When opening one of the Coastal Watershed Council’s (CWC) grade-specific science journals, you’ll see captioned photos describing a Watershed Ranger as someone who studies, protects, and teaches people about nature. 

If you live in Santa Cruz County it’s likely that you’ve met a Watershed Ranger, even if you didn’t know it at the time. They are likely a bit shorter than you are and may still be working on their handwriting skills, but these elementary school students are a wealth of knowledge, excitement and creativity when it comes to protecting our San Lorenzo River Watershed. CWC’s Watershed Rangers program is officially back on campus and leading field studies along the San Lorenzo River!  

We can all use a breath of fresh air during our day and a chance to step away from the desk, so after making the huge leap from classroom-based activities to a completely virtual curriculum last year, CWC’s Education team of Mollie Behn and Sam Adelson have focused curriculum this year on outdoor education on campus. Why not socially distance, embrace our incredible weather and bring students outside the classroom to investigate watershed science phenomena on their school groundsEach lesson series concludes with the creation of action projects intended to empower students, create a more watershed-friendly campus and increase environmental literacy within the student body.

Black and white photo of a Watershed Ranger journal with a picture of erosion.

Watershed Rangers journals have been a huge success with teachers and students this year!

In addition to leading on-campus lessons and offering activities for teachers to facilitate with their classes, CWC has also recently launched two Watershed Rangers programs through After School Academy (ASA) at Gault and Bay View Elementary Schools! Over the course of twelve weeks, students explore watershed concepts and protection through on-campus activities and field trips to the San Lorenzo River to study different aspects of the watershed and its health.

Young kid in blue jacket looks down at the grass and a clipboard as they draw what they observe around them.

ASA students using art to document plant diversity on campus

In fact, if you find yourself along the Santa Cruz Riverwalk adjacent to Mimi De Marta Dog Park, take a closer look at the riverbank. All the yellow flags you see are California fuchsia freshly planted October 5th-6th, 2021 by the ASA Watershed Rangers to promote increased plant and habitat diversity along the San Lorenzo.

We are so grateful to the community of teachers who sign up for our Watershed Rangers programming year after year and are thrilled to welcome teachers new to Watershed Rangers who reach out with excitement to sign up for our programs. It is an honor to celebrate our amazing San Lorenzo River and the diversity and strength of our community with such incredible teachers and inspiring youth throughout Santa Cruz County.

Lastly, this work would not be possible without generous funding and support from our partners National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, City of Santa Cruz, County of Santa Cruz, Central Coast Wilds and the Monterey Peninsula Foundation. Thank you for your continued dedication to environmental education and strong, healthy communities.



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