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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

2009 Environmental Education Grants

Teachers are the advance guard of tomorrow's environmental protectors

Region 9 is pleased to fulfill its mission to provide environmental education by helping to support the programs of non-profits in Fiscal Year 2009, by granting them over $186,000.

2009 Grant Program Recipients

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum   $22,052
Debra Claire Colodner, 2021 North Kinney Road, Tucson, AZ 85743
"Adapting to Aridity"
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum, and botanical garden. Its mission is to inspire visitors to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering appreciation and understanding of the Sonoran Desert. Museum outreach programs serve children at schools, community centers, and libraries, in a region with a significant Hispanic population, a portion of which lives below the poverty level. The Adapting to Aridity project focuses on adaptations of desert plants and animals and how people can best manage precious resources in an arid environment. Development of a day-long teacher education workshop includes a segment on human water use and its impact on wildlife and introduces participants to resources for examining and managing their own use of water. Teacher education provides practice with digital resources and techniques for whole-class, small group, and individual instruction on site and on outdoor field trips. Five workshops train teachers for instruction of grades 3 through 6. To enhance the long-term potential to change awareness of desert adaptation and human water use, the project builds on the museum's existing digital library by creating informational pages and interactive games featuring Adapting to Aridity project topics.

Alameda County Waste Management Authority   $15,000
Michelle LeBeau, 1537 Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612
"Regional Bay-Friendly Sustainable Gardening Project"
The Regional Bay-Friendly Sustainable Gardening Project of Alameda County conducts three workshops and distributes guidebooks on best management practices for home gardeners, addressing a wide range of environmental concerns. The Bay-Friendly approach to landscaping and gardening is holistic and is based on principals identified to foster the health of the soil and conserve water and other valuable resources, while reducing waste and preventing pollution. It protects California's unique ecosystems, including the San Francisco bay watershed, which covers 40 percent of the state. Workshop topics include composting and soil health, integrated pest management, planting for pollinators, selecting appropriate plants, water conservation, and sustainable garden design. The program's guidebook, a comprehensive reference on the design and day-to-day maintenance of sustainable gardens, is distributed more broadly to the general population of home gardeners.

Center for Land Based Learning   $15,000
Mary Kimball, 5265 Putah Creek Road, Winters, CA 95694
"Restoring Ecosystems with High School Students"
The Center for Land Based Learning expands its Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship (SLEWS) high school program by bringing together high school classes from Sonoma and Napa Counties. The environmental issues addressed are cross cutting and include sustainability, clean water, ecosystem protection and restoration, wildlife habitat, watershed management, and reduced erosion. Each SLEWS high school adopts a habitat restoration project for the duration of the school year. The program develops an intra-school dynamic in keeping with the basis of the center's work: "A strong connection to the natural world is a foundation of community." The experiential nature of the learning supports understanding of the critical interplay of agriculture, nature, and society. The intra-school community is primarily composed of high school sophomores and juniors. The expanded program engages young people in real projects that improve environmental quality while promoting stewardship skills, values, and behaviors.

Coastal Watershed Council   $24,856
Nik Strong-Cvetich, 345 Lake Avenue, Suite F, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
"Trees to Sea Watershed Education Program"
The Trees to Sea Watershed Education Program maintains a living classroom onboard a catamaran sailing the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This catamaran is the schoolhouse for a segment of the Coastal Watershed Council's 5-day comprehensive summer watershed education pilot program serving students in grades 4 through 6. Hands-on lessons about the marine habitat and its ecological importance are directly linked to the idea of watershed connectivity with the ocean. The program is broken down in phases according to the watershed with field trips to its various features. The curriculum balances science skills, recreation, and topical learning, covering ecosystems of the upper watershed, the urban watershed, the estuary, and inter-tidal areas. In this extraordinary setting, students are equipped with environmental science and leadership skills, which foster a sense of stewardship in their local watershed.

Earth Team   $24,563
Maggie Fleming, 2530 San Pablo Avenue, Suite L, Berkeley, CA 94702
"Something's in the Air"
Earth Team is a community-based education organization that engages teens and teachers in dynamic media, health, and environmental restoration projects. Something's in the Air (SITA), a health science unit, educates high school students on asthma and air quality in their schools and communities. SITA students volunteer in an after-school workshop to develop action plans for educating others. The program engages students in environmental science investigations that promote inquiry skills. Research includes interaction with four guest experts in relevant fields. The students develop and implement action plans for community education, produce a television documentary for the public, and provide curriculum, resources, and assistance to eight classroom teachers at four high schools. The program engages in community stewardship, using youth leadership, to increase awareness of asthma mitigation techniques. The SITA classroom component (under development) raises awareness of the relationship between air quality and asthma and ways to improve the indoor and outdoor environments for improved respiratory health.

Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation   $19,020
Mark Green, P.O. Box 7886, Santa Rosa, CA 95407
"Public Watershed Education"
The Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation works to protect, restore, and encourage public appreciation and stewardship of the North Bay Area region of California's most biologically diverse area. Volunteer educators are recruited for a 10-week training course in ecology, ecosystems, characteristic species, and ecosystem services provided by the Laguna de Santa Rosa wetland complex. When they have completed the training, the new recruits teach in the Learning Laguna classroom and field trip program serving local elementary students in grades 2 through 5. They also provide guided tours for members of the public annually. The education program, which is based on a curriculum that meets California teaching standards, typically results in at least 1,300 hours of docent service over the 2-year commitment period. This estimate is conservative, as many education volunteers stay in the program. One of Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation's goals in raising public awareness of the wetland ecosystem is to encourage household behaviors that reduce pollution, and to increase environmental literacy and promote environmental stewardship. Project partners include the City of Santa Rosa and area elementary schools.

LandPaths – Land Partners Through Stewardship   $13,040
Bree Benton, 618 4th St., Santa Rosa, CA 95401
"Native Grassland Restoration at Glen Oaks Ranch"
LandPaths fosters appreciation for the land through public outings and environmental education and stewardship. It reaches all sectors of the local community through In Our Own Back Yard (IOOBY), a stewardship program. Partner Sonoma Land Trust owns Glen Oaks Ranch, 234 protected acres with oak woodland, chaparral, open meadows and vineyards. Twelve field trips and six classroom presentations highlight LandPath’s restoration calendar and electronic information about collecting and cultivating seed from native grasses on site, transplanting new growth, and monitoring restoration progress. Four fieldtrips with themes for third grade students focus respectively on discovery and exploration, watersheds, habitat, and stewardship. Three stewardship days are open to the public, with third-grade students teaching about the project and about the importance of healthy grassland ecosystems. Among the LandPath’s stewardship goals are to prevent erosion into Stuart Creek, allowing steelhead to thrive, and to protect critical habitat for other native species, such as bobcat, mountain lion, and grey fox.

Pro Peninsula   $13,285
Frances Marie Kinney, P.O. Box 3953, San Diego, CA 92163
"Ocean Connectors"
Pro Peninsula is an organization dedicated to empowering individuals, communities, and other organizations throughout San Diego and the Baja California Peninsula to protect and preserve the environment. Ocean Connectors, its environmental education program, crosses borders and cultural boundaries by linking elementary students in the U.S. and Mexico to create a shared learning environment and a shared sense of stewardship of coastal resources. Ocean Connectors promotes a bi-national pen-pal letter exchange and conducts three field trips, introducing students to national wildlife refuges and allowing them opportunities to form personal connections with nature. Classroom presentations support field learning. Study of migratory aquatic species and their habits is used to teach ocean conservation principles and to connect the student populations, grades 4 through 6, on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Through the program, students in low-income schools are able to study the connections between terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems. Extended learning, once the project is completed, takes place through an online children's Web page.

Sierra Institute for Community and Environment   $25,000
Jonathan Paul Kusel, 4438 Main Street, Plumas, CA 95983
"Natural Resource Academy's Stewardship and Field Research Program"
The Sierra Institute for Community and Environment is an education organization dedicated to advancing rural community health and sustainable ecosystem management. This organization developed and implemented the Natural Resources Academy (Academy) for grades 7 through 12, in partnership with the Plumas Unified School District and staff at Greenville Junior/Senior High School. As a result, the education program is based on California teaching standards. Sierra's key partners include the Plumas National Forest and the California Department of Transportation. The academy is developing a field program to advance outdoor learning and promote environmental stewardship as well as, secondarily, to encourage career development. Through rigorous focused field studies, students connect to their rural landscape, which was significantly impaired by a fire in 2007. The field program powerfully combines learning and on-the-ground action through work in the watershed and restoration of portions of 65,000 fire-damaged acres. Students in grades 7 through 12 are given the motivational opportunity to improve in all subjects as a result of their dynamic involvement with the environment. Lead teachers receive training, along with staff and administrators. As the academy is shared with other school districts, the stewardship force is expected to expand, benefiting the damaged landscape.

Sierra Nevada Journeys - $14,980

Jonathan Mueller, 1301 Cordone Avenue, Suite 110, Reno, NV 89502

“Western Nevada's Green Schools Initiative”
The goal of Sierra Nevada Journeys is to empower youth through positive risk taking and experiential leadership, science, and outdoor education. Its programs supplement school district classes with opportunities for students to connect with the natural world. Western Nevada's Green Schools Initiative, a new program, provides after-school science clubs and outreach programs, as well as teacher professional development. Elementary, middle, and high school students brainstorm and learn about personal and community values relating to the environment and the definition of a green school. In this hands-on, kinesthetic education program, students conduct health assessments relative to pollution, implement service learning projects, and perform combined health assessments and energy audits of their schools. The final learning experience is brainstorming potential improvement projects and proposing them to teachers and school administrators. The initiative teaches community stewardship, with a secondary emphasis on health, and provides career development on these topics to teachers.

Sierra Nevada Journeys' Western Nevada's Green Schools Initiative Web site Exiting EPA (disclaimer)

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