Ventana Wildlife Society is planning an academic out of doors recreation house in Huge Sur

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The Ventana Wildlife Society is partnering with Andrew Molera State Park in Big Sur to create an educational outdoor recreation space. The non-profit organization aims to create a space for local families who, due to transportation or economic barriers, cannot access the outdoor recreation opportunities of the Central Coast.

The aim is to open the area with the name S’MORE in autumn 2023. “S’MORE is a fun acronym for Space for Meaningful Outdoor Recreation and Education,” said Kelly Sorenson, executive director of the Central Coast-based Ventana Wildlife Society. The nonprofit organization is known for their conservation work centered around California condors, but they also provide outdoor education for local communities.

According to Sorenson, Ventana is creating S’MORE by partnering with Andrew Molera State Park to create a meaningful, educational experience for underserved families in the local community. “We believe this is a right rather than a privilege, and we want to try to make nature equal for everyone,” Sorenson said.

Ventana Wildlife Society

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Drawing plans of space for meaningful outdoor recreation and education

In the past, Ventana has invited migrant agricultural workers and their families to a summer youth camp in East Salinas. They’ve reserved a temporary spot at a local park so the families can go hiking, learn about nature, see animals they’ve never seen before and learn what’s happening to the endangered California condors. He says that’s how he imagines S’MORE.

“We’ve always wanted a place like this that we can access year-round, so it’s primarily for underserved youth and families,” Sorenson said.

Sorenson says he’s excited to have a place for families to camp and learn through creative activities. His hope is to create a culture for the next generation, so they want to come back and protect the country. “We want to think long-term. We need to think about who’s going to take care of this place when we’re gone,” Sorenson said.

Andrew Molera State Park has already approved Ventana’s plans. According to Sorenson, the next step is to complete the drawings, get approval from local authorities, and raise funds to support their plans. They’ve already raised over $29,000 in cash and deposits, but the total projected cost is $350,000 over the next year and a half.