Biocitizen LA offers Field Environmental Philosophy (FEP) programs for students 5-16 in outdoor classrooms throughout the Los Angeles area and beyond
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.
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.
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.
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“I can’t speak highly enough about Biocitizen! My daughter absolutely loved her experience, even with the 90 degree weather! My child loves nature and Biocitizen provided a happy, nurturing experience that made her appreciate nature more than ever. Thank you Jeff and Jacob for a wonderful instruction and guidance!”
“My 8 year old and 5 year old are always so excited to tell me what they did during their time with their instructors Antonia and Rosie. From playing new games to learning about wildlife and nature, each outing is a fun filled adventure. We are so happy to have found such an amazing program.”
“My kids both love Biocitizen! It is great for them to participate in a program that both gets them in nature and active. I love how them come home excited about the City and the natural world. They have also made wonderful friends through the fantastic games and exercises they play.”
“Biocitizen is truly a unique, fun and fabulous learning experience for our son! After each session he comes home happy and full of information and can’t wait to go back. The leaders are kind and warm and plan wonderful outings for the kids in some of LA’s most beautiful parks and hikes! We can’t wait to experience the summer program this year!”
“This program has been what has saved us during 2020 (and now into 2021) – my 6yo was already in love with Biocitizen before lockdown happened but it was the one activity he was able to do year round in the hardest year of our lives… he masked up and socially distanced, but got to throw rocks, hike trails, be around other kids and cool adults who know all about the flora and fauna of LA. (There’s so much more than you’d think!) He is in great shape, gets outside in fresh air and we get a little break from each other too! He is already excited about spring break camp and summer camp and we’ve gotten so excited as parents that we have joined in on the weekend events too. Worth every penny. Thank you for making 2020 and 2021 so much better!!!!”
“Both our elementary aged kids LOVE Biocitizen. They have done the after school program and the summer day camp and always come home happy, dirty and full of stories to tell. I like that they learn about the natural history of our city and spend much needed time outdoors. The counselors and program leaders are also exceptionally kind and fun and our kids love them all. I’m so glad our family had Biocitizen during this difficult year.”
“With schools closed and the pandemic in full swing, we had to find some creative solutions to get our daughter outside (away from the screen) and able to socialize safely with other kids. Biocitizen’s after school enrichment has been a lifesaver. My daughter has made new friends and loves the coaches. Each hike seems to melt the zoom school stress away. And the full-day camps are fantastic as well—she loves the adventures of being out on the trail all day, observing deer, learning about native plants or watching birds. Truly the best!”
“LA BioCitizen has been a game changer for us this year. It has given our kids the unique opportunity to get out into nature, explore, get curious and just be kids with other kids- all while be guided by their amazing teachers Antonia & Rosie. They look forward to their journeys with them every week. It’s refreshing and so much fun to see them enjoying themselves so much. Thank you BioCitizen for your beautiful program! It makes me want to always have just a few hours of school a day and afternoons of exploration. Seems like the way life should be.”
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.
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.