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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

Click here for: Current schedule of workshops (2014)

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 Francisco.

Personal reflections:

  • 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 around.
  • 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: mail@planetdrum.org

Other courses offered:

Noixiums Environmental Justice Curriculum:


Bioregional Mapping workshop

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.


Environmental Slogans

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 environmental problems.


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.


Creating Sustainable Societies

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.


Carrying Capacity

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)

Aquatic Biology

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.


Arthropod Adventures

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. 


Marine Biology

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.


Animal Tracking

PSST- 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.


The 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 your choice. 



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 calculated risks.

Click here for: Current schedule of Steven's Bioregional Education workshops (2014)

Face painting on the Miwok trail at Camp Tuolumne Trail

Captain David, Vincent Wolf, Noixium

Downtown high school at Ecology Center San Francisco school farm

Downtown high school at Yosemite Slough

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

Reptile discussion

Aquatic Biology Sessions

Tule technology

Tule technology

Habitat restoration debrief

Habitat restoration at Yosemite Slough

Habitat restoration at Islais Creek with Candlestick point Eco Stewards

Islais Creek restoration

Habitat restoration - removal of broom at Camp Tuolumne Trails

Habitat restoration - removal of broom

Rocket Ship staff