Wild About Ojai

Los Padres ForestWatch honors Thacher.
Each year around this time, a big white tent goes up on Upper Field to host Commencement, and a week after that, Reunion. In between, it is put to a third good use—hosting the annual Ojai WILD! event, which helps raise funds for Los Padres ForestWatch, a local nonprofit that works to protect wildlife, wilderness, and clean water throughout the Los Padres National Forest and other public lands along California’s central coast. With the Topa Topa Mountains and dusky evening skies providing the backdrop, it’s easy to drive the point home: These are landscapes worth protecting.
 
In 2008, we hosted ForestWatch’s first-ever fundraising event under the oaks out at Diamond Hitch; we’ve played host to its annual Ojai WILD! fundraising event ever since and watched it grow from 50 to more than 300 attendees.
 
This year, we were incredibly honored to accept the organization’s Wilderness Legacy Award, which Head of School Michael Mulligan accepted on behalf of the School. ForestWatch wrote of their decision:
 
“We celebrate The Thacher School’s commitment to remain firmly grounded in an outdoor ethic, a responsibility to environmental sustainability, and a deep connection to nature. Our hope is for The Thacher School to continue to foster the next generation of advocates for the great outdoors—yesterday, today, and for many years to come. And we are reassured by what we see. The day after freshmen arrive on campus, they venture into the Golden Trout Wilderness for a weeklong orientation. Every fall and spring—and many weekend trips in-between—students and faculty take to the trails for backpacking trips, leaving out their back door to explore the Los Padres National Forest and other wild and protected places across our beautiful state of California. And on the weekends in between, you are likely to find small groups of students and faculty members maintaining and improving these trails. Within our community, The Thacher School serves as a beacon of balanced living, an example of how to live, play, and work sustainably.
 
In word and deed, sustainability is at the heart of The Thacher School’s mission. In 2016 the Thacher School received the Green Achiever award through the California Green Ribbon Schools program, its highest honor. The award recognizes excellence in resource efficiency, health and wellness, and environmental education. Running primarily on solar energy, the school has reduced its water use by 40 percent since 2013, and composts, recycles, or reuses all waste generated on campus. Community-focused, they also steward the forest’s Horn Canyon trailhead on campus, a gateway from the Ojai Valley into the Los Padres National Forest.”
 
Here’s to 10 years of the Ojai WILD! event, 25 years of the Sespe Wilderness, and many more working together to protect our beautiful, wild spaces.
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