Freshman Explore the Roots of Steinbeck

PHOTO%3A+TRISH+MCHALE

PHOTO: TRISH MCHALE

PHOTO: TRISH MCHALE

After reading John Steinbeck’s classic novel “Of Mice and Men,” learning about the increasing problem of homelessness, and studying sustainable agriculture, the freshman class participated in an interdisciplinary study and field trip.
Based on the Steinbeck-related themes of the vulnerabilities and  freedoms of living a transient life, the search for happiness through the ownership of a small “sustainable” farm, and the tragedy of missed opportunities and of “dreams deferred.”
To begin the day students heard from Dr. Mimi Doohan, local family physician, who spoke about her non-profit, Doctors Without Walls—Santa Barbara Street Medicine.
Her program is run by volunteers and provides free medical care to the needy population in Santa Barbara.
“[Dr. Doohan] was abandoned on the street with her brother, so it was very inspiring to see her take her life into her own hands,” said  freshman Bryn Jewett.
Students have been learning about homelessness, world population, and the census process in their civilization classes.
They have discovered that not everyone gets counted due to the problem of homelessness; people without addresses are not included and get overlooked in the censuses.
Following Dr. Doohan’s presentation students traveled to the Gainey Vineyard and Ranch in Santa Ynez home to the iconic barn featured in the film version of the book “Of Mice and Men.”
While at the Gainey Ranch, students learned the history of ranch from owner Mr. Daniel Gainey who spoke on behalf of the winery and the organic farming that takes place at the ranch.
He discussed how  he and others have purchased adjacent land and turned it into an Agricultural Preserve.
“This ensures that the farming, habitat, and open space that exist on the property will continue in perpetuity.”
He invited students to harvest and stomp grapes that eventually would be used in the making of wine.
Following the harvest, students walked along a trail through the ranch and vineyard to the barn where they acted out scenes from the novel.
Lunch followed under the Santa Ynez sun.
The field trip experience allowed students to widen their perspectives on street medicine, sustainable agriculture, and land preservation.
This cross-curricular field trip tied together three courses: English, civilization, and biology and  brought enrichment to students’ academic understanding.
“I thought it was really cool how we got to pick grapes and stomp them,” said  freshman Annabelle Sorensen.