San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy adapting programs during the pandemic

Volunteers work on River Path Del Mar.

Volunteers work on River Path Del Mar.



The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy (SDRVC) is adapting its programs to online formats for the duration of the pandemic.

Said Executive Director, Trish Boaz, “We want to inform people so they will stay connected to each other through the outdoors and through the work the conservancy does, while respecting the stay-at-home and social distancing orders.”

In schools: Education Manager Ana Lutz-Johnson is teaching students at home via Zoom, in collaboration with seven teachers from elementary schools in Oceanside, San Marcos and Del Mar.

SDRVC’s Pollinator’s Paradise Program is being adapted to an online platform that includes interactive presentations and videos displayed on Zoom via screen-sharing. A typical lesson is 30 to 45 minutes, with additional Zoom calls optional dependent upon teacher preference.

Said Johnson, “School at home is an adjustment for the kids who miss their teachers and classmates. But they are adaptive.”

Since mid-March, the conservancy has engaged with over 150 students in kindergarten–2nd grade.

Johnson is hoping to offer online programming, kindergarten–12th grade, to additional classrooms and teachers through the end of the academic year. Interested teachers can contact Johnson through email:

Public programs: While traditional, in-person community programs have been postponed, SDRVC is adapting by providing alternative experiences online through Facebook Live.

Johnson leads a mini-lesson centered around a specific topic, such as birds within the San Dieguito Watershed and others. Resources are posted beforehand for reference, either images, videos, or articles, and are discussed during the Facebook Live lesson.

To participate, attendees log on to the conservancy’s Facebook page at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays where they can comment and “meet” with Johnson. For those who don’t use Facebook, the Live videos are uploaded to the Conservancy’s YouTube page.

Looking toward the future, the conservancy is connecting with experts across several fields to bring more in-depth presentations/online events via Zoom Webinar. The Webinars will be announced via e-newsletter, on, and on their social media platforms. Registration will be required.

Conservation programs: According to Jonathan Appelbaum, conservation manager, the conservancy’s Conservation Program work continues as normal, preparing to wind down its invasive-plant eradication fieldwork due to the onset of nesting bird season (March 15).

The program generally moves into a maintenance phase during the late spring and summer which involves a lot of watering and weeding. “However, with this year’s considerable late rain and a very large bloom of invasive weeds, we have had the huge task of annual weed control without our beloved volunteers,” said Appelbaum.

Accustomed to having help from about 300 volunteers a year, the conservancy has relied on tireless efforts of SDRVC’s staff of three and reached out for assistance from partners at San Diego Canyonlands. They even got some help from Appelbaum’s fiancé who brings years of experience in fine gardening and native landscape maintenance and design.

“The summer will hopefully see a return to normalcy and we eagerly await guidance from the city, county and state regarding the resumption of volunteer activities to support the conservancy’s community-based habitat restoration efforts,” said Appelbaum.

--News release