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The York Outdoor Laboratory provides education and research programs in field biology, ecology, natural history, geosciences, and the history of land use practices for York students and the Central Coast community. 

The York Outdoor Laboratory program, created by a land transfer completed in 2011, leaves much of the 101 acres of native maritime chaparral land in its natural state, in fulfillment of York’s environmental education program. Our students and collaborators from nearby schools and universities have the potential to research topics such as:

  • Studies to support long-term monitoring of the habitat
  • Preliminary surveys of birds, reptiles, mammals, and insects
  • Vegetation analysis and mapping
  • Mapping of invasive plant species
  • Seed dispersal patterns/recruitment of native and invasive plant species
  • Successful restoration of native plant communities in disturbed areas
  • Natural history and human occupancy/history on these lands
  • Factors affecting erosion and erosion control
Environmental Science Curriculum

Our Environmental Science course, a yearlong laboratory course with an emphasis on examining major environmental issues from multiple viewpoints, focuses on five main areas:
  • The interconnectedness of ecosystems and how humans affect them
  • Human populations and land use
  • Water mismanagement issues
  • Energy systems
  • Causes of and solutions to global pollution
York students use the Outdoor Lab to study natural history and ecology and to gain competence in basic ecology, field techniques, and methods of scientific research and writing. Students will be trained as nature walk leaders/interpreters who will conduct nature walks for community groups, elementary school students, outdoor camp students, teachers, and others.

Lessons learned in the natural systems of the Outdoor Laboratory will engender broader learning in environmental stewardship. Our students engage in a variety of green projects across the campus, providing peer-to-peer education and emphasizing environmental sustainability in their lives.

Physical Education/Athletics

The York School athletic fields, on land previously leased from the U.S. Army, encompass approximately 30 of the 101 acres of the former Fort Ord property. York’s lacrosse, soccer, and field hockey teams practice and play on these fields. A cross country trail runs through the Outdoor Laboratory, serving Central Coast runners by providing a challenging five-kilometer course through the native maritime chaparral landscape.

Expanded Curriculum

York’s Art and English departments are incorporating the land into their curricula with programs such as landscape painting, studies of flora and fauna, observational journaling, nature writing, and philosophy.

The remaining acreage is in a largely natural state, with the exception of a graded firebreak. The Outdoor Laboratory, adjacent to the Fort Ord Natural Reserve to the north, functions as an extension of the Reserve’s living resources to the York School campus to the south.
Created and maintained by York students.

York School

9501 York Road
Monterey, CA 93940
Phone: 831-372-7338
We inspire and prepare a diverse community of creative, independent thinkers.
Since 1959, York School has created an exceptional college-prep experience for our youth: inspiring them to develop intellectual curiosity; challenging them to create and try new things; and preparing them to be passionate contributors in college and in life.