This summer CWC is proud to be running summer youth programs with the Downtown Santa Cruz Boys and Girls Club, Nueva Vista Community Resources, and Santa Cruz City Schools once again! These programs are focused on nature connection, scientific monitoring, teambuilding and environmental stewardship along the banks of the lower San Lorenzo River. 

Stewardship in action! After filling this bucket during our walk to the river, students celebrated a cleaner San Lorenzo by kicking their shoes off and getting sandy in the estuary. 

The most accommodating field study location along the lower section of the San Lorenzo River is the Trestle Bridge estuary beach next to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where our river flows out into the Monterey Bay. However, to support the needs of our community partners it became apparent that we would be hosting two different groups of students on the same day and at the same time. This was going to be tricky, but luckily there’s plenty of San Lorenzo River to share!

Thumbs up to great weather and lots of life to be found at the San Lorenzo River Estuary! 

With years of outdoor education experience, CWC River Ecologist Kaiya Giuliano-Monroy graciously stepped away from her work focused on CWC’s Habitat Enhancement Site to take the lead on supporting Santa Cruz City Schools (SCCS) summer outings. With big groups of around 30 students, Kaiya and adult chaperones supervised students from numerous elementary school campuses as they mixed and mingled together and with the San Lorenzo River via dip nets, binoculars and art projects. Near the end of their time exploring the estuary, Kaiya guided her students to an adjacent space on the estuary beach for a surprise. 

Kaiya’s SCCS students were excited to see another group of students just like them doing the exact same thing, and after only a few seconds, students in each group started to recognize each other. Lo and behold, they were Nueva Vista’s Summer Fun students on an outing led by CWC’s Sam Adelson! Why not offer the opportunity to mingle?  

Success in building new relationships at the San Lorenzo River… And building sand castles! 

Over an entire school year, kids in the same classroom, grade or campus can become great friends, spending hours together five days a week – Until summer tears them apart! Along the San Lorenzo River, students ran to greet each other with huge smiles and sand covered high fives; it was a clear reminder that CWC’s reach in our young community is vast. For most of these students this was not their first time to the San Lorenzo River. Many of the summer students have been in Watershed Rangers programs before and can already tell you about the San Lorenzo River and how to protect it.  

One of many critters that provide the base of our estuary’s food web, an isopod! These little critters are related to the common rollie-pollie. 

It’s so inspiring to watch kids teach each other how to use transparency tubes to measure water clarity and where to find water beetles, or offer each other pointers when drawing wildlife. After a day like that, I can imagine students coming home to excitedly share “I went on a field trip today!”, “I caught bugs and watched birds!”, “I got to make a nature mural in the sand!”, or “I saw my best friend at the San Lorenzo River!” and to know that the Coastal Watershed Council and our partners make this happen every summer is absolutely worth celebrating and sharing! 

This work is made possible because of generous funding and support from Save the Redwoods League and Adams Legacy Foundation. Thank you for your continued dedication to environmental education and strong, healthy communities. 

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