The mission of the Wildwoods Foundation is to equip the children, families, and educators of Los Angeles to practice the principles of ecology in creating sustainable, harmonious communities.
J'on Dennis, CPA, MSA
Dwain holds a masters degree in education from Antioch University, Los Angeles. He has studied Human Ecology, Child Development and Environmental Ethics at Santa Monica College, Field Biology at the California State University at Northridge and Environmental Education & Systems Theory and Nonprofit Management at UCLA.
Dwain has also completed the Gang Awareness and Training Education with the Southern California Counseling Center, plus training with the Wilderness Awareness School, Sunbow Ecology, Earth Skills and noted naturalist and author Joseph Cornell.
Passionate about professional development, Dwain occasionally gets back in the classroom to work with teachers on integrating ecological principles into their lesson plans and with corporate or nonprofit groups around the issues of organizational development and systems operations.
A Los Angeles native and environmentalist, Julie understands the importance of developing and nurturing a relationship with nature for urban youth to encourage new perspectives and compassion for others. She believes strongly in educational equity and giving all students no matter socio-economical, cultural, or linguistic background the opportunity to experience the beauty and lessons of nature.
Here at The Wildwoods Foundation, Julie continues her work to provide high-quality environmental education for thousands of students across Los Angeles by overseeing all of Wildwoods’ programs for schools and families.
From auction items to vendors and volunteers, she throws a heck of a party.
Ellen also handles all sponsorship opportunities. If your business wants to help support our work, connect with her.
The overall goal of the Wildwoods Foundation is to foster an urban population that is aware of, and concerned about their surrounding environment — both the natural world and their urban community — and mindful of their impact upon that environment.
Exploration that inspires a “fresh perspective” and a sense of awe and wonder is an essential piece of all of our programs. After all, our motto is “Building Community by Exploring Nature.” This is accomplished by first developing awareness skills and putting them into practice by exploring the natural world around us. The lessons and skills acquired there can then be applied back in our everyday lives. As we are able to look upon the familiar (our friends, families, co-workers or neighborhood) with “new eyes” we begin to see and appreciate things unnoticed before.
Employing a successful organizational development perspective used for many years in the corporate and engineering world, the Wildwoods Foundation’s programs bring the framework of systems thinking to the classroom. By definition, systems thinking is an understanding of the inter-relatedness of all of the components of any given group of items forming a unified whole.
In other words, it is “big picture” thinking, taking consideration of the myriad of possible connections in any given situation.
Equipped with this perspective, students develop an understanding of systems principles (or as one student phrased it “How things work”) and are able to then apply those principles in a spectrum of situations and circumstances. They learn that the principles that govern nature’s ecosystems –diversity, interdependence and sustainability– are equally important to our neighborhoods, social institutions and workplaces.
The roots of the Wildwoods Foundation stem from the school shooting at Columbine in 1999. That tragedy moved a handful of volunteers with the National Park Service to explore the possibility of expanding traditional outdoor programming to include the components of character development, personal growth and community involvement. The Wildwoods Foundation is the result of those efforts.
Magnolia PlaceThe Wildwoods Foundation opens offices at the Magnolia Place Family Center and joins the Magnolia Community Initiative, a collective impact project of more than 70 organizations serving a 500-block area south of downtown Los Angeles.
A Drop in the Bucket ReturnsTo address the California drought, the Los Angele Department of Water & Power awards a contract to the Wildwoods Foundation to revive its conservation education program at Vista Hermosa Park in downtown LA. This incarnation of the program features a mobile unit delivering the program to schools.
GEELA AwardThe Wildwoods Foundation is named as the 2012 recipient of the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award in the Environmental Education Category.
Oakgrove Turns 40The Oakgrove program celebrated its 40th anniversary.
King Middle SchoolWildwoods begins Full Circle programming with the Environmental Studies Magnet Program at King Middle School.
Eco-XWildwoods pilots the urban ecology program at 10 sites with LA’s BEST.
OakgroveThe Oakgrove program (active at Venice High School since 1972) joins the Wildwoods Foundation family.
Web of Our WorldWildwoods launches Web of Our World, the online learning component of the Full Circle program.
The Wildwoods Foundation was accepted as a project of Community Partners.
Following is a sample of the books and authors that inform and inspire our work.
Fritjof Capra: The Tao of Physics, The Web of Life, The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision, The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable Living
David Orr: Earth in Mind, Ecoliteracy
David Sobel: Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education, Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms and Communities
John Stilgoe: Outside Lies Magic
Joseph Cornell: Sharing Nature With Children, Journey to the Heart of Nature
John Dewey: Experience and Education, Democracy and Education, How We Think, Experience and Nature
Paolo Freire: Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Donella Meadows: Thinking in Systems
Peter Senge: The Fifth Discipline, The Learning Organization
Joel de Rosnay: The Macroscope
We are proud to name the following individuals and institutions as past and present supporters.
Aaroe & Associates
Adams Legacy Foundation
Alston & Bird
The Annenberg Foundation
Capital Group Companies
The Dwight Stuart Youth Fund
The Entertainment Industry Foundation
The Honorable Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Council, District 13
The Honorable Mitch O’Farrell, Los Angeles City Council, District 13
The Honorable Tom LaBonge, Los Angeles City Council, District 4
Los Angeles National Bank
The Louis L. Borick Foundation
The Max Factor Family Foundation
The Metabolic Studio
The Metropolitan Water District
The Neusteter Colorado Company
The Kenneth T. & Eileen L. Norris Foundation
The Pacific Design Center
The Roth Family Foundation
The Sierra Club Foundation
The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council
Sotheby’s International Realty
The Southern California Gas Company
Toyota Motor Sales
The Vons Foundation
The Weingart Foundation
The Wolfgang Schumann Fund
We celebrate our friends doing good work in the community.
Wilderness Youth Project
Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority
Friends of the Los Angeles River
Imagery For Kids
LA Conservation Corps
North East Trees
State Education & Environment Roundtable S.E.E.R
Association of Environmental & Outdoor Education
The Orion Society