Many people are aware of the numerous recreational activities that Henry W. Coe State Park offers to the visiting public, but the park is also a valuable resource for many schools, youth leadership programs, and other community organizations.
The park operates an in-house, affordable program called Coe Connections that provides local schools with environmental education programs. These programs engage students in stream studies, ecology walks, field study practices, and appropriate activities that coincide with state educational standards.
The park's partnership with the Gilroy Summer Learning Program (Power School) provides free access to the park for hundreds of at-risk youth through day field trips as well as overnight camping trips. With a partnership made possible through a grant with the Packard Foundation's Summer Enrichment Initiative, students are provided with necessary equipment and staffing to experience camping and hiking excursions.
The Coe Connections program and the Power School partnership bring up to 2,000 local school students to the park each year. The Boy Scouts of America, Outward Bound, and several other youth groups also rely on the unique values that Coe Park has to offer.
Here are some of their testimonials:
We have students in our program that have never been outside of Gilroy city limits. Many of our students have never had an opportunity to go camping. Last year was our first year taking middle school students on an overnight campout to Henry Coe State Park! It was such a success that we have decided to make it a two night experience this year! They just couldn't get enough! One of the highlights of the program for the elementary school students is the field trip to Henry Coe. Students are amazed that this beautiful place is so close to their homes and they often end up taking parents up to the park.
On a personal note, my husband and I enjoy regular hikes at Henry Coe. He often takes his mountain bike to Coe to go for a ride as well. Between busy work and family schedules, Coe gives us an opportunity to stop and enjoy life. I'm not sure how we will be able to keep our sanity if Henry Coe is closed!
Amanda Reedy, Program Administrator, Power School...P.S. I Can Do It!
Gilroy Unified School District
The outdoors is a significant part of the Boy Scouts of America. Participating in camping trips, hikes, and other outdoor activities, Scouts learn basic outdoor survival skills from cooking to first aid. Among others, Henry Coe State Park has provided numerous Scouts the opportunity to appreciate the outdoors while learning valuable skills.
Shannon Shaffer, Development Director
Boy Scouts of America, Santa Clara Council
Outward Bound brings about 100 students to Henry Coe each year on 3-16 day backpack expeditions. It is a valuable resource for our leadership and character development curriculum because of its proximity to the Bay Area, its size, and year-round, easy to moderate, yet challenging terrain for the Bay Area students we serve; there are not other such ideal options that meet our needs the way Henry Coe does. Closing Henry Coe State Park would mean the loss of a vital resource to many organizations and citizens in the region and state, at a time when getting kids outdoors is a growing state and national endeavor.
Derek Rinaldo, Program Director
Bay Area Outward Bound Center
Our school has run the Sophomore Wilderness Expedition for the past 17 years. This is an 11 day backpacking trip for sophomores which is led my trained juniors and senior high school students (with faculty oversight). For the sophomores, the trip is very much about getting out of their comfort zone and experiencing the challenges of a winter backpacking trip in a remote place. Prior to 08-09, all of these trips took place in the Ventana Wilderness. Due to the Ventana fires in the summer of 2008, we needed to move our whole operation (50 students, 20 co-leaders, and 7 staff) to another Park where we could retain the style and nature of our trip. Coe fit the bill perfectly. It is large enough for 6 - 7 groups of 12 students, is in a remote, beautiful, and physically challenging location, and it provides a unique environment for us to run our program in the manner in which it was designed. Closure of the Park would have a major impact as there are few other places which we could use that would not dramatically alter our training. Although we have always hoped and planned to return to the Ventana, current conditions are still not suitable for this to happen. Coe has proven to be a safer, more user friendly, and appropriate place to hold our course. I have been following the potential closure news for the past few years, and I am very saddened by its potential for closure next summer.
Bob McCormick, Director of Outdoor Education Stevenson School
Staff preparation - February, 2011
We hiked for about 3 miles at 2am in the full moon light... I could see almost as if it was daytime, the way the moon shined off the grassy hills, and we saw about 20 deer. I could never do that or see that in the city. I didn't know such a huge, peaceful, and pretty place was so close to where I live.
Anonymous 15 year-old Arise High School student, quoted from group journal
Henry W. Coe State Park is one of the few viable settings for field research and animal tracking. It's 87,000 acres serves as a sanctuary to an abundance of wildlife and plant diversity. The Riekes Center's Nature Awareness Program provides a number of students with nature immersion programs. They have found Henry Coe an ideal venue for the intensive wilderness skills and tracking programs.
Monterey District/Gavilan Sector
We just discovered Henry Coe and its beauty through the Riekes Center's pre-teen program, and we plan to visit it more often during the year, especially since we live so close by. We are just so blessed to have this open, beautiful land to reconnect with nature, and I want my children and myself to explore more of the vast land.
Jill Kunishige, Parent
Riekes Center Nature Awareness Program
connection with nature. From seeing my first tarantula, to overnight camping with my children as part of a Nature Awareness Program with the Reikes Center, Henry Coe Park has been a valuable treasure for our family. It would be a shame to lose the opportunity to visit the Park.
Mike Boss, Parent
Reikes Center Nature Awareness Program