Malika is in the third grade. She is a member of her school’s Green Team, and she takes her job seriously. Along with a few other student leaders, Malika helped her peers sort through their lunchtime waste. Trays soiled by food go into the compost bin. Clean trays get recycled. Milk cartons can be composted. Plastic wrappers? Straight into the trash. For many kids, this process is not easy, but Malika is there every day making sure it is done right. She shared with us that she wants her mom to start composting too, and that she has been sharing with her family the benefits of composting to our planet. Although the Green Team is generally made up of third and sixth graders, Malika asks us, “Can I keep my job in the fourth grade?”
Malika is just one of the 1,380 students that The Watershed Project taught this past school year. These students participated in hands-on science lessons in the classroom, action projects such as lunchtime composting and schoolyard clean-ups, and field trips to local parks and shorelines.
For many of our students, field trips are a rare occurrence. However, we see again and again that an experiential learning opportunity is memorable and sticks with them for a long time. One second grader wrote “thank you for letting us go on the field trip. It was the best field trip ever that I had. I had fun looking at the fish and looking at the crabs.” Even our 18-year-old high school students are amazed when they turn over a rock to see small shore crabs scampering away.
This year, our elementary school students learned about marine debris through programs like Waste Matters and Bye Bye Basura while our older students participated in service learning through Rains to Roots and Wild Oysters. All of our students explored their role in their local watershed, and helped restore it in some way, whether it was cleaning up litter, planting rain gardens, or collecting data on our oyster reef.
So what did our year look like by the numbers? We broke down our education programs for the past school year. Take a look at our environmental education report to learn more about these accomplishments.
- We taught 1,380 students (991 in elementary school, 146 in middle school, and 243 in high school)
- Our programs reached 17 schools across the Bay Area
- We worked with 57 different classes and 51 teachers
- 35 classes went on field trips to 8 different local parks and shorelines
This has been a truly rewarding year. During our field trips, we see our students fall in love with their local watersheds and become empowered as they act on their new knowledge. After picking up nearly 200 pounds of trash during a beach clean-up as part of Bye Bye Basura, one student exclaimed, “I finally understand what my teacher has been talking about all year! This is why she says we should not litter. I never understood what she meant until now.”
We are thrilled to continue and grow our education offerings next year, supported by a first-time grant from the Youth Access to Nature Fund at The San Francisco Foundation (TSFF). We are grateful for this partnership and investment by TSFF, with its impressive history of leveraging resources, expertise, and relationships to expand opportunity and achieve equity in the Bay Area. For 66 years, thanks to the generosity and vision of individual and institutional donor partners, TSFF has grown its endowment and overall assets to $1.3 billion and grants $86 million each year. TSFF serves the San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Mateo Counties.
Thank you to The San Francisco Foundation, all of our partner teachers, principals, parent chaperones, and of course, students, and see you in the fall!