On January 24, Dr. John Shribbs, took his AP Environmental Science class from Casa Grande HS to tour Tolay Park with the guidance of Park Ranger Brandon Bredo and the assistance of Ranger Jim Taylor. Students toured the central farm area, including the Indian Village, and walked to the old barn up the hill, which had a good view of this new park. Many of the students previously visited the park, but several were there for the first time, and more than one said they did not realize the park existed. The rangers reviewed the issues they dealt with every day and instructed the students of the variety of potential developments at the park. We saw a large bird leave the barn, probably a great horned owl known who frequents the area. Due to the drought, Lake Tolay was dry with vegetation growing in the bottom area. We discussed possible interactions young people could have with the park and stimulated discussion on what students would find most interesting when visiting the park.
Back in the classroom, the students reviewed the 3 levels of development: minimal (Plan A), moderate (Plan B), and high input (Plan C) and then worked in teams of two to develop their opinions and recommendations for 10 of the 21 components of plan, with special emphasis on the teenage perspective. Recommendations were quite diverse, but several concepts came up that were important. Students wanted an equestrian center so they could experience a horse ride, a small campsite in the hills, an improved visitor center to get information, and guided hikes on a larger trail system.
Students wrote up letter of recommendations which were sent to the County Parks development team through Ranger Bredo. They really appreciated the opportunity to apply environmental issues they learned in the classroom to land management designs to make a real impact on the future plans of their park.