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first_imgBURBANK – Under the shade of a coastal live oak in the city’s hillsides, a group of fifth-graders from Farmdale Elementary School took binoculars Tuesday and tried to spy mockingbirds, spotted towhees, sparrows and thrashers flitting above the chaparral. For some of the 25 mostly Latino children gathered behind the Stough Canyon Nature Center, it was a rare opportunity to commune with the outdoors and learn a few things about biology and science away from their urban environment of northeast Los Angeles. But Brian Rodriguez, 10, was concerned the black stink bug crawling on his hand was going to pee. “It’s tickling,” he cried out. “I think it’s searching for food. It feels tingly. It feels like it bit me.” Elyssa Roberts, 10, just enjoyed being outside and running her fingers through a creek. “It’s very fun because we get to learn about a lot of stuff we didn’t know before,” she said, “like about nature and how everything works.” Including what happens when you rub against that infamous three-leaved plant, as Johnnie Guadamuz, 11, learned from the naturalist on hand. “Don’t go near poison (oak),” Johnnie said. [email protected] (818) 546-3306160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsThe event, dubbed Outdoor Education, was held to show how lessons about nature can help at-risk kids get better grades and lead healthier lifestyles. Joining the nature walk was state Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-Van Nuys, who authored SB 1649, the Outdoor Classroom Act, which would make available $1.2 million to provide grants to school districts statewide to expand existing outdoor learning opportunities. Under the bill, districts could team up with state parks operators to set up facilities on the beaches, in the mountains or in the deserts of California. The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to vote on the bill next week. If signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, officials hope to begin the program as early as July 1. “These kids can have a better appreciation for nature if they can understand the outdoors, particularly if they understand that their communities used to be like this,” Alarcon said. “If we teach these kids to appreciate nature, they will do a better job of planning in the future. They will do a better job of taking care of their own home environment.” last_img read more