will provide an important meeting ground where residents can learn about, and gain an appreciation for, Contra Costa County’s natural areas.”

People gathered around picnic table

Many different groups will benefit from Mangini Ranch. Photo by Ted Clement.

Mangini Ranch will also offer opportunities for people to reconnect with nature. Judy Adler notes:

The opening of the Mangini Preserve is a unique first step in restoring the connection of people and place. It offers private access to a biologically rich and historically interesting site at the heart of the East Bay.

“The educational possibilities of its use are endless! One can renew one’s spirit in a beautiful natural setting at this critical time for all life on earth. Opening this preserve to the public for use by small groups is a truly visionary move on the part of Save Mount Diablo.”

Catching bugs with nets

There will be many opportunities to learn about and connect with the outdoors at Mangini Ranch. Photo by Al Johnson.

Thus, the possibilities and opportunities presented by Mangini Ranch are endless.

We hope that Mangini Ranch will allow more people, especially youth, to have intimate experiences in nature and learn about and gain appreciation for the outdoors. This opportunity is especially critical in a time when, in some ways, we seem to be turning away from nature and forgetting about our connection to the land that we live on.


Top photo by Sean Burke.

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