Protecting the health of the watershed begins by creating a connection between the community and the wetlands. In the Wetland Stewards program, we train high school students to serve as mentors to middle and elementary school students through their local after-school programs. Together they explore the wetlands through both field trips and classroom-based activities. Presented in collaboration with the TEACH Project at the Pájaro Valley Unified School District, this program is designed to foster the next generation of environmental leaders.
Wetland Wonders is a year-long program for fifth-graders that revolves around hands-on, student-lead exploration of the question “How healthy are the wetlands?” Student scientists design their own investigations, then collect and analyze data that helps answer this question. This program is designed around the experiential learning model, and supports Next Generation Science Standards.
Green Careers Institute
The Green Careers Institute exposes teens to a wide range of green careers, and to learn which skills are needed for those careers. Among the careers discussed are water quality management, ocean health, organic farming, and habitat restoration. Students gain an understanding the impact of climate change and other environmental challenges facing the community, and develop networks with local green career professionals. The program finishes up with a job readiness course during the fall term of the following school year.
Project Tierra is a community-science program that engages students and community volunteers in collecting and recording environmental science data in order to monitor the overall biodiversity and health of the Watsonville wetlands. While the program’s environmental focus produces data---for the students as well as the larger scientific community—on water quality and on plant and bird populations, the field-based research also increases the community’s understanding of the importance of biodiversity, sustainable land management practices, and environmental stewardship.