The arts are a powerful tool that youth (and adults) can use to express themselves and process their emotions. They also offer an opportunity to connect young people with nature. Jessica Carmen, one half of CWC’s Artists in Residence The Jams, is also a passionate arts educator. Drawing on this aspect of her background, Jessica has created an art kit for students to explore the San Lorenzo River as part of her artist residency funded by the Central Coast Creative Corps. 

The Jams (Augie WK and Jessica Carmen) prep art kits at the CWC office

The art kit consists of a variety of activities that cater to different learning styles to help kids connect to the San Lorenzo River, while drawing on CWC’s habitat restoration and environmental education work. A word search introduces the topic of flooding, which is the central theme of CWC’s Creative Corps grant. Other elements include coloring sheets, a trout grid drawing puzzle, a monarch butterfly maze, a “Be like the River” mindfulness activity, a “How to Draw a Trout” tutorial, some river-themed secret messages to decode, a native plant scavenger hunt, and an activity that explores plant and animal water needs. There is also a page for youth to write a thank-you letter to the San Lorenzo River that features Chalchiuhtlicue, the Aztec goddess of flowing waters who also appears in a new mural The Jams are painting with community members at the Nueva Vista Community Resources Center.  

We packaged these activity worksheets with crayons, colored pencils, and a pencil sharpener to create a ready-to-use art kit. CWC had an opportunity to distribute several of these incredible kits through the Fiesta de Las Artes event on March 23, 2024, at Bay View Elementary School. CWC Communications Manager Erin Loury met several students at the event who were already familiar with the San Lorenzo River and its wildlife thanks to the Watershed Rangers program that CWC education staff run at the school. Some students shared that they had just learned from Education Coordinator Sam Adelson about the importance of conserving water for steelhead trout, and had received their Watershed Ranger badges! 

In addition to handing out close to 40 art kits at the Bay View event, CWC staff are also integrating the worksheets into their education programs. Environmental Educator Maria Rocha reported that her third-grade students have been big fans of the “How to Draw a Trout” activity, which fits right into CWC’s third-grade steelhead trout lessons. We’re very thankful to The Jams for creating this amazing arts resource for kids, and can’t wait to distribute more throughout the year! 

The Jamsartist residency is supported by a grant from the Central Coast Creative Corps, a project of the Arts Councils of Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, Ventura and San Benito Counties, as well as the Santa Barbara Office of Arts and Culture, which is funded by the California Arts Council. 

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