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Santana Special Education Students Keep Edgemoor Barn Looking Good

Students get direction and help out the Historical Society, River Park Foundation, County and everyone who drives by the iconic barn.

A group of Transition special education students is working with the and San Diego River Park Foundation (SDRPF), keeping up the landscaping around the and getting some vocational training in as well.

Santana Transition is a service for students age 18-22 who are in special education on an individualized education program, according to Erika Youngblood, a teacher with the program.

A large part of the Transition program is vocational training, so as a new teacher, Youngblood needed a job site for her students. She happened upon the Santee Historical Society website that had a call out for anyone willing to volunteer.  

"I called up , who handles all potential volunteers, and he was more than welcoming of my class!" said Youngblood.

The students began by weeding and getting used to the tools, and each one has their own tasks that the are comfortable with- even if that just means keeping an eye on the clock for when the group is done for the day and ready to take the bus for a lunch well earned.

"My students who work at Edgemoor barn have learned so much already from the experience, and I believe much of that is due in large part to the members of Santee Historical Society and the SDRPF who come out and help lead my students at the garden," said Youngblood.

"People take for granted that one should know how to take instruction from a job supervisor, but for my students, that lesson in itself is one that can be hard to come by," she said.

The SDRPF provides the tools, seeds and native plants for the project. The County of San Diego owns the historical barn that was once part of the Edgmoore Hospital and the Santee Historical Society has a use agreement for the inside main floor to . 

The SDRPF has partnered with the Historical Society to plant a around the barn, concentrating on plants with historical uses. 

"Our attempt to plant a 'historically accurate' vegetable garden has been thwarted by some historically accurate rodents, but we will keep tying to win that battle, just like the early settlers did," said Strawn, who from the SDRPF side of things.

One of the biggest projects the group completed was the clearing of the fenced yard next to the barn, which had head high weeds and grass growing past the point of fire danger.

"I think the most rewarding, singular experience so far this year has been when my students were able to really help out the barn and Historical Society by clearing all of the brush around the barn that would be deemed a fire hazard," said Youngblood. 

The reciprocal relationship seems to be doing wonders for both groups, keeping one of Santee's last historical sites looking good and fulfilling the needs of some special local students. 

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