By Karen Billing
R. Roger Rowe third-graders received a hands-on history lesson recently, taking a field trip the Osuna Adobe on May 14 and making their own adobe bricks. The students didn’t have to travel far to see a piece of California history, a complement to what they are learning in the classroom.
The field trip of about 70 students is just the kind of community involvement the Rancho Santa Fe Association’s Osuna Committee has been hoping for as part of its mission is to “create a vibrant community resource for current and future generations.”
The RSF Association received help for the field trip’s brick-making from Mark Sauer Construction, the same crew that made the necessary repairs to the adobe structure last summer.
Troy Parry, from Sauer Construction, told the students that since there was no wood to build a shelter when the adobe was first built in the 1800s, people had to use materials that were available, such as mud and straw. Those people discovered that when mixed together and used as bricks to build a home, the adobe material acted as a natural insulation — it stayed cool in the warmer months and in the winter, the bricks held in the heat.
Crew workers chopped up slices of hay using a machete and mixed it with clay to create the adobe mixture. Sauer then picked a student to demonstrate how to take the clay and put it into the brick form — he advised slapping the clay down and the student happily obliged.
“This is awesome,” “Once you get used to it, it feels cool,” and “I love this,” students remarked as they dug into the tray of adobe with their bare hands.
The children were able to mark their bricks with handprints, initials, hearts and other designs and, once they dried fully, the bricks would be returned to the school as keepsakes from their field trip. Once completing their bricks, many kids enjoyed just sticking their hands into the clay tray and sinking up to their elbows.
“This is the best field trip ever,” said a third-grader named Lily.
While one group of students busied themselves with clay, the RSF Association’s Senior Planner Kirk Dakan led the other group of students on a tour of the adobe, sharing stories about what it was like for the residents, the Osuna family, through the 1800s.
R. Roger Rowe teacher Terrie Bacon was “instrumental” in scheduling the trip and getting the students out on the ranch, said Stacy Lackey of the RSF Association’s Osuna Committee. Lackey said it was very exciting for the committee to have the children be involved on the property in this way.
“We’ll be doing it every year,” Lackey said of the field trip.
The Amigos de Osuna, the fundraising arm of the Osuna Committee, continues to raise funds to be able to complete its adobe restoration plans. A donor-advised charitable fund has been established for the group at the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation. To learn more about how to contribute, visit