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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

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

2008 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 2008, by granting them approximately $219,000.

2008 Grant Program Recipients


Art from Scrap - $9,249

Cay Sanchez, 302 E. Cota St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101

“AFS Green Schools Teacher Training”
Getting ourselves back to the garden is the method Art from Scrap, Green Schools proposes to teach elementary school children in Santa Barbara County appreciation of the natural world. This teacher education program is the first step to promoting positive messages about environmental stewardship in Santa Barbara County schools. It offers the beginnings of a social foundation for encouraging environmental practices that enhance land use for tourism and mitigate the potential for groundwater contamination from commercial use of pesticides and fertilizers in regional agriculture. AFS Green Schools will provide workshops in organic gardening and in composting to as many as 160 classroom teachers, student teachers, classroom aides, parent volunteers, and administrators. Program partner Healing Grounds Nursery will provide free plant seedlings and composting worms, the living beginnings for a laboratory where age-appropriate experiments will be conducted everyday in the most natural way, as children cognitively and physically engage with nature. The fruit of the garden for the community will be the opportunity it provides children to internalize positive associations with stewardship of the environment.

Art From Scrap's Green Schools Presentations Web site Exiting EPA (disclaimer)

Alaka'ina Foundation - $28,856

Todd P. Lawson, 1600 Kapiolani Blvd., Ste. 530, Oahu, HI 96814

Maybelle Little teaches  at The Arboretum at Flagstaff

“Maui Malama Kahakai Project - Maui Take Care of the Beach”
The Alaka'ina Foundation provides science and technology education opportunities to public schools in the county of Maui. The Maui Malama Kahakai (Maui Take Care of the Beach) project will employ beach cleanup activities and ongoing observation of the costal ecosystem by youth as a foundation for long-term stewardship of the ocean environment. It seeks to increase public awareness of an environmental threat to which Hawaii is particularly vulnerable-manmade marine debris brought in a "trash gyre" from thousands of miles away. Some 330 K-5 students and their teachers from the new Pomaka'i elementary school will confront the gyre's destructive potential by adopting the 27-acre shorefront of the Waihe'e Preserve. During outings, students will focus on the direct effects of pollution and study shore animal life and habitats, including endangered species. The project will partner with the Maui Coastal Land Trust and the Department of Land and Natural Resources in developing an ocean-literate student body and heightened public sensitivity to manmade marine debris. Although significant concern has been established for the harmful effects of manmade marine debris for other locations, to date little attention has been given to the Waihe'e Preserve.

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San Jose Children's Discovery Museum - $39,800

Jenni Martin, 180 Woz Way, San Jose, CA 95110

Creek restoration
Creek restoration

“BioSITE: Students Investigating Their Environment”
The Guadalupe River in San Jose is adapting to massive ecological change following completion of a $100 million urban park and flood control project. BioSITE (Bio- Students Investigating their Environment) is dedicated to engaging students in grades 4-12 in the ecological restoration of the river, including research and observation of water issues, animal adaptation, fish habitats, life cycles, and bird migration. Its parent organization, the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose, promotes "volitional learning through interactive exhibits and programs that engage children in a meaningful inquiry process." This comprehensive environmental education program, including teacher training in support of learning that is contextualized and concrete, will provide high school students with opportunities to gain practical understanding of natural systems, while participating in journaling, cross-age mentoring, public outreach activities, and service projects. BioSITE currently serves 1,200 students and 35 teachers from 30 schools annually. Elementary grades 3-6 are served by an after-school program and a curriculum that includes water research activities. BioSITE, if not the Guadalupe River, is a persuasive force and model for educational reform: over 50 percent of its students are considering careers in environmental science or science teaching.

San Jose Children's Discovery Museum's BioSITE Online Web site Exiting EPA (disclaimer)

Friends of the Dunes - $15,000

Margaret Stoudnour, P.O. Box 186, Arcata, CA 95518

“Kids Coastal Ed and Collaboration Initiative”
The Humboldt Bay beaches and dunes are the largest continuous dune system in northern California, with a variety of wildlife habitats. They provide an ideal outdoor classroom for environmental education along 34 miles of coast. For 25 years, Friends of the Dunes has supported environmental education and stewardship programs on the Samoa Peninsula, with its dune forest, beach, and freshwater wetlands. With the recent purchase by Friends of the Dunes of a 35-acre property on the peninsula, the outdoor classroom is about to gain something akin to university stature among natural teaching settings. The Humboldt Bay Coastal Education Center and Reserve, including a trail system, will be created there as a center for regional coastal education. The current community stewardship project will overhaul and adapt all programming to meet the project's expanded scope. Stronger connections with schools and a weeklong non-residential summer camp for 8-12 year-olds are planned. Guides trained for field trips will develop games based in concepts such as predator and prey. A daylong Fall and Spring elementary school field-trip program, an Adopt a Dune service program, and an annual Ocean Day event currently serve 1,800 students in grades 3-6 and their teachers. The "campus" that is the Humboldt Bay coastline and the new center will accommodate the need for increasing numbers of kids to have graduated from nature's school of environmental stewardship.

Friends of the Dunes Web site Exiting EPA (disclaimer)

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Students digging

The Regents of the University of California - $29,897

Penelope J. Walgenback, 1850 Research Park Dr., Ste. 300, Davis, CA 95616

“Envirovet Summer Institute 2009”
The Regents of the University of California at Davis see the paradigm shift in veterinary medicine underway as an opportunity to respond to the large and looming environmental crises of our day-climate change, habitat degradation, loss of biodiversity, chemical and biological contamination, and specie invasion. The Envirovet Summer Institute is phase one in meeting the commitment to the training and preparation of promising individuals who can assume leadership roles in programs that work towards more sustainable ecosystems for man and animal. It provides veterinary students and professionals with career paths and the initial tools for making long-range investments in environmental research and protection, so crucial to our times. As it moves closer in focus to its agrarian origins, ensuring food safety, and crop production and transportation, veterinary medicine is fertile ground for developing future environmental leaders. During an eight-week immersion, 25 veterinarians and veterinary students will engage in didactic and experiential learning on topics ranging from environmental toxicology to wildlife conservation, and from ecological economics to environmental law and global citizenship. Ultimately, the desired outcome will be that veterinarians will tend not only to our domestic animal companions and to livestock but to all wildlife.

U.C. Davis Envirovet Summer Institute Web site Exiting EPA (disclaimer)

ABOR/Northern Arizona University - $15,000

James Allen, 1501 S. Knoles Dr., Bldg. 56, Ste. 240, Flagstaff, AZ 86011

“Junior Forester Academy”
Due to the enormity of the issues and problems surrounding global climate change, solutions must be sought at the local level in each of our communities. Northern Arizona University addresses this reality by modeling it-by offering a week-long overnight summer camp focusing on finding solutions to global climate change and on empowering students within the context of environmental career potential. A collaboration between the College of Education and School of Forestry, the Junior Forester Academy program will bring together Arizona youth, ages thirteen through sixteen years, in career groups lead by experts in the environmental sciences. Among the career fields to be introduced are environmental engineering, forestry, political science, and conservation. Teaching staff recruited from college campuses throughout the United States will undergo rigorous training in the climate-change curriculum and in hands-on learning techniques that engage students. This highly structured program includes in-class learning, projects and activities, guest speakers, a National Science Foundation field trip, and fieldwork. Each career group will create a professional presentation, to be given before a panel of experts and community members. Empowered with new visions of their career opportunities and the initial tools to do something positive for the environment, thirty students total will represent the community based model for solutions to global climate change.

Northern Arizona University's Junior Forester Academy Web site Exiting EPA (disclaimer)

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The Kohala Center - $24,224

Gregory Smitman, 65 1271-A Kawaihae Rd., Kamuela, HI 96743

“Environmental Ed.: Replicating Kahaluu Reef Teach”
Each of the Hawaiian Islands has a premiere beach or reef complex that is a well trod tourist destination point. Of the three million tourists who visit the Islands annually, Kahalu'u Bay receives over 400,000 visitors. To reduce tourism's negative impact, The Kohala Center has developed the Saving Kahalu'u Bay as part of the Reef Teach network. Through instruction of environmental stewardship principals, visitors learn how to experience the reef ecosystem without disturbing turtles, monk seals, and other reef inhabitants. At one time, the bay courted its own destruction as the premier reef encounter with safe clear, shallow water and abundant tropical reef fishes. Today, over 100 trained and dedicated volunteers teach visitors how to distinguish and protect living coral and rock, and how to experience the reef without threatening its ecology. Participants in the pilot Reef Teach were found to cause 93 percent less damage to the fragile coral reef when compared with non-participants. The scope of the expanded community education and stewardship network will raise awareness of "reef etiquette" and literally reduce the footprint of a growing audience, including 175,000 Big Island residents.

The Kohala Center Web site Exiting EPA (disclaimer)

Earth Island Institute - $20,000

Krista Mendelsohn, 1771 Alcatraz Ave., Berkeley, CA 94703

“Watershed Action Program: Safe Bay Food Consumption Project”
Concern for the decline of the ecology of the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas-the San Francisco Bay Estuary-and its threat to human health from toxic pollution drive the Kids for the Bay teaching program for health awareness and educator skills. Fish and shellfish from the Bay are contaminated with toxics, including pesticides above thresholds. Studies indicate a significant percentage of Bay anglers know nothing about a health advisory. Children particularly are at risk for developmental abnormalities and cancer. Kids for the Bay partners with low-income urban schools demographically representing the at-risk fishing population. An estimated 1,000 students and teachers participate, including six 4th-grade classes, from schools within five miles of the Bay. Students learn about toxics, watersheds, food chains, and associated risks to human health and transfer that knowledge to the community through demonstrations to their schools and families, and to local fishing people. Teachers trained in hands-on environmental activities for the classroom and in the field, including cleanup activities, learn alongside their pupils and have the opportunity to earn university credit. This program empowers students as the messengers of toxics reduction for their communities, with the advantages of cultural and first-spoken language fluency and Kids-for-the-Bay science literacy.

Earth Island Institute's Kids for the Bay Web site Exiting EPA (disclaimer)

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Friends of the Children's Museum at La Habra - $20,000

Kimberly Powell Albarian, 301 S. Euclid St., La Habra, CA 90631

“Clubhouse H²O”
With limited regional water resources, two thirds of California's population, and a drought-prone climate, Southern California stands to benefit from The Children's Museum at La Habra's plan to make awareness of water conservation a way of life for 25,000 K-3 students and 833 teachers. A permanent interactive exhibit featuring a downscaled Clubhouse H²O, with kitchen, bathroom, garden, and replica of the municipal water system, will be incorporated into the existing mountain watershed display. Reflecting accepted childhood developmental theory, as well as the museum's ethos, the design of the new exhibit will encourage age appropriate sensory/motor encounter. Envisioned as a destination point for school field trips, the Clubhouse H²O project will educate broadly to the community, as the museum receives 95,000 visitors each year. The museum partners with 20 school districts significantly represented by minorities, where half the children are impoverished and one third learn English as a second language. Teachers in the program will receive professional training in how to integrate new ways of teaching science into the daily curriculum. The completed project will feature bilingual standards-based science instruction. Increased benefit to the community will be achieved, particularly for low-income households, when conservation savvy consumers reduce the burden of their water costs.

Children's Museum at La Habra's Clubhouse H²O Web site Exiting EPA (disclaimer)

Placer Nature Center - $6,937

Linda Anne Desai, 3700 Christian Valley Rd., Auburn, CA 95602

“Stewardship in the Schoolyard”
You need look no further than your own backyard to learn about ecosystems and the interrelationship of all things. That is the first lesson which 4th and 5th graders attending Placer County public schools will learn through the Science and Stewardship in the Schoolyard program. The spirit of the field trip resides in the hands-on exploratory nature of this learning opportunity, in which students are outfitted with such scientific tools as microscopes by The Placer Nature Center. Students will examine both living and nonliving aspects of the environment, in pursuit of knowledge about such processes as photosynthesis and decomposition. They will be introduced to larger environmental concepts, such as watersheds, and observe animal life within the context of habitat. Applying science concepts, the students will take an active role in restoration and stewardship of the schoolyard ecosystem, evaluating the daily results of their actions. Teachers will have the opportunity to gain expertise and will have access to naturalists and volunteer docents. The immediate goal is to bring more science into the curriculum and improve assessment scores, as surveys reveal that science is being taught minimally or not at all. Initially piloting nine classroom groups, this program will eventually serve 575 students and their teachers from eighteen classrooms. The journey to the schoolyard culminates in stewardship service, which might be planting trees or native grasses or otherwise enhancing wildlife habitat.

Sierra Nevada Journeys - $9,850

Jonathan Mueller, 1901 Silverada Blvd., Ste. 10, Reno, NV 89502

“Journeys Outdoor Schools”
Forty-five percent of Nevada 4th graders tested below proficiency in science in 2005. Increasingly disconnected from opportunities to study science and out of touch with the natural world, students in Western Nevada might be at risk of less than healthy development. Sierra Nevada Journeys responds to this concern by offering school outreach and extra-school programs to foster a community of youth who are leaders, scientists, and stewards of the natural world. To meet the need of students to engage with their local ecosystems and natural communities, Journeys Outdoor School will conduct a four-day residential education program at Grizzly Creek Ranch, on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This nature's cure involves extensive experiential learning, appealing to multiple intelligences, including daylong hikes, wildlife counts, and astronomy sessions. Lessons in natural resource conservation will include water use and its impacts. Service projects will teach forest management techniques-key to stewardship of the drought prone slopes of the eastern Sierra Nevada-with the ranch's herd of goats as ambassadors of fuel suppression. The program will serve 420 Washoe County and Carson City students, generally in grades 5-7, and 21 teachers. According to one university study, likely outcomes will be students who are enthusiastic self-motivated learners, maturation in interpersonal and conflict resolution skills, and increased science scores.

Sierra Nevada Journeys' Journeys Outdoor Schools Web site Exiting EPA (disclaimer)

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