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Wagner Ranch Nature Area is a nature preserve and historic site offering hands-on experiential education to approximately 1000 school children annually.  It features 18 acres of meadow, forest, ponds and streams.  The San Pablo Creek borders one side of the preserve, which is home to thousands of native plant and animal species.  Since 1970, the programs of the Nature Area have helped students embrace the connection between themselves and their environment and develop a sense of lifelong stewardship.

Elementary School Field Trips:

Third Grade
Animal Camp: One full day of animal habitat, food chain, ecosystems studies.

Fourth Grade
Native American Studies: Two full days of California history with a focus on the cultures of the Ohlone and Bay Miwok tribes.
Rancho Days: Two full days of California history.

Fifth Grade
First Thanksgiving: One full day complete re-enactment of the First Thanksgiving.
Pioneer Days: Two full days of California history.

Sixth – Eighth Grades
Others First Program

High School
Miramonte High School Environmental Education

Community Events:

Annual Wildlife Festival (Sunday, April 23, 2017)
Annual Olive Festival (Sunday, October 2, 2016)

Biodiversity Garden:

This corner of the Nature Area provides a place for native species of plants and animals to thrive and for students to learn organic gardening practices.  A diversity of beneficial insects is used to control plant-eating insects without the need for pesticides and herbicides. Learn more.

Volunteer Opportunities:

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Rotary Clubs and many other community organizations and individuals have contributed thousands of volunteer hours for special projects at the Nature Area.

Background of the Friends of the Wagner Ranch Nature Area

The Friends of the Wagner Ranch Nature Area (Friends) started in 2004 as a grass roots organization under the fiscal umbrella of the East Bay Community Foundation. The Friends is dedicated to supporting the environmental education programs in the Nature Area and conserving the natural and historical resources of the eighteen-acre preserve owned by the Orinda Union School District.

In September 26, 2008, we became a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and undertook significant restoration and facilities improvement projects for the Nature Area. Working under the guidance and inspiration of District Naturalist Toris Jaeger, The Friends carried out the following projects with funding and support from many community groups and volunteers:

  • Upgrades to the all-weather, to-code, picnic shelter with tables
  • Creation of the cooking area for preparing food for student groups
  • 1000 feet of wheel chair accessible trails
  • Protection and maintenance of the pond area for red-legged frogs
  • Installation of raised garden beds for Wagner Ranch classrooms
  • Mowing of grass and removal of vegetation around cooking areas and trails

Toris Jaeger retired as the District Naturalist in July 2009. She continues to help in the Nature Area to coordinate and teach programs for students. This past year, the Friends provided more than $16,000 in stipends for aides and for Toris to teach First Thanksgiving, Rancho Days, Native American Studies, Pioneer Days, and Animals of Orinda.

Our website provides an overview of the educational programs and volunteer opportunities that need your support. While the Orinda Union School District is the owner of the Nature Area, we will continue to need private donations to help maintain the Nature Area and support environmental education programs.