Bioregional Education Program:
San Francisco Bay Area
Planet Drum Foundation’s Bioregional Education Program includes
educational and hands-on components. It is conducted in partnership with
local environmental organizations. Our field trips and workshops guide
teachers and their students exploring and learning about an ecological
site, and then do hands-on work there. The program provides a whole
systems (bioregional) approach to identifying and understanding Northern
California's unique ecological qualities. Emphasis is on:
- observation of natural characteristics,
- discussion of the interrelationships of natural systems,
- exploring what makes Northern California distinct, and
- hands-on restoration work.
Participants gain an understanding of what we must do, individually
and collectively, to restore and maintain healthy natural systems in San
Francisco and the Bay Area. After an introduction to the site, the
workshop provides hands-on practical experience.
Some of the partners and sites include:
- Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ) restoration work at
Yosemite Slough and Candlestick Point,
- San Francisco Ecology Center’s restoration and gardening in
Islais Creek, and
- San Bruno Mountain Watch’s education and restoration work on
San Bruno Mountain
Bioregional Education Program Coordinator/Naturalist:
Steven ("Brother Nature") Noixium Berrios
Steven has been teaching about Bioregions, Deep Ecology and
Environmental Justice as a field Naturalist/Science Teacher for more
than 25 years. He has a Masters degree in Science Education and a
Bachelor of Science in Recreation. Steven enjoys hiking, playing music,
wildlife viewing, animal tracking, nature art, map making, Native
American stories of myths and legends, baseball, ping pong, pool, his
family, and creek habitat restoration. His favorite places to be out in
nature are Yosemite National Park and the beaches right here in San
- I am hopeful that more people will take the time to learn about
nature and ecology and get involved in restoration work. Not only
get involved but go deeper. Shut off your TV and go outside and look
- Memorable sights I’ve seen while being outdoors: The planet
Venus going down on the western horizon illuminating the waters of
the Pacific Ocean with vivid electrifying colors, a snow storm in
Lake Tahoe, Coyote yelping in Glen Canyon Park, and the view from
the top of half dome in Yosemite was not too bad.
If you’d like a field trip or workshop at a specific site, let us
know and we’ll see about arranging it. For more information call Planet
Drum Foundation, (415) 285-6556 or email us at:
Noixiums Environmental Justice Curriculum:
A bioregion is a distinct area with coherent and interconnected plant
and animal communities, and natural systems, often defined by a
watershed. A bioregion is a whole "life-place" with unique requirements
for human inhabitation so that it will not be disrupted and injured. We
do this by taking a natural history hike and reflecting on maps that we
make. Connecting humans with animals to plants, to place.
What is an Environmental Issue?
From the Environmental Justice files, participants will be introduced to
an array environmental literature. They read up on a subject/topic that
they feel connected to. Example: Recycling, composting, exotic plant
removal, exotic plants and animals in ecosystems etc. Participants will
design new ways and theories for taking care of the problem they pick.
When everyone has their solution we break up into pods of for to 5
people and share what the problem is, why we chose this environmental
problem and what we could do about it.
Who said “Only you can prevent forest fires.” That was Smokey the Bear
(known country wide). Or how about, “Give a hoot and don’t pollute”.
That was the owl. This activity will give participants the opportunity
to come up with catchy slogans along with a mascot that delivers the
message to give to people that will help solve some of today's
Bioregional Mapping (Neighborhood Survey)
Using the neighborhood survey key, participants will draw their cities
in which they live in. On those maps, key areas such as habitat
restoration sites, open space areas, toxics taking charge, creeks in
proximity to ones dwelling will be emphasized.
The Ecology Action Strategic Plan
In this workshop participants are guided towards creating sound
solutions to environmental and ecological problems by following a
written formula. They can either work solo or in groups. Through a
brainstorm session they gain knowledge on how to move forward with
projects. The formula can change lives for the better.
After a brainstorm session on what is
working for us today in our ecology, participants are then asked to
think of future energy sources that can help us sustain society. For
example: permanent agriculture gardens, wind power, human power getting
off the grid. The group provides several examples. These are drawn on
a big board. The group then reflects and comes up with utopia. This is
a two ½ hour or more program. Participants can work solo or in groups
up to four. A modern day city is then drawn. We conclude with question
and answer session.
Brother Natures Deep Ecology Curriculum:
The Listening Council
In the community circle the group engages in question and answer
session. Topics of discussion could include the meanings behind
environmental quotes from the likes of John Muir, Joanna Macy, the
Native Americans etc. Each participant will have an opportunity to have
a chance to talk and more importantly - listened too.
Council of All Beings
In this exercise participants are asked to feel compassion and empathy
for another life form other than human. They make allies with plant,
animals, ocean, air, or anything in the Natural environment and they
speak for that entity. What would this animal or plant tell humans if
it had a chance? Hopefully we are wiser and better than before?
The Wheel of Life
This is a collective art exhibit. Everyone in the group will be given a
piece of paper. On this paper there’s an arrow that points towards a
direction. Participants are to look through various magazines and cut
out pictures words, and paste them within their individual paper. They
are to think of their piece as a statement of who they are and their
reverence for life. Once everyone is ready/ finished with their piece –
we then paste them together and view the masterpiece. We of course
follow with Deep Ecological discussions.
Food, Space, Water, and Shelter – these are the things that all
creatures need in order to survive. What happens when they don’t get
their environmental justice? This course we discuss wildlife. We talk
about our wildlife heritage and the difference between conservation and
preservation. We don’t think about it much but what are the
requirements for survival if you’re a wild animal?
The Bat House Builders Workshop
Bats are our allies. They help us in so many ways. Some bat species
can eat 1000 mosquitoes in one night. Their guano (droppings) is some
of the most nutrient rich natural fertilizer on the planet. Life
without them would be hard for us humans. In this workshop we learn
about several bat species and build finely constructed bat houses.
Later we’ll find great places to put them in. (Riparian Zones)
Dip and discover the world of Aquatic biology. We will be using dip
nets, trays, magnifiers, and writing journals. Did you know that some
insects are indicators of water health? Some breath through gills like a
fish. Why is it that amphibians are indicators of environmental health?
We will be making interesting observations such as this as we learn
about the intricate web of life in the water.
Why do they call an insect an insect? Some are decomposers, some are
pollinators, and some are predators. They belong to a group of animals
called Arthropoda. They have segmented bodies and exoskeletal shells.
They are millipedes, centipedes, crustaceans, arachnids. In this
workshop, we use boxes, capture creatures, study them and release them
back safely into their environment.
What lives underneath the rocks and in the water in the intertidal zone?
We might find crabs, anemones, mussels, barnacles, and an incredible
array of biodiversity. After a debrief on natural history of marine
organisms (journal activity), we venture into the delicate ecosystem to
study the creatures within.
pattern, shape, size, and toes. This is what the tracker
knows. In this workshop, we will be looking for animal tracks in the
sand or mud surface. After a little journaling, we will lay down plaster
of paris which is a powder that when mixed with water makes hard rock
mold. This is a way wild life biologist can determine which species of
animals are utilizing an area.
Least Tern decoy workshop
The Sterna antillerum brownii was taken off
the endangered species list recently. It is still threatened due to the
lost of habitat. Through the efforts of the decoy workshop, we were able
to help repopulate the species. However, bird figures are easy to do
with wire, paper, tape, mesh, and paint. You can recreate the bird of
Native Ways Workshops:
Myths and Legends Storytelling
In this workshop, every good story has a beginning, a middle, an end,
and a moral. Hear Brother Nature tell a few stories about Native
American Myths and Legends. Afterwards, we break up into little pods and
team-build our own creation myths and legends.
Tule Technology of the California Indians
Tule is a marshland plant. It is considered sacred to this day by many
Native American tribes. It was given to the people by the Great Spirit.
It is used to make boats, shoes, hats, decoys, rope, houses and
several other uses. Today we learn about Tule and its uses. We will
learn how to twine rope, make a tule totem, small bundle for small boat
and bird decoys.
Rituals of the River Clan
In this workshop participants will take part in several Native American
Activities: Participants will take part in humanitarian bead ceremony,
hear and learn stories of myth and legends, make an Abalone shell
necklace the Miwok way and taste edible foods of the forest and learn
native California Indian dances and songs.
Earth Warrior Ritual
Participants will team up with one of their peers. Four questions are
asked. While answering, one person takes notation and writes down the
responses to those questions. Once one person is finished with their
responses, we then switch and the same question are asked and written
down. These responses will be sealed in an envelope and sent to them at
a later date.
Owl Pellet and Medicine Shield Workshop – Where Science Meets Spirit.
Owl pellets are the discarded remains of the small animals that the owl
has eaten. Instead of the bones and fir digesting, they get compacted
in the owls chest cavity where muscles separate the food from the fir
and bones. A pellet forms and is regurgitated out (Not Scat). This
pellet tells the story of what animals are in a given area. We’ll
dissect these pellets and talk about carrying capacity and food sources
of owls. Once we have that ecological understanding we then boil the
bones and create what is knows as a Medicine Shield. The shield has
history and lore in the Native American traditions and signals a time of
fresh ideas and purpose, energies, promise, new undertakings and taking
Face painting on the
Miwok trail at Camp Tuolumne Trail
Captain David, Vincent
Downtown high school at
Ecology Center San Francisco school farm
Downtown high school at
Greenagers at 15th and
Quintara with Nature in the City
Green hair streak
butterfly habitat restoration project with Nature in the City
At Yosemite with the
Rocket Ship boys
Restoring the forest