IF has been cooperating with Watsonville Wetlands Watch (WWW) since 2017 by helping to finance stipends for three mentors who, after training, instructed over 100 grammar school students.
WWW has been working to protect freshwater wetlands through ecological restoration and education for over 20 years in Watsonville, CA. http://www.watsonvillewetlandswatch.org/aboutus.htm
Watch this wonderful introductory video to see what Watsonville Wetlands Watch is all about!
An Afternoon with Watsonville Wetlands Watch
The IF board was recently invited to join a school tour with the Watsonville Wetlands Watch. IF has supported their Wetlands Steward Program for the past two years and our grant funds intern stipends for six high school students from Pajaro Valley High School.
These interns served approximately 400 Pajaro Valley elementary and middle school students in the eight-week wetland exploration program. Staff educators, supported by interns and their elementary and middle school mentees spent many afternoons exploring the Pajaro River watershed from Corralitos Creek through the Watsonville Wetlands and down to the Monterey Bay.
Each May, the high school interns graduate from the Wetland Stewards Program, (totaling 87 students who have graduated from the year-long program this far).
Some of these students are high school seniors and are now attending schools like San Diego State, UC Berkeley and UC Davis.
The project coordinators are excited to report that these graduates are now choosing college majors in environmental fields and returning to visit the current high school interns to share their first semester of college experiences and advice.
Watsonville Wetlands Watch Wetlands Stewards program hires 12 Pajaro Valley High School students as interns to teach a hands-on after school program for elementary and middle schools in Watsonville. These interns learn about the plants, animals, and ecology of the wetlands along with methods to teach this material to younger students.
The Wetland Steward interns lead elementary and middle school students in activities such as kayaking, water quality testing, bird watching, and art for over 200 students each year. These activities create connection between students, their community, and nature in a positive and healthy environment.
The high school role models inspire younger students to care about the environment and encourage them to make a difference in their community.
Over the course of this program, the high-school students earn a stipend while learning leadership and professional development skills. They build confidence and gain valuable career experiences. These memorable experiences develop community and help to prepare them to be future leaders and change makers in the world.
Here is an article about one of the Wetland Steward interns in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Photos by Emily Howard, Director of Educational Programs of the Wetlands Stewards Program at WWW.