In addition to scheduled educational programs and special projects, Friends of Ballona Wetlands also offers ongoing programs that are open to the public. These regularly scheduled programs take place on the same day of each month, year-round.
On the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, FBW docents share their knowledge of the birds and natural environment at the Ballona fresh water marsh. On the second Sunday of each month, all are welcome to join FBW for an in depth tour of the salt marsh and dunes. And on the fourth Saturday of each month participants share in a sense of accomplishment as they help restore the sand dunes and trails at Ballona. These programs are ideal for individuals and very small groups, since no reservation is required. Reservations are requested for groups of five or more persons.
Partnerships and Special Projects
While Friends of Ballona Wetlands’ continuing education and restoration programs prove to be highly enriching experiences, occasionally we work with schools and other organizations to create in-depth programs which involve multiple visits to the wetlands over a period of time. These programs help us to restore the habitat, to document progress, to gain better understanding of restoration practices in local coastal dunes systems, and to accomplish important projects on the site.
Since 1990 the Audubon Society has offered tours of the Ballona Wetlands for children grades 3 - 6. More than 50,000 children have participated in the program, which offers an opportunity for students to see the last major salt marsh in Los Angeles County and to learn about the native plants, insects, birds and marine invertebrates that inhabit this beautiful natural environment. During the children's two hour walk of the wetlands the students have an opportunity to use microscopes to observe live microorganisms which are carefully collected and returned alive to the wetlands. Audubon leaders and docents guide the students through all the stations of the program, which includes hands-on restoration work in the wetlands, learning about the history of the Ballona watershed, wetlands ecology and the food chain, viewing birds through spotting scopes and binoculars, and leaving with an Audubon educational booklet on the wetlands to remember their experience.
Each year, the Friends introduce students from Otis College of Art and Design to Ballona Wetlands through an on site program and discussion about plastics in our marine environment, the value of coastal ecosystems, and a special “sketch day” where students come out to quietly draw, write, and photograph their impressions of the wetlands. In 2008 the Friends worked with the Integrated Learning Department at Otis to facilitate the creation of a design for a sustainable, environmentally sound, on-site Restoration Center. The result was both impressive and inspiring.
Dr. Philippa Drennan, a member of the Friends’ Board of Directors and a professor of biology at Loyola Marymount University, conducts research on the plants of the Ballona dunes and salt marsh, creating protocols and documenting the progress of the Friends’ Dunes Restoration Project and a better understanding of native plant ecology. Also, LMU professors Dr. Carolyn Viviano, Dr. John Dorsey, and Dr. James Landry contribute to program development, supervision of interns, water quality studies, and in numerous other ways help to support the mission the Friends’ mission.
The Friends has a positive partnership with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps SEA Lab. New Corps members come to Ballona for an introduction to the wetlands and close up study of an established native dune habitat. Together we have brainstormed and experimented with the ins and outs of germinating some of the more sensitive dunes plants. One such brainstorm resulted in Dr. Drennan’s study and report on the germination of native sand verbena, a beautiful, somewhat delicate plant necessary to the dunes ecosystem.
Students from local high school marine science classes come to Ballona several times a year to help remove invasive plants from the wetlands. During each visit they gained deeper understanding of the ecosystem.