Gina’s Orchard Watershed Education Program

TreePlantingAn exciting new dimension was added to The Bishop’s Ranch in the fall of 2001 with the launch of watershed education pilot programs for elementary school aged children. The Gina’s Orchard Watershed Education Program is a way to experience the wonder and mystery of nature while deepening knowledge about complex elements of a watershed.

It is a multi-disciplinary program for elementary school aged students that is supportive and complementary of the state educational standards. The curriculum includes learning about native and nonnative plants, mammals, birds, fish and insects that live in Sonoma County as well as basic facts about hydrology and the role of water in a watershed. Students are introduced to land use practices that maintain a healthy watershed. The field based watershed education program includes classroom visits to enhance learning and the field experience.

There is the opportunity for day use activities at The Bishop’s Ranch as well as overnight adventures using the Ranch accommodations. We will especially seek out students who might not otherwise have an opportunity to experience a watershed and we will look to expand the program to groups of all ages. After a McKinley School visit one student commented,

blockquoteLGoing to Bishop’s Ranch was very interesting. I saw many things I have never seen like shooting stars, buttercups and the milkmaids….The bay leaf smells like mint, I saw the turkey vulture, the dead frog and the fungi that was very soft.” Another fifth grader noted, “It was very fun and exciting. I really liked the activities we did on the hike, it was fun to learn about the different plants and flowers also on the hike.blockquoteR

If you or your school is interested in learning more about the program please contact Operations Director Jack Dowling,
707-433-2440 x118 or jack@bishopsranch.org.

Brief History of Gina’s Orchard

In 1961 Dr. Martin Griffin purchased 240 acres of land along Westside Road which he developed into the Hop Kiln Winery, a National Historic Landmark. Included in this acreage was an apple orchard that was planted on the edges of Turtle Creek in 1880. Even after decades of no care, some of these ancient apple trees have continued to produce apples.

Marty leads an active and varied life. After World War II he practiced medicine in Marin County and later worked in public health in Sonoma County. Dr. Griffin chaired the Hepatitis B and AIDS task force for the 11 California State hospitals for 10 years, and retired in 1989. He has spent years as an environmental leader, was co-founder of Audubon Canyon Ranch wildlife preserves in Marin and Sonoma Counties, and wrote the book Saving the Marin-Sonoma Coast. He committed to preserving the riparian corridor along Turtle Creek and the Russian River through the Hop Kiln property, just as we are caring for Turtle Creek flowing through The Bishop’s Ranch Nature Preserve.

GinaAs Marty was developing Hop Kiln Winery, he was also blessed with the birth of 6 grandchildren over the years. Marty’s daughter Joan Griffin gave birth to Gina Marin Monaco in 1982, and Gina spent many of her childhood years in Healdsburg, enabling Marty and his wife Joyce to form a very close relationship with her. She loved to swim, dance, paint butterflies in the wild, and explore the creek. In October 1997, Gina was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and was forced to focus her youthful energy on a yearlong fight for her life. Gina lost her battle August 23, 1998. She was 15 years old. Her memorial service was held at The Bishop’s Ranch chapel. In her memory, Marty named the old orchard “Gina’s Orchard”. In turn we honor Gina and the Martin Griffin family by naming our environmental education program The Gina’s Orchard Watershed Education Program.

Support the Gina’s Orchard Watershed Education Program

Gifts to the Gina’s Orchard Watershed Education Program will help ensure Ranch guests are exposed to concepts of land stewardship.

  • Guests interact with the natural environment
    The purpose of these programs is for guests to learn, discover and have fun while out-of-doors in the Russian River watershed. The trips provide people the opportunity to have a new adventure while taking inspiration from the wonders of water and nature.
  • People learn about watershed ecology
    Trained staff lead groups to hike, observe, listen, measure, record and play in nature. People can observe first hand how willow and bay laurel trees protect river banks, the way creek systems run together toward the larger Russian River, and the manner in which fish use these creeks and streams to breed. Upland watershed land use and wildlife habitat is studied.
  • People of all ages learn about land stewardship
    Cultivating a taste for the out-of-doors and learning about nature in an undeveloped area allows visitors to contemplate the role of nature, both in their lives as well as in the larger scheme of the planet’s ecosystem.

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Thank you for your support. The Bishop’s Ranch is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Contributions are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law. Tax ID #94-1156840.