People protect what they know and love. Even kids. CWC helps to cultivate this love for the San Lorenzo River for youth in grades K-8 through experiences, through knowledge, through little moments that make you wonder about how the river interacts with you and with our environment. When we understand more about something, we tend to care more and tend to have a deeper connection with it. That is why the Coastal Watershed Council’s Watershed Rangers education program is focused on building students’ environmental literacy. We are environmentally literate when we have an understanding of the environment and how circumstances and conditions affect its health.
And CWC is not alone. This past fall, former Governor Jerry Brown signed into law new legislation (Senate Bill 720) that would continue to build upon California’s commitment that all public students have the opportunity to develop their environmental literacy. This legislation supports CWC, other environmental education providers and local public schools in incorporating environmental literacy into school-based learning with a few key provisions. The legislation approved California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&Cs) which are embedded into the curriculum framework that was approved by the State Board of Education. It promotes equity in ensuring that environmental literacy curriculum reflects the diversity of California and learning experiences are available to all students. Furthermore, the legislation encourages governing boards of school districts to build partnerships with local organizations that offer programs in support of environmental literacy. We extend our gratitude to former Governor Brown as well as local representatives Assemblymember Mark Stone and Senator Bill Monning for voting to approve this bill.
While not explicitly stated, CWC has always taught with principles outlined in the EP&Cs. While the EP&Cs focus statewide, the Watershed Rangers program builds conceptual storylines around some of the principles and concepts that have a direct cause and effect on our community and the San Lorenzo River. For example, in Principle 2: People Influence Natural Systems, CWC’s Kindergarten lesson focuses on how withdrawal of water from the San Lorenzo River not only reduces the amount of water available to humans but also to salmonids and supports youth in identifying ways they can help conserve water for the well-being of the salmonids. And relating to Principle 4: there are no permanent or impermeable boundaries that prevent matter from flowing between systems, CWC’s sixth grade lesson engages students in an exploration of how human-caused sources of fecal bacteria (not pick-up pet waste or leaky sewer lines) can be transported through soil, rocks, etc by stormwater runoff into the San Lorenzo River affecting both our drinking water and habitat for local wildlife.