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Fall 2023 RPTA 412 Eco-Tourism in Catalina

Student Perspective from Julia Manzano, fourth-year recreation, parks and tourism administration major

RPTA412 Eco-tourism course Fall 2023I had the opportunity to travel to Santa Catalina Island with my eco-tourism class and two of my professors, Marni Goldenberg and Keri Schwab, for our RPTA 412 Eco-tourism and Outdoor Recreation course Oct. 20-23.

This field learning experience included a three-night camping trip located at the Black Jack Campground. This was such an amazing experience that cultivated a collaborative and teamwork style atmosphere, as we all collectively cooked dinner, kept our campsite tidy and learned a lot about each other in the process. 

Near the end of our trip I can recall turning to a classmate and saying, “This is going to be one of the best memories of my college career because of all the amazing adventures we’ve experienced and all of the incredible people we’ve met.” 

We were given the opportunity to meet with employees from the Catalina Island Conservancy who joined us for dinner at our campsite and spoke to us about their job and experience living on the island. We learned about micropropagation, the endemic plant species and animals, wildlife conservation programs and how tourists affect the island. All of our guest speakers were extremely passionate about their current position and the projects they are working on. 

This was a true Learn by Doing experience as we were able to participate in volunteer service projects to support the conservancy and the island. One opportunity we were able to participate in was a seed seeking and plant propagation experience. We collected seeds from the native sticky monkey flower plant and cuttings from the chamise shrub. These seeds and cuttings were taken back to the Ackerman Native Plant Nursery. While the seeds needed to undergo other processes before they were planted, we were able to plant the chamise clippings in perlite and a growth hormone.

The second service project we participated in was a beach clean-up where we removed more than 10 pounds of plastic, wood and other trash from the Shark Harbor and Little Harbor shores. We explored the island by hiking, swimming and kayaking and caught a glimpse of the island fox, bison, deer, sea lion and garibaldi fish.

I deeply appreciated this opportunity to travel to Catalina Island with my classmates and professors, as it provided me with unique experiences I could never have encountered otherwise and taught me valuable lessons in eco-tourism, sustainability and outdoor recreation.

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