Watershed Explorers - In Person 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 fifth-grade elementary students in American Canyon that will enhance curriculum standards in environmental science, biology, chemistry, and more.  Students participate in a three-part series focused on protecting and learning about our watersheds. The 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.

 

Sessions

Session 1: In classroom, introduction to watersheds, and 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.

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. 

 

Watershed Explorers

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What Teachers Say

"Thank you so much for creating this wonderful experience for my students. This program was a fantastic way to foster engagement with the unique and important environment that is right here in their backyards!

 

I really appreciated each person's contributions!

We are so grateful to have been a part of this pilot program. I give my full endorsement to making this program more broadly available!"

Ms.Medeiros (4th/5th Grade Teacher, Napa Junction Magnet School)

Approach

Our approach is unique in that it 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 fifth grader in American Canyon to participate in this program in the 2023-24 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. 

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What Students Say

"Thank you for making time for us to have fun and learn about cool things.  I appreciate you giving us tips... and teaching us about the wetlandsand cool and interesting facts about the Pomo Tribe!"

Eldon, 4th Grade

"Thank you for everything you taught us. My favorite part was all of the different types of animals and plants that I saw"

5th Grader

"Thank you Joy, Danielle, Sal, Jessica, Pam, and Ray! Thank you guys for teaching us about so many things. My favorite part was making the necklaces. "

5th Grader

Partners

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 Napa County Resource Conservation District

The City of American Canyon

Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District 

American Canyon Wastewater Treatment Plant 

Suscol Intertribal Council

 

Benefits

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 to make connections between subjects, helps them identify 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.  

Visit our virtual Watershed Explorers activities and field trip by clicking WEBSITE LINK.  You will learn what a watershed is and why ours is so important, how to create and use your own nature journal, and go on a virtual field trip to the American Canyon wetlands. 

Send questions to joy@acparks.org