Learning Among the Oaks is a K-6th grade outdoor science education program based at Santa Margarita School since its start in 2005.
The Santa Margarita Demonstration Forest - The Santa Margarita School Demonstration Forest and Monarch Habitat Garden (in development) are located on school property along the H St. entrance to SMES. This special place has been developed and maintained by volunteers since its start in 1997.
LATO began with a teacher’s vision and two multi-year grants from the California Wildlife Conservation Board to the University of California, Berkeley. In 2012, the program transitioned to its nonprofit home within The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County. Unique, enriching learning experiences for Santa Margarita School students and families are centered around use of a nature trail developed on private land of the Santa Margarita Ranch surrounding SMES. Thanks to all teachers, staff, families, donors and volunteers involved and especially Santa Margarita Ranch owners Karl Wittstrom, Doug Filipponi and Rob Rossi for making LATO possible. In 2010, LATO added a youth environmental leadership component known as “Oak Ambassadors.” This has become a highly successful endeavor unique to Santa Margarita School (see LATO in The Tribune news).