About Biocitizen LA

Biocitizen LA offers Field Environmental Philosophy (FEP) programs for students 5-16 in outdoor classrooms throughout the Los Angeles area and beyond

A day with Biocitizen

Our days are fun and active, and designed to “unplug” the learner by bringing them into direct, participatory contact with the ecosystems, infrastructures and histories that surround them.

Why we walk

The essential activities of FEP are engaging with and reading our environment.  This environmental engagement increases our students’ perceptual abilities, stimulates their critical inquiry, and inspires creative imagination.  Walking in the wild directly counteracts the effects of “nature deficit disorder” and brings students to their cognitive, intellectual, and physical edges. It is there—on those edges— where growth can be found.

Our guiding principles

Wonder – through active physical and mental engagement with our living systems, students experience wonder: the thrilling joy of exploring and engaging with the wilderness.

Connection – when ecological analysis is added to our natural wonder, students connect their own health and pleasure with the health of the environment. In this way, biotic immersion reveals how we are constituted by and express our environment.

Stewardship – When this connection is made, the ethic of self-preservation extends beyond the individual to the biotic community. We then are able to tap into our natural calling to care for the living systems that sustain us.

Through FEP exercises, our students expand their awareness of themselves outwards, to the other living organisms that  make our lives possible. They learn stewardship – the care of places – while deepening their connections to these places through meaningful experiences of wonder. That is what it is to be a Biocitizen.

Our Team

Jesse Carmichael

Jesse Carmichael

Regional Director of Biocitizen LA and Teacher
Benny Jacobs-Schwartz

Benny Jacobs-Schwartz

Program Director, Biocitizen LA and Teacher
Marysia Borucinska-Begg

Marysia Borucinska-Begg

Assistant Director, Biocitizen LA and Teacher
Celia Rivera

Celia Rivera

Executive Assistant

What Are They Saying About Biocitizen LA?

  • “We love Biocitizen! My son has been in camps and hiking groups with them since he was 6 and he always looks forward to It! The staff is so friendly and engaging and they really knows how to teach kids about nature in a way that the kids can retain the information. He always comes home with great facts and stories from the day and I couldn’t recommend these camps/classes more!”

    Peggy
    Positive: Communication, Quality
  • “This is the best camp, and the one my daughter looks forward to the most every year. The counselors are great, and the hikes are challenging, but not too onerous. The emphasis on being good stewards of the things they come across, as well as the fun they all have makes this a super easy recommendation for kids around Los Angeles.”

    Andy
    Positive: Communication, Professionalism, Quality, Value
  • “Wow, this is what camp should be! My six-year-old got to explore, find all kinds of animals, climb trees, and splash in a creek and the beach, and got a better sense of the amazing biodiversity of our own city. My son had an amazing time, and I’m excited he’s already signed up for another week in August.”

    Grace
  • “My child (6 yrs) had an amazing experience with Biocitizen! He loved being outdoors, hiking, exploring, learning about our city, and the animals, bugs and many creatures that call it home. He especially loved the games they played and came home wanting to teach us all of them. Jeffrey and Lindsay were great teachers and were very communicative. We can’t wait to come back to Biocitizen and are interested in getting more involved with their very special organization!”

    Krystal
    Positive: Communication, Professionalism, Quality, Value
"There are two things that interest me: the relation of people to each other, and the relation of people to land." ~Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work
Located

Los Angeles, CA

Regional Director

Jesse Carmichael

Founded

2016

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What is Biocitizen?

The word “biocitizen” is a contraction of “biotic citizen,” a term Aldo Leopold (1887–1948). One of our nation’s first wildlife managers, he is widely celebrated for conceiving the “land ethic.”

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.
It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

Leopold realized this while serving as the Forest Supervisor of the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico. Following the standard game management practices of the early 20th century, he exterminated wolves to increase the deer population for hunters. Without predators, the deer population skyrocketed—and crashed due to overgrazing and desertification. Leopold’s actions shocked him. When thunderstorms came, he watched fertile topsoils wash down from the mountains into the rivers, there being no living plants to stop the erosion. Knowing the management strategies he learned at Yale had failed, a chastened Leopold saw the wolf with new and profound respect, appreciative of its key role in sustaining the “biotic community” he was paid to care for. The wolf, he realized, was a better wildlife manager than he was!

This discovery (made outside, not inside) led him thereafter to question untested assumptions about how humanity fits into the designs of nature. He used what he learned to help his culture to discover and value biodiversity, and the larger family of life on earth that we belong to.

Leopold distinguished between two ways Americans relate to nature, one typical of pioneer culture and one newly emerging that is dedicated to inhabiting land sustainably.  We “see repeated the same basic paradoxes: man the conqueror versus man the biotic citizen; science the sharpener of his sword versus science the searchlight on his universe; land the slave and the servant versus land the collective organism.”

His biotic citizen is our Biocitizen: one who enacts the land ethic in everyday life, behaving as a “plain member and citizen” of a biotic community that “include[s] soils, waters, plants, animals, or collectively: the land.”

Drawing upon Leopold’s legacy of ideas and intentions, which in turn are rooted deeply in Western philosophy, Biocitizen provides students a hands-on introduction to the “ecological interpretation of history” at sites where they can perceive themselves and the land as a “collective organism.”

Leopold was an instrumental ecologist, forester and environmentalist and co-founded the Wilderness Society. In 1949 wrote his landmark, A Sand County Almanac, a collection of essays describing the land around his home, Sauk County, WI, for advocacy and the responsible relationship between people and the land they inhabit.

Adia’s Perspective 2019 – What it means to be a Biocitizen in LA

Day 1 – CITs in MA vs LA This is the first summer of Biocitizen LA’s CIT program and I am so excited to have the opportunity to take the lead in their training.  Today I met the two girls who are there this week and I am very impressed by their maturity and initiative...
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Adia’s Perspective 2019 – What is a CIT? Adia Bennett

Adia’s Perspective 2019 – MA to LA! Adia Bennett is joining us in Los Angeles again this summer for Our Place Summer School – and we are so grateful to have her strong, sweet, graceful guidance in the field, as our first Counselor in Training program launches this week, July 8th-12th. Adia has walked as a...
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Biocitizen Los Angeles – 2019 Intern/Volunteer – Apply Now

Biocitizen Los Angeles 2019 Internship Program What is Biocitizen? Biocitizen is the only school in the world devoted to teaching Field Environmental Philosophy (FEP). Los Angeles’ Our Place Summer School empowers students to have a sense of stewardship, through understanding the biocultural history of their city. Our students learn through immersion; we surround them with...
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School Year Programs

Biocitizen Classes Year Round!

Biocitizen LA provides outdoor classes around the school year including Saturdays, school holidays and breaks.

Our programs give your student the opportunity to experience our environment in playful, mindful, AND wild ways, while exploring the meanings and systems that formed the places we inhabit each day. They bring students into direct contact with LA’s myriad of wild and urban habitats and ecosystems. Classes are active, immersive and reflective: We hike, climb, swim, share, and always take time to simply sit and observe the world around us.

Students explore urban, mountain and coastal environments while learning through experiential programs. They enjoy the camaraderie other students from different neighborhoods and schools during our real-world, hands-on classes that focus on the ecosystems, infrastructures, and history that surround them.

After School Enrichment

After-school enrichment programs at Biocitizen offer the opportunity to experience direct encounters with the living environments, engage in conservation projects, and learn the biocultural history of their city.

Our outdoor classrooms may include local parks or the surrounding wilderness; the LA River, or the top of Disney Hall. We are actively developing site specific curricula for public and private schools throughout LA.

Current programing includes a class in which students create a National Wildlife Federation certified Garden for Wildlife on their urban campus. Fall of 2018 programing includes working with schools with gardens, to grow native plants from seeds
harvested locally, returning seedlings to restore drought damaged habitats.

Summer Programs

Called, “Our Place,” our summer program is designed for exploration and for encouraging our students to find “their place” in the LA “biome.”

Each day, students explore local and historical areas and ecosystems in LA. Our previous outdoor classrooms include: Elysian Park & LA River, Glendale Narrows Seasonal Recreation Area; Griffith Park and the Old Zoo; El Pueblo Historical Monument, Calle Olvera and the LA State Historic Park; Millard Canyon; Malibu, Point Dume and their tide pools.

On their hikes, students learn the biocultural history, origins and indigenous people of the areas; study native ecological communities, identify flora and fauna, visit learning centers and learn about art, history and activism.

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Biocitizen LA

310.279.2934

admin.la@biocitizen.org

Biocitizen, Inc.

BiocitizenLA is a 501(c) non-profit educational organization that provides immersive and experiential learning for ages 5-16, via Field Environmental Philosophy (FEP).

Biocitizen LA is the West Coast arm of Biocitizen, Inc.. Biocitizen was incorporated in 2009 to provide educational services within the field of environmental philosophy, including operating a school that teaches this subject in both traditional indoor classroom settings and outdoors at local, national and international sites. To ensure its educational services are of the highest quality, and reach as large an audience as possible, Biocitizen conducts scholarly research, develops curricula and syllabi, trains teachers, and performs public outreach through a website, the giving of lectures and presentations, and through the creation and dissemination of educational materials in print and other media.

Join The Waitlist Please list the following so that we can properly place your child quickly if a spot becomes available. Thanks for your interest! - Your name, email and phone number - Child's name and age - Specific friend requests (do you have a friend in the group?)