Empowering the next generation of watershed stewards.
Students of all ages and backgrounds deserve to have opportunities to meaningfully engage with their local watershed. We seek to:
1) facilitate joyful experiences for students to connect with nature,
2) address systemic problems that inhibit students from connecting with their local community and natural environment, partly by prioritizing students in economically depressed and underrepresented neighborhoods, and
3) facilitate stronger relationships between schools and their surrounding communities.
The Watershed Project supports teachers and students in rebuilding these relationships through opportunities to learn outdoors in an experiential and academic program, aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards. In all of our coursework, we incorporate best practices in environmental science education, equity and inclusion, and social-emotional learning, with the goal of developing more resilient individuals, communities, and watersheds.
Our community-based restoration sites provide the chance for students to roll up their sleeves and experience local watershed restoration firsthand. Through hands-on, place-based stewardship education both in the classroom and outdoors, students gain the knowledge, tools, and local connections they need to advocate for equitable access to the benefits of a healthy environment.
The Watershed Project Education team offers in-school programming with direct services for K-8 students and a teacher-led high school program which all include field trips to local parks or our restoration sites. Our staff is prepared to follow COVID-19 safety protocols following school district guidelines.
Each of our programs contains 4-8 lessons, which are approximately 60 – 90 minutes long, depending on the age group. All lessons can take place at school with a field trip to a park or restoration site. Teachers may opt out of the field trip and replace it with an additional classroom lesson. When at all possible, we would also like to utilize schoolyards for activities and entire lessons during our programming to get students outside the classroom and engaging with nearby nature.
Our Theory of Change
In our The Water Around Us program, elementary students (grades K-2) will investigate the guiding question, “Why is water important for life on earth?” from a variety of perspectives. The lessons in this program provide students the opportunity to explore the wonders of the watery world that surrounds them through dance, games, stories and more!
In our Me & My Watershed: Creekside program, 3rd-5th grade students will investigate the guiding question, “How am I a part of my watershed?” The lessons in this program will provide students with a foundational understanding of what a watershed is, and how they are connected to their local watershed. Through nature journaling, students will have the chance to explore, observe, and personally reflect on these connections. Students will investigate, monitor, and advocate for the health of local creek ecosystems within our watershed.
In our Me and My Watershed: Tap the Sky program, 3-5th grade students investigate the guiding question, “How does capturing rainwater benefit me and my watershed?” Through exploring watershed models, hands-on activities like watershed mapping, seasonal rainfall graphing and student designed rainwater catchment modeling, students will understand their connection to the Bay, see how water is a precious resource and learn ways to be resourceful with water.
“We spend so much effort and money on standardized tests, when there are real problems in the world that The Watershed Project brings to light for our students. The information my students are learning with this project is what really should be mandatory in schools.” – 3rd grade teacher, San Pablo
“This is such a great program…[my students] have a much better understanding of [creek] ecosystems thanks to this program. The staff was prepared, informative, fun, and caring!” – 4th/5th grade teacher, Oakland
In Our Ecosystem, Our Community: Greening Urban Watersheds, middle school students (grades 6-8) will investigate the guiding question, “How am I part of my local ecosystem?” The lessons in this program will provide students with a foundational understanding of biodiversity and interdependence in ecosystems, and opportunities to explore their local ecosystem through nature journaling, guided walks and more. Students will build and test models to learn how restoring urban ecosystems benefits communities and wildlife and manages stormwater. At the conclusion of the program, students will transform their knowledge into meaningful action to understand and protect their local ecosystem.
“The educators made this a very strong program. They understood the need to balance the science with the students’ ages and ability to focus. I was very impressed by their ability to keep the kids focused and interested.” – 6th grade teacher, Pinole
“The Watershed Project is bringing timely, important information to students in an engaging way.” – 6th grade teacher, Richmond
The Watershed Project is seeking high school teacher partners for our teacher-led Ocean Acidification and Resilience program for the 2022-2023 school year!
The *free* program includes a field trip to Point Reyes National Seashore led by The Watershed Project (TWP) staff and naturalists from the Point Reyes National Seashore Association. The Watershed Project is seeking teacher partners and students from a 50% or more low income/disadvantaged community in Richmond, San Pablo, Oakland and San Francisco.
In Ocean Acidification and Resilience, students investigate the guiding question, “How can we improve the resilience of the San Francisco Bay in the face of climate change impacts?” Through hands-on labs and experiments, data interpretation and analysis, and reflective outdoor journaling, students will understand their connection to the Bay, learn about the local impacts of ocean and coastal acidification, and become part of the solution in addressing climate change impacts on ocean life and communities in the Bay Area. At the conclusion of the program, students transform their knowledge into meaningful action to help mitigate climate change impacts.
Click here for more details and how to apply!
“I’d put in a good word for the way the activities are structured. I like that the students get to relate variables, see connections and patterns for the ecology and chemistry associated with climate change…As a veteran marine science teacher, I do not regret getting involved with the program and look forward to being part of it in the future. It’s really well organized and well worth any science teacher’s time.” – High school marine biology teacher, San Francisco
College and Beyond
We seek to encourage the next generation to discover their passion for environmental work.
Green Collar Corps is a job training program for youth from Contra Costa County. It focuses on leadership and job skills training, as well as specific instruction in conservation and restoration work.
Our interns contribute directly to meaningful and exciting projects, learn new skills, and gain valuable experience, all while working for vital environmental change.
Please visit our Green Careers page for more information about our current offerings.
It is only with the help of teachers that we can aspire to developing environmental stewards. We partner with teachers to implement our programs and we offer professional learning opportunities on how to teach about watersheds and engage students in hands-on science. We have a long history of high quality curriculum offerings and continue to develop and revise curriculum on a variety of environmental topics.
In recent years, we have offered professional learning in partnership with Community Resources for Science, Outside the Box 925, and BE3 (Berkeley Educators for Equity and Excellence). Please contact us if you are interested in partnering with us for an educator training.
Check out the recording and resources from our “Watershed Education in our Urban Ecosystem” training in partnership with Community Resources for Science, offered in May 2021.
“The training was fun, collaborative and interesting.” – 6th grade science teacher, Oakland
“[The training] was very clear – the way everything was rolled out was really elegantly done.” – High school marine biology teacher, San Francisco
Resources for Educators
We are pleased to offer curriculum for some of our programs at no cost to teachers! Use the links below to submit a request to access the lessons and supplemental materials. Please keep in mind that these programs may currently be written for virtual learning, but can be easily adapted for in person education.
Our Ecosystem, Our Community: Greening Urban Watersheds Curriculum (6-8th grade)
Ocean Acidification and Resilience Curriculum (9-12th grade)
The following lessons provide opportunities for investigating and learning about local watersheds. Visit our YouTube channel for additional activities and resources!
What is a watershed? – Diagram
Watershed in Your Hand – Classroom Activity
Mapping Your Watershed – Classroom Activity
Urban Creek Observations – Classroom and Creek Activity
We are excited to announce our participation in Green Schoolyards America’s 2018 Living Schoolyard Activity Guide. You can find our contribution, Observing a Creek, on page 161. It is for ages 8-18 and is designed as an easy creek observation activity for schools with creeks on or near their school campus.
Looking for a fun activity to do outside with your family? Explore the activities we’ve put together below!
Beach Counting Activity – Family Version
Creek Exploration – Family Version
Creek Boat Race – Family Version
Exploring Runoff – Family Version
Marsh in a Pan – Family Version
Riparian Bird Beaks – Family Version
Plant Scavenger Hunt – Family Version
Watershed in Your Hand – Family Version
If you’re interested in exploring your watershed or new parts of the Bay Area, check out some of the parks and locations we recommended through our Summer Photo Contest from August 2017!
Visit our YouTube channel for additional at-home activities and resources!
Teachers and Schools
We invite San Francisco Bay Area schools, especially in West Contra Costa County, to apply for our watershed education programs. We offer in-person direct service programs in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and online and teacher-led programs in all other counties. Title 1 schools, schools with 50% or more students eligible for free and reduced priced meals, and schools participating in select grant-funded programs are eligible for our programs at no cost. We offer sliding scale fee-for-service programs to other schools starting at $125.
Please fill out the interest form below to find out more, and allow for 1-2 weeks for a response from one of our Education Team staff. Please note that filling out this form does not guarantee you a program. Based on our availability and funding, we will let you know whether we are able to accommodate your request.
For all other education inquires, please contact: email@example.com