A Sense of Background ...

Who and Why

Program Context & Background

Hidden Corner is a public resource that seeks to connect local families and children to nature within the Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez and Channel Island watersheds. Introducing the idea of geoeducation, which is a blend of outdoor recreation, environmental education, natural history interpretation, play and practical observation,
a unique program has been fashioned to achieve this.

The program was designed to serve educators, parents and youth leaders, and is especially well positioned for homeschooling families. Hidden Corner also seeks to function as a portal to similar endeavors by other organizations, making it easy for a program leader or parent to plan a series of educational adventures. We also wanted to highlight what the scientific literature is saying about the pitfalls of excessive digital connectivity, providing significant outdoor alternatives to digital play. We want to be part of the solution.

The bioregional approach seemed perfectly suited to achieve this mission. It does not propose any political viewpoint but positions the landscape as a backdrop for connections. In the process we recognize that biodiversity, conservation and environmental issues are intricately linked to that backdrop, and as such provide important context for any environmental lesson or discussion. We don’t suggest that our program can serve as a panacea for these challenges, but we offer it as an important part of the answer.


Ian Vorster immigrated to Santa Barbara from South Africa where he directed operations and communications for an outdoor education program. Involved for more than ten years in environmental education, ecotourism and conservation on that continent, he was deeply connected to the landscapes and living inhabitants of Africa. The sense of displacement Ian felt upon arrival in California fueled a desire to better understand geographical connections and to connect his family to their new lifeplace. The Hidden Corner program is the culmination of that journey.


Ian Vorster

Ian has an AA in Photography and Graphic Design, a BA in Education with Geography and Physical Education majors and a MS in Environmental Studies. He has written regional outdoor guides, recreation and travel articles, and photographed the subject for magazines and newspapers in the US, UK, Canada and South Africa. Actively involved in conservation, citizen science and restoration efforts over the last twenty years, he has logged more than 400 days leading groups on educational adventures and has been certified as a river guide, cycle coach, adventure and natural history guide.

In a broader professional sense Ian has program administration, messaging, public relations, and marketing communications experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sector. His expertise includes building strong brands, launching new programs and products, developing strategies with user-centered design that realize meaningful near-term growth, and building strong, outcome-oriented teams.

Key Concepts
Also linked in other relevant sections.


Current Affairs
What the media is saying.

The America's Great Outdoors initiative is a broad map drawn to reconnect us with the outdoors and outline how the country can preserve its natural landscape. But how timely, in light of current fiscal winds, is it, and couldn't many of its goals have
been achieved without this 111-page initiative?
February 21, 2011 - National Parks Traveller

President Barack Obama promoted a new effort to protect public lands and boost conservation, an initiative that rebrands current programs under a
new name. Febuary 16, 2011 - Washington Post.

The No Child Left Inside Coalition cheers the
U.S. Department of Education for including environmental literacy in its budget for the very
first time. February 3, 2010 - abcdirectory.com

After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory, and suffers from reduced self-control.
January 2, 2009 - Boston.com

When George Thomas was eight he walked everywhere. It was 1926 and his parents were unable to afford a bike. He regularly tramped
six miles to his favorite fishing haunt without
adult supervision. Fast forward to 2007 and
his grandson enjoys none of that freedom.
June 15, 2007 - UK Daily Mail