Santa Monica Mountains environmental science program
Santa Monica Mountains & Channel Islands

School & Group Environmental Science

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Santa Monica Mountains & Channel Islands
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Our overnight environmental science programs in the Santa Monica Mountains offer students the opportunity to engage in inclusive, hands-on learning experiences in Los Angeles’ coastal mountain range. Students explore one of the country's largest urban nation parks, challenge themselves physically, build meaningful relationships, and discover a caring relationship with the natural world. We collaborate with each school or group to ensure their program experience meets their educational goals. 

Due to the significant impacts of the Woolsey Fire, programming is suspended at our Santa Monica Mountains campus. More updates regarding future programming will be shared as they become available. 

Our Program

Sample Day & Activities

Morning: Gather in the dining hall for breakfast, pack backpacks and prepare for the day.

Instructional Day on Trail: Spend the day in small learning groups led by a professional NatureBridge educator. Students engage in collaborative, authentic scientific learning experiences in a safe and supportive environment. These experiences are designed to support NGSS and student’s social and emotional development.

Sample Activities

  • Test water quality in the Arroyo Sequit while learning about environmental issues such as water conservation.
  • Identify native plants and animals while hiking. The park is home to over 1,000 plants, and 500 mammal, bird, reptile, and amphibian species.
  • Explore the secret caves of the Grotto Trail.
  • Use soil moisture meters or nutrient test kits to get a sense of the challenges that specific plant adaptations overcome in this environment.

Afternoon/Early Evening: Return to campus to reflect, relax and unwind while school chaperones supervise. Dinner in the dining hall gives everyone a chance to share their trail stories.

Evening: NatureBridge educators facilitate evening programs that could include a short night hike, stargazing, team challenge, or debate. Students then return to their tents and get ready for bed.

Students spotted butterflies up close

Areas of Study

Life Science & Ecology: Become a real-life ecologist, discover the organisms that call this landscape home, and learn how they interact with the environment.

Watershed Studies: Explore the biotic and abiotic components of the Arroyo Sequit stream while learning about the importance of conserving this critical resource.

Earth Science & Geology: Bring geology to life using the Santa Monica Mountains as your lab! Learn about minerals, rocks and the formation of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Current Environmental Issues: Students are empowered to take action after learning about issues such as climate change and other human impacts on the landscape. Drought, fire, endangered species and conservation of resources are all possible topics.

Our Educators

NatureBridge environmental science educators bring our programs to life. Our skilled and passionate educators provide inclusive and culturally responsive programming that challenges students to step out of their comfort zones and connect to themselves and one another. Our staff have a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent work and training experience, cleared background checks and are certified to manage risk in the field. 

The energy and passion our educators have for engaging with youth and the natural world is a vital element of our success. 


Connect to SCIENCE + NATURE +  SELF AND OTHERS: Students experience personal growth, build interpersonal skills, gain science knowledge, strengthen critical thinking skills and learn to act as environmental stewards. NatureBridge strives to create an impactful and lasting educational program for every student.

My students were able to bring learning to life at NatureBridge. Real life experiences will forever change their relationship with nature, science and the environment.
Kelly N., Teacher at Van Nuys Middle School
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Our Campus

Lodging at Circle X Ranch

tent camping at Circle X

Students stay three to a tent and adults sleep one to a tent. The campsite has running water and is a short walk from showers and bathrooms in an adjacent building. All participants are asked to bring their own linens, including pillows, sleeping bags or sheets and blankets, towels and toiletries. Tents are provided by NatureBridge. 

Dining at Circle X Ranch

Amazing kitchen staff work hard to provide kid- and chaperone-friendly meals to keep our participants fully-charged throughout their program. Breakfast and dinner are served buffet-style in our dining hall, which is shared with all schools on campus. In addition to revolving hot dishes, breakfast and dinner also include a full fruit or salad bar. Lunch is served on trail during the hiking day. Most dietary restrictions, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free can be accommodated. Our meal service is nut-free.

Rates and Availability

Program length: 3-day, 2-night programs offered Monday-Wednesday and Wednesday-Friday January-June. 

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Where to

Find Us

12896 Yerba Buena Road
Malibu, CA, 90265