marine science Dennis Kelly, will lecture tonight about their trip
and what they see as its future role for the school.
"Next summer we'd like to get groups of 12 to 16 students to go
for seven to 10 days at a time for classes in marine science or
kayaking or photography and things like that," Doug Bennett, director
of the college's foundation, said.
The OCC Foundation received the 36-acre island in British Columbia
earlier this year as a donation from Southern California yachtsman
Henry Wheeler. The island has been appraised at $750,000.
In June, a group of 12 students, faculty, staff, administrators
and local residents visited the island for a four-day scouting trip.
While there, they studied its plants, animals, sea life and waterways
on foot and by kayak.
Bennett said that it took the better part of a day -- from 5 a.m.
to 9:30 p.m. to get to Rabbit Island by plane, truck and boat. Rabbit
Island lies near the Straights of Georgia, about 50 miles from
"The island happens to sit next to a passage where killer whales
go from north British Columbia to South British Columbia and back,"
Kelly said. "Whale and marine mammal watching can be done, we can
study island ecology, survey trees, clean up the island, identify and
count plants. We found that the island even has lizards and snakes."
Kelly said that a variety of birds, including bald eagles, live on
Rabbit Island. A large span between high and low tides -- 16 feet,
compared to five or six locally -- also provides opportunities to
study sea life.
He has already proposed a class to study the island's intertidal
system next summer.
The island has a lodge, four cabins, a working kitchen,
electricity and one flush toilet. Bennett said that the OCC
Foundation will spend $100,000 to add more toilets, improve the
electrical systems and upgrade more amenities.
When work is finished, he expects it could accommodate 16 to 20
people at a time. Even with the updates, Bennett said it will still
be more of an "Outward Bound" type of adventure for students than an
"It's a whole different environment than Orange County," he said.
"You're out in nature, the electricity isn't always reliable. But
when you go out at night, you see a lot more stars."
Bennett said that faculty members are exploring teaching options
on Rabbit Island for next summer. He hopes that the school can
arrange credit courses on the island for a total cost of about $1,000
to $1,500 for students, including transportation, food,
accommodations and instruction.
* MARISA O'NEIL covers education and may be reached at (949)
574-4268 or by e-mail at email@example.com.