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    Conejo Open Space Foundation announces five grand prize winners

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    By Michael Hernandez

    THOUSAND OAKS—Conejo Open Space Foundation board member Elayne Haggan  presented the City Council the five Grand Prize Winners selected from Conejo Valley Unified School District students for its annual writing contest.

    “This year, 1,101 Conejo Valley fourth graders attended Trails Education Days,” said Haggan, who also serves as Trails Education Days coordinator.  “The students’ day began with a one-hour nature hike through Wildwood Canyon.  Their hike leaders included many volunteers who have extensive naturalist training.”

    Students participated in three workshops following the hike focused on ranger careers, indigenous birds and animals and trail safety and courtesy.  More than 75 volunteers plus ranger staff coordinated the student program.

    More than 880 submissions (letters written describing what was learned during the Trails Education Days) were made to the Conejo Open Space Foundation annual writing contest which was managed by volunteer Melanie Ashen, a Conejo Open Space Trails Action Committee (COSTA) member, that recruited eight judges to choose five fourth-grade grand prize winners.  The letter writing winners included:  Auden Chan (Westlake Hills);  Isabella Bass (Acacia); Isabella Steiner (Banyan); Otto Gasowski (Westlake) and Leah Muger (Banyan).

    Two winners from each CVUSD school are selected and then the five Grand Prize winners district-wide receive cash awards as well as recognition. The grand prize winners for 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012 are listed here.  The 2020 Trails Education Days are scheduled for April 27-May 1st.

    The Conejo Open Space Foundation is a non-profit foundation formed in 1995 that works to promote and maintain the multi-use trail and open space systems of the Conejo Valley.   The mission of the foundation is “to educate residents about their roles as custodians and protectors of the open space and the environment.”

    The Conejo Valley is home to nearly 15,250 acres of protect open space within Thousand Oaks city limits which includes more than 150 miles of trails for hiking, biking and equestrian use.  Trails link local neighborhoods with open space areas and provide regional trail connections to trails in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and adjacent cities.

    The Conejo Open Space Foundation helps preserve and protect open space and provides additional information about open space volunteer opportunities.  Information can be found in COSF’s website or by contacting Anna Huber at Ranger Headquarters: (805) 449-2329 or emailing [email protected] at the Conejo Recreation and Parks District office at 403 W. Hillcrest Drive.

    Grand Prize Winners (students in front row): left to right:  Auden Chan, Isabella Bass, Isabell Steiner, Otto Gasowski (celebrating birthday at City Council meeting),  Leah MugerThousand Oaks City Councilmembers (second row): left to right: Al Adam (Mayor Pro Tem), Ed Jones. Rob McCoy (Mayor), Bob Engler, Claudia Bill-de la Pena. Conejo Open Space Foundation board member Elayne Haggan.


    Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor.  He has worked 24 years as a middle school teacher.   Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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