“I am a Watershed Ranger and 4th-grader at Bay View Elementary School. I’d like your permission to post my flyer up in your store. The flyer shares how you can help to protect steelhead trout habitat.”

If you have visited a business in downtown Santa Cruz recently, you may have seen posters encouraging you to protect the San Lorenzo River. These posters were created and hung by 4th and 5th grade students from Bay View Elementary School. After participating in a four-month after-school Watershed Rangers service-learning program, these students brainstormed how they could share what they learned with others. They came up with the idea to engage downtown businesses in sharing messages of river protection with the community by creating flyers and having local businesses post the flyers in their store.

During the after-school program, students took frequent trips to the San Lorenzo River and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to learn about the steelhead trout, an important anadromous fish species to our river and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Students examined benthic macroinvertebrates, flow dynamics of the river, investigated how pollutants impact steelhead trout and learned how fly fishermen and commercial ocean fishermen fish for the trout. 

Students then discussed all the factors they learned that could impact the steelhead trout habitat, identified certain factors they’d like to address, and developed a plan to share their knowledge with the community. As their culminating action project, youth decided they wanted to share actions we can all do to protect steelhead habitat. The newly sworn-in Watershed Rangers ask you to pet up after your pet’s waste, save water for fish, throw away your cigarette butts so they don’t enter the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and plant native trees and shrubs to increase habitat along the San Lorenzo River.

In February 2019, their hard work was celebrated as they passed out flyers to local businesses, many of whom immediately posted the Watershed Ranger flyers in their window sill or in prominent locations for customers or staff to view. We congratulate the Watershed Rangers for their commitment to learn more about the San Lorenzo River and steelhead trout and for their desire to pass along their knowledge to others. This program was made possible in partnership with Santa Cruz Fly Fishermen and with the generous funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Bay Watershed Education and Training program.

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