deer program camping trip

In 2016, thousands of people benefited from the County’s Discovering the Environment through Education and Recreation (DEER) program. The County provides a variety of educational and recreational activities through DEER to enrich residents’ and visitors’ lives, while also protecting local natural, cultural, and historical resources.

For five years, this unique program has helped educate children and offer them fun outdoor activities that encourage stewardship of our local environment.

Outdoor Discover Festival 2016 at Lopez Lake
Outdoor Discover Festival 2016 at Lopez Lake

In 2016, the DEER program delivered a variety of fun outdoor activities, including evening campfire shows with songs and games; interpretive nature hikes, through local wild areas; recreation opportunities like kayaking and mountain biking; fishing clinics; and interpretive boat tours.

In addition, the DEER program participated in special events with local schools, and numerous other youth organizations, including:  Camp Hope; Earth Day; and Sheriff’s Day at the Ranch.

More than 2,000 people attended one of the DEER program’s largest events in 2016: The Outdoor Discovery Festival. In its fifth consecutive year, the festival took place at Lopez Lake and included 33 booths that provided environmental activities, public safety education, family fun activities, outdoor recreation, and wildlife interpretation.  The festival even started with a Family Fun Run and attendees enjoyed two musical bands throughout the day.

The DEER program also reached thousands of people at its 2016 Mid-State Fair booth in the summer. County Parks staff provided activities for kids, including opportunities to see and touch local wildlife.

The DEER program is funded with a California State Habitat Conservation Fund Grant, the Hind Foundation, a Take Me Fishing Grant, and County Parks. The program uses additional partners, stakeholders, and volunteers to contribute to its long-term sustainability.  Support from community groups, as well as private sector, and nonprofit organizations have been, and will continue to be, imperative to ensure the program’s success.

A DEER program class taught at Lopez Lake in 2016
A DEER program class taught at Lopez Lake in 2016

The County established the DEER program in partnership with local support groups, such as the City of San Luis Obispo Parks, Open Space and Trails; Friends of Lopez Lake; local and knowledgeable volunteers; and the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo County.  Cal Poly State University also provided four interns to assist with the organization of the DEER program operations in 2016.

The DEER program provides many outdoor adventures to those who have none.  It teaches people to be good stewards to nature and their community.

At its heart, DEER delivers on the core values that guide and inspire the County: integrity, respect, quality, teamwork, leadership, personal growth, and fun.