Acorns to Oaks

Acorns to Oaks

 

landsmart for kids logoNapa County Resource Conservation District (RCD), Friends of the Napa River (FONR), local landowners, and 5th-12th grade school groups will partner to plant valley oaks and associated understory plants in the Napa Valley. Landowners provide suitable planting locations. School groups plant acorns and tend to seedlings in the late spring. RCD and FONR supervise restoration and place-based learning, including demonstrations of planting and mulching techniques, oak ecology and Napa County’s watersheds.

  • One in-class Oak Ecology lesson
  • Two field trips including oak ecology lessons, acorn planting, and oak seedling monitoring and tending
  • Geared toward middle-age students but can be adjusted to accommodate any age
  • Contact us

Funding for project provided by State Coastal Conservancy, Private Donations, and Friends of the Napa River.

More information for Landowners

Desired planting sites are located in Napa Valley and can accommodate approximately 50 new oak seedlings. 

  • Oaks may be planted along creeks, fence lines, driveways, or among existing groves.
  • RCD and FONR staff will visit with interested land managers to determine if properties are good candidates for the project.

Land managers permit 2 3-hour field trips on their property during the school-year. Land managers are encouraged to participate, but not required to do so.

  • Field Trip 1 will take place in November/December. Students will be supervised by teachers, RCD and FONR staff in planting acorns and ecology lessons. 
  • Field Trip 2 will take place in April/May. Students will be supervised by teachers, RCD and FONR staff in planting oak seedlings and ecology lessons.
  • Prior to field trips, students submit signed waivers indicating that they will not hold landowners liable for incidents that occur during field trips.

Land managers must commit to caring for newly planted seedling for 2-3 years following planting. RCD and FONR staff will be available to provide follow-up consultation regarding tree care.

  • Plants will need protection from weeds for 5 years following planting. Mulching, hand-, or mechanical-weeding are approaches to weed suppression. 

More Information for Student Groups

Acorns to Oaks consists of one classroom presentation and two field trips, as described below. Student groups must commit to participating in all three elements of the program in a single school year.

Classroom presentation: Napa Valley’s Oaks

During the 60-minute presentation students will learn:

  • Dominant types and ecology of oaks in the Napa Valley
  • Role oaks play in supporting biodiversity in the Napa Valley
  • Interwoven history of oaks and communities in the Napa Valley
  • Current status of Napa Valley’s oak woodlands
  • Tips for being good oak tree stewards and restoring oak woodlands in the valley

Presentation will consist of short lectures, interactive discussion, and an active learning activity. The presentation will meet some of the life science and investigation and experimentation objectives of the CA Science Content Standards.

Plant acorns field trip, November/December

Students will visit their oak woodland restoration site to collect acorns from existing trees.  Students will become familiar with oak tree identification and morphology, oak tree reproduction, benefits of planting oak trees at the site, and identifying viable acorns.  Students will return to either the classroom or Martha Walker Garden (in Skyline Park) to plant acorns in pots.  Potted acorns may be stored at the school or at Martha Walker Garden until the second field trip.  Seedlings should emerge from acorns in January or February. 

The field trip will be scheduled for a time suitable for acorn collection (late October to early November) and teacher’s schedule. Field trip will require a minimum of 2 hours in the field.

  • Facilitators provide: lesson plan, instruction, demonstration of restoration techniques, supplies needed for restoration, snack, bus and substitute fees
  • Teachers provide: adult volunteers (maintain a 1:5 adult to student ratio), disciplinary supervision of students

Protect seedlings field trip, April/May

Students return to their oak woodland restoration site to check on acorn germination and care for seedlings. Students will investigate how oak trees support biodiversity in the ecosystem, and understand how humans impact oaks.  Students will learn about plant competition, weeds, and native and nonnative species.

The field trip will be scheduled between late April and end of May. Field trip will require a minimum of 3 hours in the field.

  • Facilitators provide: Lesson plan, instruction, demonstration of restoration techniques, supplies needed for restoration, snack, bus and substitute fees
  • Teachers provide: Adult volunteers (maintain a 1:5 adult to student ratio), disciplinary supervision of students

To schedule the classroom presentation and field trips, contact RCD Education Program Coordinator Eric McKee.

In-Class Experiment Guide

As a complementary resource, we developed an IN-CLASS EXPERIMENT GUIDE that supports Next Generation Science Standards, and will expose students to environmental factors affecting growth and germination of acorns. Contact us if you have questions or need assistance in setting up a classroom experiment, we would be happy to help.

6th – 8th Grade Experiment Guide

Supplement the Experimental Guide with these current reading materials to open a larger discussion about conservation of forests and mixed land use in the Napa Valley.

Conservation Easement Preserves Oaks and Agriculture: Napa Valley Register, June 2014

Today’s Vineyards, Yesterday’s Tall Oaks: New York Times, April 2012