Watershed Explorers - Pilot Program
The Napa River Bay Trail, Wetlands Edge trailhead is the heart of the American Canyon outdoor community. This beautiful spot is one of the most biodiverse areas of the San Francisco Bay Area and is easily accessible to the community. Our new Watershed Explorers program is a standard program for fourth grade elementary students in American Canyon that will enhance curriculum standards in environmental science, biology, chemistry and more. Students participate in a four-part series focused on protecting and learning about our watersheds. Curriculum is aligned with school science standards. The goal of Watershed Explorers is to protect our environment by getting students involved in hands-on learning about healthy ecosystems, water quality, plant and animal lifecycles, and the human impact on our surrounding habitats.
Session 1: In classroom, introduction to watersheds, sustainable ecosystems. Students create field guides.
Session 2: Wetlands Field Day. Classrooms visit Wetlands trails. There students will have the opportunity to get "hands on" by testing water, measuring flow, tracking animal behavior and more. Students will study plankton and other water microorganisms.
Session 3: On campus eco-system study. Students will participate in a campus trash audit, learn where trash goes and study in the various environments around their campuses.
Session 4: Final field day: Visit to Bothe Park in Calistoga or to Trancas Crossing to study creek and river sediments and learn about the top of the watershed.
Students participate in pre and post program surveys to document their desire to protect our watersheds, engagement in learning, and interest in further conservation careers.
Our approach is unique in that is pulls in experts in their field of study to give children an opportunity to learn "from the source". In addition, students are out of the classroom and in the natural environment allowing them to study hands-on. The purpose of the project is to motivate youth to protect our watersheds by getting students real world learning about healthy ecosystems, water quality, and plant and animal lifecycles. Our goal is for every fourth grader in American Canyon to participate in this program in the 2020-2021 school year. That's nearly 400 students, 13 teachers, and 75 parent helpers participating. Furthermore, students will participate in mentor sessions where they engage with younger students, or even the entire school, to share their newfound knowledge. These sessions will reach another 350 younger students. Finally, students who participate in the program will have a family project related to their Watershed Explorers experience.
Watershed Explorers is reliant on many strong partnerships. We have four classrooms at two elementary schools that are participating in our first round of programming, and a long list of teachers at all three elementary schools that want to participate in the 2020-2021 school year. We are thrilled to be working with several partners who have helped with curriculum design including:
The benefits of environmental education are many. Participation in these hands-on programs helps students develop their leadership skills, promotes problem solving, encourages critical thinking, fosters a love of learning, encourages them make connections between subjects, helps them identity science as an academic career, and promotes physical activity. We are grateful to the Napa Valley Vintners for generous grant funding in support of Watershed Explorers.