Ventura Sierra Club speaker discusses “nature and how it inspires us.”


McAlpine speaks to members of the local Sierra Club chapter at E.P. Foster Library’s Topping Room on March 12, 2019. Photo by: Micah Wilcox

Micah Wilcox

Nature journalist and author Ken McAlpine spoke to members of the local Ventura Sierra Club on Tuesday, March 12.

Around 45 people listened for 60 minutes with 20 minutes of questions in E.P. Foster Library’s Topping Room as McAlpine recounted stories from his travels, focusing on “nature and how it inspires us.”

“I wouldn’t trade them [my travels] for the world,” said McAlpine, sharing excerpts from his articles and books.

McAlpine discussed places around the world, such as the Galapagos Islands. Noting the “harsh” nature of the island – “very stark looking beauty” – he discussed visiting the island, saying “it really was an astonishing place.”

He recounted an experience in the Eastern Peru rainforests involving “trooping” in the rainforest at 1 a.m. in the morning; he discussed a time where he did “a story on country pubs in Victoria Australia” – “I woke up in a cemetery,” he said – and he talked about seeing the light of Los Angeles while being alone on Santa Barbara Island.

Responding to a question asking favorite place to travel, he said the Channel Islands; addressing those who raised their hands to say they had visited the islands, he said, “You know the beauty.”

In response to a question inquiring what he would tell high school students who haven’t had a chance to explore the nature around Ventura, McAlpine said, “If they were my son or daughter, probably [I would say], ‘you only live once.’”

“If you miss that,” he said, “you’re gonna regret it.”

“Some of them [natural places] aren’t going to be here forever either. I mean, we’re lucky in the sense that the Channel Islands, you know, they are being preserved but a lot of places there is no guarantees.”

The Ventura Sierra Club, a subgroup of the Los Padres Sierra Club, offers free hikes in Ventura County each weekend and during the week. In addition, the Club does six annual trips to the Channel Islands, according to John Hankins, editor of the Los Padres club’s newspaper, the Condor Call. A day trip occurred on Tuesday, March 19.

In addition, the Ventura Land Trust is hosting a “Monarch Madness” event at the Big Rock Preserve on March 30 to plant pollinator plant for butterflies.

AP Environmental Science teacher Jared McEntyre said that there are two tracks for students interested in the environment at Ventura High School: the academic track and the activist track.

The academic track “includes taking AP Environmental Science your junior year and then environmental field studies your senior year,” said McEntyre. He said that field studies in particular runs outside of the classroom;  “In fact the class operates exclusively outside for the most part.”

McEntyre discusses opportunities to get involved with environmentalism and the environment on campus. “We spend a lot of time in the Channel Islands, and or a lot of time outdoors in Ventura, doing activities like running water quality tests on the Ventura River,” stated McEntyre. Photo by: Micah Wilcox

AP Field Studies students also get opportunities like “working with professionals in the field [and] monitoring biodiversity.”

“When we’re out at [the] Channel Islands, [we do] similar things, working with wildlife biologists [and] working with restoration sites in the Channel Islands.”

Regarding the activist path, McEntyre discussed VHS’s Environmental Club, which meets in room 207 every other Tuesday.

“Students have a variety of opportunities to do restoration events or beach cleanups or also do water quality monitoring,” said McEntyre.