Tag Archives | Plant Detectives

Prickly Pear cacti can grow quite large under the right conditions!

How Plants Can Be Medicine – Canot Walker

High Trails is located at 7000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountain Range, and one of the first topics we learn about in Team Discovery Hike is who lived here before us. The Yuhaviatam arrived in Southern California approximately 2,500 years ago, and lived off the land until European influence arrived in the 18th century. […]


Seed Dispersal of the Black Oak – Davíd Valencia

Did you know that one of the largest populations of all Black Oak trees in southern California is in the San Bernardino National Forest? 1 High Trails is surrounded by these majestic beings and we get to view the their colorful beauty. The Black Oak, like all other plants, needs the help of biotic and […]


Non-flowering Plant Reproduction: Conifers – Ryne Tobar

Of the classes I get to teach at High Trails, my favorite is Plant Detectives. Plants are incredible organisms. While they might be immobile, plants are able to propagate, or reproduce, far beyond their immediate vicinity. When I ask about plant reproduction many of my students think of flowers. For flowers, a pollinator such as […]

Environmental Studies

A Shrinking Desert Paradise: Joshua Trees – Nicholas Spinelli

In the culture of the American southwest, it could be said that Joshua Trees enjoy something akin to celebrity status. The deserts of California are filled with them. Their image now adorns t-shirts, stickers, and signs. There are roads named Joshua Tree. There is a town named Joshua Tree. There is, of course, even a […]


Leaves Have A Color and Reason for Each Season – Rose Riordan

Every autumn in designated areas in the northern hemisphere, trees prepare for winter, just as the creatures in the forest are getting ready. The diminishing hours and falling temperatures enable the trees to shed billions of leaves; the spectacular show of vibrant colors show throughout the landscape. These shades include yellow, orange, and red. What […]


Teach with Magic…on the Magic School Bus – Meghan Barrett

“Fee fi fo fum, only plants chow down on air, water, and sun.” These are the words of that eccentric science teacher we all know and love, Ms. Frizzle. From her supernatural approach to her quirky behavior, she has changed the lives of students and teachers across the globe in the classic television show, The […]


Hiking with a USFS Botanist – Jaimie Spetseris/Mark Lisak

Working at an outdoor science school in the San Bernardino Mountains has some perks. Aside from hiking in the forest, teaching students about nature, coexisting in a healthy world, breathing fresh mountain air, and going on weekend adventures, we also get to learn about the forest from true professionals. For once, WE got to be […]


What it Means to be an Evergreen – Shannon Lowes

As an instructor at High Trails Outdoor Science School, I get asked a lot of questions from curious students. If I do not know the answer, I will do some research to both further educate them and myself. “Why do evergreen trees have needles?” A student asked me during a hike this past fall. The […]

A big, beautiful, and now brown-needled ponderosa pine.

The Rise of the Pine Beetle – Benjamin Feinson

Every week, one or more of my students will discover intricate mazes and pathways chewed through dead pine branches on the forest floor. I use this discovery to teach my students how just one seemingly small factor can tip the scale and generate massive change. These tiny lines on logs are evidence of a great […]

The Martian

Can A Mars Movie Make You A Better Teacher? Arthur Tuttle

In the recent Hollywood blockbuster, The Martian, director Ridley Scott focuses his view on potential living conditions for humans on Mars. The movie follows the Ares III astronaut crew as they explore Mars and take samples for analysis from the red planet. A sudden storm forces evacuation, but one astronaut doesn’t make it to the […]


The Snow Plant That Doesn’t Photosynthesize – Emily Hermes

The Snow Plant is rumored to have been a favorite plant of John Muir. I, too, share that fascination with this plant/parasite, not just for its bizarre appearance, but also for its interesting process of acquiring nutrients. To start, the plant is distinguishable by its physical characteristics. Snow Plants have often been described by my […]


DIY! Build Your Own Forest – Alex Eisenreich

What do you get when you combine the efficiency of a car assembly line with a tree hugger? It’s not a robo-hippie; it’s Afforrestt. Founded by Subhendu Sharma, Afforrestt is a company with one mission: “to exponentially increase forest cover by actively conducting and contributing to afforestation activities worldwide.” 1 What is afforestation? Not to […]

white fir_774x518

Why Plants Are Important – Caroline Burdick

Did you know that this state is so large, so diverse, and geographically varied that over 5,800 plant species can call California home? This is about the same as all other states combined! We also have over 2,100 endemic species in California, which means they cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The unique ecosystems that boast this […]


Hot Tamale Chile Peppers – Caroline Blake

“Really? Birds don’t have a sense of smell?” I asked during a Plant and Animal Interactions class in college. My professor was ready for this question. “Nope, and I will explain why. Let’s talk about chili plants and birds”. If the purpose of fruit is to be eaten for seed dispersal then why is the […]


The Other Oak Tree- Dawn Cook

“You know everything, you’re a teacher!” In my 15+ years of teaching, I have heard that too many times to count. Know everything? No way…just the other day my knowledge came into question. I was tagging along with a student group hiking out to Jenks Lake. The instructor was stopping every so often to show […]

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