Posts Tagged: Dash 4 Trash

Let’s Talk Trash!

During the week of October 3rd through October 10th, 2014, Pathfinder Ranch conducted a waste audit.  We collected, sorted, and weighed all of the waste that we produced during that week.  We counted all of the waste going to the landfill as well as waste that was being diverted (i.e. sent to other places).  The diverted waste included food that went to our compost pile and materials that we took to a recycling center.

We did this audit to look at how well we are practicing the three “R’s”: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  In 2002, Pathfinder did our first waste audit, and found that only 27.6% of the total waste was being diverted to compost or recycling.  Since then, we have been doing more and more to reduce how much waste we produce and increase the percent that we divert from landfills.  This year, our waste audit showed that we have increased the percent of our waste diverted to 46.6%!  This is a fantastic change and we owe a big “Thank You!” to all of our visitors for helping us get to this level.

However, we’re always looking for ways to improve.  We want to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills even more.  Here’s how you can help us:

  • We would love to hear your suggestions of how we can reduce our waste by commenting below, messaging us on Facebook, or filling out an evaluation during your trip.
  • Ask a staff member to help you sort your waste into the appropriate places during your trip.
  • Try to reduce the amount of packaging in your sack lunches for your arrival day by purchasing/making foods and drinks with as little packaging as possible.

So why did we do this?

We wanted to know how big our ecological footprint is.  An ecological footprint is how much of an impact we have on our earth’s ecosystems based on the things we do every day.  For example, how long of showers you take, the types of food that you eat, how you get to school, how often you buy new things, and how much waste you create, all affect the ecosystems around us.   You can take a quiz from Islandwood Outdoor Learning Center, to find out your ecological footprint using this link .  You can also complete your own waste audit at school or in your home to see how much waste is being produced and how you can reduce it.  Look at Willow’s blog from October 2, 2013 to find out how to complete your own waste audit.

See you down the Trail!


For our schools that have already attended, we know that you love and miss garbology (the study of food waste).  For our schools yet to come, we hope you’re getting excited, but why should we keep this important program all to ourselves?! Why not bring Garbology and conservation back to your schools, homes, and local communities?!  To help get you started, you should check out this fun website that talks about garbology:

We graph our food waste for the week on our Garbology chart.

We graph our food waste for the week on our Garbology chart.

The compost pile on the left is still being added to, while the pile on the left is almost ready for our spring planting!

The compost pile on the left is still being added to, while the pile on the right is ready for spring planting!







Talk to your family about studying what you throw away each week.  Then, you can see if you can reduce the amount of waste going to a landfill by looking at what can be REUSED, COMPOSTED, or RECYCLED.  You can find a list of things that can be recycled by looking at your city’s waste and recycling website.

You can bring garbology to your school by encouraging your classmates to look at what they are throwing away at lunch and in the classrooms.  Just like at Pathfinder, the waste from your lunches can be sorted into recycling, compost, and trash.  If you do not have recycling or composting at your school, you can ask your teachers and your principal to help you start these programs.  You can also talk to your school about signing up for a cool program called TerraCycle.  TerraCycle is a company that accepts a variety of used school and office items like empty juice pouches, empty Lunchable containers, and even pens so that they can be made into new products.  You can sign up for this at

Luna is showing us some of the items we TerraCycle.

Luna is showing us some of the items we TerraCycle.

Good luck and see you down the trail!

-Pathfinder Ranch Naturalists

Season of Thanks

“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.” -Tecumseh

Here's the view from one of our local trails in the San Bernardino National Forest. Tough to beat!

Here’s the view from one of our local trails in the San Bernardino National Forest. Tough to beat!

Here at Pathfinder ranch everyone is embracing the season of being thankful! The Naturalists are extremely grateful to work with amazing students in such a beautiful place. The Jeffrey pines are smelling as sweet as ever, the the weather has been perfect for our hikes, and the night sky is lit up with constellations like Orion! The Naturalists aren’t the only lucky ones up here on the mountain. Gwar, our ball python is thankful for his heat lamp that keeps him warm during those chilly nights. Our chickens, turkeys, and garden plants are thankful for our compost. The poultry love pecking at the fruits, and the remaining compost turns into nutrient rich soil for our garden!

There are so many things to be thankful for like our families, our friends, and our schools. Many of our students are grateful for nature and what it provides for us. It’s great to be aware and thankful for what we have and it’s even better to give back and take care of the things we are thankful for!

“We need to take care of nature because nature takes care of us!”- Pathfinder Student

We are so thankful to have pieces of history right in our backyard, like this abandoned gold mine!

We are so thankful to have pieces of history right in our backyard, like this abandoned gold mine!

How have you shown your appreciation for the things you are thankful for? How will you show your thanks in the future? If you’re thankful for the food you have, try volunteering at your local soup kitchen with a parent, or plant a garden in your backyard. If you’re thankful for your planet, try picking up the trash you see (like Dash 4 Trash) or recycle your old soda cans. If you’re thankful for your friends and family, try doing something nice for them or writing them a kind note!

The Pathfinder Naturalists challenge you to create a change and show your appreciation for the things you have so that others may have a reason to be thankful, too!

Be grateful for what you have and spread thanks wherever you go!

-The very thankful Pathfinder Naturalists

Outdoor Education is in Full Swing!

Things are great here at the Ranch, and Outdoor Education is in full swing!  It’s a bit chilly at night, but it’s absolutely perfect during the day, perfect for all of your favorite classes and activities!

Our students come to us for many reasons, looking for different things, hoping to learn what they may.  We are super excited to share with you what our local environment has to offer and how you can learn more about the natural and cultural world that surrounds us.

For those waiting to come up, what are you looking forward to do on your trip?

For those who have already visited, how have you changed your lives since your trip? What do you remember the most?

Archaeology is a favorite for many students, and here is a photo of some students looking for artifacts.

Here are students looking for artifacts.



Archaeology is a favorite for many students, and allows them to explore Garner Valley’s rich cultural history.




This student is searching intently for trash along our trails in hopes of raising the Dash 4 Trash Champions Flag!

Searching for trash along our trails.

Dash 4 Trash is in effect! Thanks to everyone who has helped clean up Pathfinder and the surrounding areas! Who’s going to be the next study group to raise the Dash 4 Trash Champions Flag?!


Looking closely for minerals in the rocks.

Looking closely for minerals in the rocks.


Geology has been pretty popular this fall with students searching intently for minerals and rocks.  Even if you didn’t take Geology, do you remember seeing any cool rocks while at Pathfinder? Have you seen any of those minerals or rocks back in your home communities?



Walking on the Team Challenge skis!

Walking on the Team Challenge skis!




Did you take Team Challenge? What was your favorite activity? What was the most difficult? Here are some students on the team challenge skis. That looks pretty hard.





“Great things are done when men and mountains meet” – William Blake

How does this quote apply to your experiences at Pathfinder, and your lives back at home? What are some great things that happen when people explore the mountains?

Lastly, whether you’re exploring your own backyard, a local park, or the San Jacinto Mountains, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses!

Desert Rose

Desert Rose