Grant #258

Watershed Education Initiative (WEI) for the Urban Truckee River Corridor

Project Description:

Deliver high-quality, experiential watershed education programs based on water quality issues and invasive species along the urban Truckee River corridor to empower youth to take action for the protection and enhancement of the water quality of the Truckee River. To meet schools’ needs in case of closures, we have a distance learning program in place called Sierra Nevada Journeys Virtual Classrooms that will still significantly engage students, teachers and parents with watershed education.

During the past 12 years, Sierra Nevada Journeys’ (SNJ) Watershed Education Initiative (WEI) has impacted approximately 13,366 students and 625 educators. This has been made possible thanks to the

generous support of the Truckee River Fund. WEI educates students about the local watershed, including human impacts on the watershed, water quality, and watershed protection. While in-class and field-based lessons reach students and educators, WEI’s additional outreach components serve to engage families and community volunteers.

A study from The Nature Conservancy reveals that students who have had a personal experience in nature are:

  • Significantly more likely to express concern about water pollution, air pollution, climate change,

and the condition of the environment;

  • More than twice as likely to “strongly agree” that protecting the environment is “cool;”
  • More than twice as likely to consider themselves a “strong environmentalist;” and
  • Substantially more likely to express interest in studying the environment in college, working in a job related to nature, or joining an environmental club at their school.

Through WEI, SNJ provides local youth with opportunities to have an interactive experience outdoors, increasing their likelihood to cherish nature, engage with it and become stewards of their natural resources.

With this funding, SNJ will serve 750 students in 28 classrooms within 10 miles of the urban corridor of the Truckee River. Conducted over a four-week period, WEI includes two in-class lessons, one field-study experience, pre- and post-assessments, classroom extension lessons for teachers, and family and community engagement. Curriculum developed and delivered by SNJ’s team of credentialed teachers aligns to state and national standards and the North American Association for Environmental Education’s Guidelines for Excellence.

TMWA Benefit:

WEI is an education program that addresses water, water quality and watershed protection for K-8th grade students, directly aligning with grant priority VI: Stewardship and Environmental Awareness. Students gain first-hand experience determining water quality, explore human impacts on their water source, and obtain skills, knowledge and a field experience to connect them to their local river. The overall long-term program impacts include:

  • Students understand important science concepts related to the Truckee River watershed and can articulate how their actions affect the Truckee River watershed and local ecosystems.
  • Teachers use extension lessons and implement more hands-on exploration of the watershed. Parents and community members engage in watershed education directly through WEI volunteer.
  • Health of the Truckee River watershed and local ecosystems improves as students and their families adopt environmental stewardship practices that help reduce water pollution and human impacts.