April 2, 2018

STEM Community Scholars Embark on Tierra Excursion

By Office of Communications

students at stem field trip

San Diego Mesa College Foundation was selected to receive a generous grant from the Science & Technology Grants Program from the San Diego Foundation on January 15, 2018. This funded the opportunity for Mesa College STEM students to participate in a field trip on Friday, March 2, 2018 entitled Tierra Excursion. The trip included a tour of Wild Willow Farm, a sustainable farm with educational resources, and a visit to the Tijuana River Estuary, an area of land in Imperial Beach where the Tijuana River meets the Pacific Ocean.

Wild Willow Farm offered the STEM scholars the opportunity to learn about sustainable management and business practices, and sustainable efforts relative to the environment. Their time at the farm was divided into four sections – kid’s garden, herbs and history, plants and their uses, and the earthworm – in order for the students to learn about how profits are generated through sustainable farm work. Experiencing a day of work at this organization gave some of the STEM scholars the chance to envision themselves in their future careers. STEM scholar and Environmental Engineer Major Flavia DePlachett shared, “If not for these field trips, I would not be able to see how vast my options are as a STEM major… The exposure that these field trips provide is a great chance for us students to become excellent professionals by choosing what matches our goals and personalities the best.”

Through their experience, students were alsotierra excursion garden able to draw connections between the field trip to the farm and larger concepts in life. STEM Scholar and Molecular Biology Neuroscience Major Tahmina Habibzada stated, “A healthy garden is like a healthy mind – the more time and effort we put into ourselves the better we become.”


Students also gained knowledge about particular species from their visit to the Tijuana River Estuary where they spoke with Rangers about migratory patterns of birds in the United States and outer regions. After their time with the Ranger, students were encouraged to practice their “elevator speech” with their fellow classmates.

These experiences from the Tierra Excursion field trip would not have been possible, if not for the grant. Students had the opportunity to apply and receive one of 13 available $5,000 STEM Stipend for spring 2018. As a condition of the grant, students must attend five out of six field trips, be enrolled in at least one class at San Diego Mesa College, be a STEM major or hold interest in a STEM program. Up to 35 additional students were able to qualify for all-expense paid STEM career field trips. Additional funding under the HSI/Title III STEM Conexiones Program was provided for these initiatives. To learn more, please contact HIS Grant Manager Dr. Leticia Lopez at

Tags: Tierra Excursion, STEM Students, Wild Willow Farm, Tijuana River Estuary, STEM, STEM Scholars, STEM Field Trip, STEM Conexiones