FIELD TRIPS - Academy for Environmental Stewardship



for 2nd, 3rd and 4th Grade

The Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation's Environmental Stewardship Program provides hands-on classes that stress responsible interaction with our natural surrounding and creates awareness of the environmental impact of day to day activities. Students will break into smaller groups and rotate through stations taught by educators who engage students with interactive activities that bring the lessons to life!


AHLF programs are aligned with Common core, History/Social Science, Next Generations Science Standards and STEAM curriculum.


Student Lessons:

  • 2nd Grade

    • Understanding the Earth’s Systems

  • 3rd Grade

    •  Live the Past

    •  Experience Today

    • Honor the Future

  • 4th Grade:

    •  Colonization

    •  Adaptations

    • Origins


for Pre- K and Kindergarten

Join us in-person for a 90-minute interactive field trip. The field trip is composed of two 45-minute lessons with the option of eating lunch or snack on our back patio!


  • $5 per student if 10 or more

  • $8 per student is less than 10      (6 student minimum)

Student Lessons:

  • Animal Interactions

  • Nature Hike

  • Who Polluted the Lagoon

  • Pollinator Perspective



for Your Classroom

The Academy for Environmental Stewardship goes virtual! Join us via virtual media for a 90-minute field trip. The field trip is composed of three 30-minute lessons per Academy program. The 90-minute program can be taught over the course of 2 or 3 days (60 minutes one day, and 30 minutes the other day or 30 minutes per day). Field trip programming can be shortened to individual 30-minute lessons too. 


For grade levels other than 2nd or 3rd Grade, please email, for customized virtual programming.


The field trip is limited to 25 students max.​

  • 90 minute virtual field trip (3 lessons): $239.99

  • 30 minute field trip (1 lesson): $79.99

Student Lessons:

  • 2nd Grade

    • Understanding Earth's Systems

      • Different Strokes for Different Folks

      • Incredible Water Journey

      • Seed Design

  • 3rd Grade

    • Program 1: Live the Past

      • Purpose of Plants

      • Rock Art

      • Weaving

    • Program 2: Experience Today

      • Animal Interactions

      • Bird Beak Design

      • The Times, They are a-Changin’

  • Virtual & on-site field trips are offered Monday-Friday (subject to availability)

  • EST & PST can be accommodated for virtual field trips

  • On-site field trips are offered between 9:30am-2:30pm

  • Build your own field trip: a la carte

    • Design your own field trip by mixing and matching the offered lessons. Choose only 1 or 2 lessons or 3 lessons (virtual) or 4 lessons (on-site). Each lesson is 30-45 minutes long so your field trip can best accommodate the amount of time you want. Cost will be dependent on length of field trip and number of students participating. Don’t see a lesson you want to learn? Email or call for specialization.

Field Trip Cancellation Policy: Teachers and parent volunteers are free. All fees are to be paid one week prior to your field trip. If your payment is late, a $50 late fee will be applied.

If you need to cancel your program for any reason, please email so that we have it in writing. We will respond via email that we received your cancellation. If you do not receive a response to your email, please call (760) 804-1969 and speak with Emily Bonds.

If cancellations occur at least two weeks before the program, no fees apply. If cancellations occur within two weeks before the date of the program, 50% of the entire trip scheduled will be charged. This applies to student absences (if the student count is less on the field trip day but Agua Hedionda was not notified at least two weeks prior, no refund can be issued).

Our program runs rain or shine; no need for cancellation due to inclement weather.

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Emily Bonds, Director of Education 

Emily grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and her love for the great outdoors developed at a young age. The warm weather and ocean drew Emily to Southern California, where she attended Chapman University. She received her B.A. in Integrated Education Studies with an emphasis in Leadership Studies and a Minor in Environmental Science. She also studied abroad in Turks and Caicos Island, where she studied marine science and tourism. Her passion for outdoor education and marine science drew her to the AHLF Discovery Center for their Academy of Environmental Stewardship. Emily is excited to be teaching and learning at the AHLF Discovery Center!


Bonnie Di Bacco

Bonnie is a Southern California native that grew up with parent’s that were both educators and has always believed education is critical for success. She first experienced the Agua Hedionda program while attending as a chaperone for one of her three children’s field trips. She has degrees from both Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and San Diego State University. She’s spent her entire career working in adverting as an Art Director and Graphic Designer in New York and California and currently works as a freelance Art Director. Teaching at the lagoon has been a big change and it’s been such an amazing experience. Her favorite part is seeing a child’s face light up when they learn something new. The outdoor learning environment keeps it interesting and fun for both the kids and her! She loves that they are learning about the history of our area in a fun and unique way and she truly believes that the knowledge they take away will motivate them to protect and preserve our local environment. 

Wendy Leeman

Wendy moved to California to be closer to her family in May 2016 and recently joined the AHLF Team. She graduated from Lesley College with a M.Ed. and from the University of Massachusetts with a B.A. in English Literature. She also earned a SIT TESOL certificate at the Rennert New York TESOL Center. Wendy has worked in business and education environments, including eighteen years of part-time and full-time teaching, and has always enjoyed outdoor activities including hiking, swimming, and skiing. She is a Local Coordinator for CCI Greenheart's exchange student program, writes her community's monthly newsletter, and volunteers at The Moonlight Amphitheatre in her new home town of Vista, California.

Valerie Lynch 

Valerie is a mother to two children, ages 11 and 9.  With a Masters degree in Family Therapy, Valerie has a professional history working with children in various settings and circumstances. She has been a stay at home mother, and also has experience working as a teacher in preschools and elementary schools. She enjoys being outside, running, camping, hiking, and learning more about the natural world around us.  Valerie's love for nature,  devotion to working with children, and passion for education are what has drawn her to our team.  

Ali Martin

Ms. Ali started working as a teacher for the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Discovery Center in the beginning of 2021. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science from UC Irvine, and  believes it’s important to teach kids from an early age to appreciate and care for our Earth and the environment. Ali is so excited to be able to teach the future leaders and policy makers who are going to make a positive impact on our Earth and its inhabitants

Lauren Mewshaw

Lauren has lived in the snowy mountains, the hot desert, and now by the sunny beach—all in Southern California. She early on developed a love for nature and the environment while going on daily hikes in the national forests of Big Bear, CA, with her family. After receiving her B.A. in Communication from UC San Diego, Lauren discovered her passion for education and environmental stewardship during a summer internship at Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. While there, she taught campers and school groups about marine science and conservation. Lauren has now been teaching preschool and elementary-aged students for almost 7 years, first at the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA in Encinitas and then at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla. Now she is thrilled to be an educator at the AHLF Discovery Center where she gets to teach children all about the wonders of our native animals and habitats.


Jo Niedeck

Ms. Jo believes in the importance of connecting children with nature. A native of the East Coast, she has a Bachelors of Science in integrated natural sciences and a Masters of Science in education. She taught middle school science in a public school for a dozen years and raised four daughters before moving to Eugene Oregon. There she worked as the education programs coordinator with the non-profit Nearby Nature. While at Nearby Nature she became increasingly convinced of the importance of early childhood interactions with nature and initiated Greenstart play days for preschoolers. Her move to California was motivated by a wish to be close to family.  She loves learning and has completed courses in early childhood education, permaculture, Master Gardeners training and California Naturalist training. Committed to environmentally conscious living, she grows food and native plants in her small garden, keeps red wiggler worms to compost food scraps and commutes by bike. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, reading, hiking, and spending time with family.  She is delighted to be working outside in nature with children at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon programs!

Juliane Soto

Juliane Soto is a proud mom to three kids; one in elementary, middle, and high school all in Carlsbad Unified School District. Many hours are spent volunteering at their schools as well as supporting their extracurricular activities. She earned a BA in Human Services and currently works for Community Interface Services, a local non-profit on Carlsbad supporting adults with disabilities. She has worked as a teacher at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation for more than four years and supports the quality of life the lagoon adds to her Carlsbad Community. She has also spent many years with the Women's Resource Center of Oceanside as a volunteer and board member.

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What are folks saying about their Field Trip experience at AHLF

Our trip to the Discovery center was incredibly informative and inspiring! My students thoroughly enjoyed the experience and they used that momentum for their botanical illustrations project. We are looking forward to our next excursion in the spring.

Megan, Art Teacher

Sage Creek High School, Carlsbad

I appreciate all you and your staff do. The programs are so educational and hands on. I love it and so do the students!

Luz, 3rd Grade Teacher

Mission Elementary, Oceanside

Wow! Just phenomenal... the most valuable Field Trip I have ever attended in terms of pre/post and during activities and curriculum support. I am jazzed to have these follow-up activities... Love the basket weaving template... I may try to fit that in too after the holiday break as we continue our study of Native Americans. Please also give our best regards to the Storyteller... he was grand and so memorable to the kids for his content and delivery.

Lucy, Third Grade Teacher

Breeze Hill Elementary, Vista

Thank you for such an enjoyable, engaging 'outdoor school' experience. Our students learned so many things and now have an appreciation for how hard people in the past had to work to survive.As always, we can't wait until we come again. Please tell your teachers how much I admire their expertise and how well they worked with our students!

Karen, Third Grade Teacher

Jefferson Elementary, Carlsbad

We had a fantastic time! The kids really enjoyed everything and learned a ton. We would definitely like to come back next year!

Summer, 3rd Grade Teacher

Carrillo Elementary, Carlsbad

Our students, parents, and teachers all enjoyed their day at the Discovery Center. Your fabulous staff and engaging curriculum made it a fun and educational day. We hope to be able to return to the center for another great experience next year.

Eunice, 3rd Grade Teacher

Carrillo Elementary, Carlsbad

We had such a great experience at the field trip today! The kids loved it too! The presentations were all stellar and we would love to return!

Betsy, Third Grade Teacher

North Terrace Elementary, Oceanside

Students were able to learn about their community and respect the environment and the importance of preserving it!

Tappin, 3rd Grade Teacher

St. Patrick Catholic School, Carlsbad