Empowering the next generation of watershed stewards.
Students of all ages and backgrounds deserve to have opportunities to meaningfully engage with their local watershed. By strengthening school-community partnerships, we seek to address systemic problems that inhibit students from connecting with their local community and natural environment.
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 is following our school district partners’ guidelines for re-opening, and we are excited to go back to offering in-school programming again, including optional field trips to local parks or our restoration sites. Although this is our momentum for the moment, we are aware and are prepared to offer flexible programming options to our school and teacher partners, should it be the case that we go back to hybrid or virtual learning due to COVID-19.
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, or one of the lessons can be swapped out for an optional field trip to a regional park or to one of our local restoration sites. 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.
“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 and community science data collection. 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.
“During the shelter in place all of us have been feeling the stress induced by the loss of our routine, the threat of COVID-19, and uncertainty about the future. Participating in [Our Ecosystem, Our Community] gave my students and I a chance to take a step back and connect with the natural world around us through the lessons, activities, and meetings we had. These moments have been full of peace and connection, and have been a positive force in our school experience and our lives during the pandemic.” – Middle school science teacher, San Mateo
“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
In Climate Change & Community Resilience: Resilient Infrastructure, high school students (grades 9-12) will investigate the guiding question, “How can I help develop community resilience in the face of climate change?” The lessons in this program will provide scaffolding for students to engage in conversations and activities about climate change, the local impacts of climate change, and how developing community resilience will help reduce these impacts through labs, case studies and reflective journaling. Students will engage with green infrastructure professionals and visit restoration sites to learn about local green infrastructure impacts and urban ecosystem benefits. Students will gain practical tools for assessing personal and community needs through collective mapping exercises that weave in discussions about green space and gentrification.
“Climate Change and Community Resilience was a unique course that offered students a wide variety of activities requiring many different skills. The organization of the course is brilliant. After students connect with nature on a very personal level, they move on to understand the impacts of climate change on all living things on the planet, then explore what resilience looks like for themselves, the community and ecosystems, and finally they complete an action project reminding students to ‘Be the Change.’” – High school supervising teacher, Richmond
“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.
The following lessons provide opportunities for investigating and learning about local watersheds. Visit our YouTube channel for additional activities and resources!
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!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org