2017, Sacramento, CA
For her Caring for Our Watersheds project, Clarissa Huerta, of the MET Sacramento High School, wanted to work with students from the Mustard Seed School, a private school established to help meet the needs of homeless children. When Clarissa visited, she noticed they had a garden area, but did not yet have a compost system. Clarissa’s proposal included the addition of a compost bin to the facility, but also a lesson for the students to teach them the environmental benefits of composting and how to use the bin. Clarissa met with different age groups to share about composting, give students practice using and maintaining the bin, and to meet the wiggly worm friends inside that will help decompose the food scraps and provide free, nutrient rich soil to the school’s and shelter’s garden. Clarissa pointed out, that even at a homeless shelter, there is still substantial food waste. The compost bin would also help decrease the amount of food waste sent to the local landfill. Agrium project funds helped Clarissa purchase the bin and provide supporting materials for the lesson.
2017, Sacramento, CA
Henry McKay, a student at the G.W. Carver School of Arts and Sciences built and installed a small Aquaponics system on his school’s campus to demonstrate a sustainable, water-wise system to produce food. Aquaponics, which combines the raising of fish with the growing of plants in water, uses substantially less water than traditional growing, as water and nutrients are recycled. There is already a robust garden/ farm at Carver School of Arts and Sciences in which students plant, maintain, harvest, and learn about food system production and processes. The Aquaponics system, which was designed to run off of solar power, is a great addition to the campus and garden, demonstrating an additional technique, and expanding and extending this learning to future cohorts of students at the school. Caring for Our Watersheds project funds helped Henry purchase the materials he needed to build the system.
2017, Sacramento, CA
Mianna Muscat, of the MET Sacramento, has been involved in several previous Caring for Our Watersheds projects, including tree plantings and park clean-ups. This year, her focus was on expanding watershed education for her classmates. She wanted to find a way to engage students outside the classroom, educate them on the processes that provide water for the state, and connect them with nature. Mianna proposed a trip to the Headwaters Science Institute, during which students learn about the snowpack driven water cycle, how albedo affects rates of snowmelt, and methods scientists use to track the snowpack which makes up much of California’s water. Mianna’s proposal and implementation funds from Agrium helped all 30 students in class to attend the trip and get this hands-on field experience in the area of Water Science and Management
2017, Sacramento, CA
MET Sacramento High School student Noah Crockett has a passion for entomology and a specific interest in pollinators. Over the past years, he has been interning at the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology and has learned a great deal about the threats to pollinators. Crockett’s project this year focused on providing nest sites for two specific native pollinators, the Mason Bee and Leafcutter Bee (family: Megachilidae). While these bees do not produce honey they are still beneficial for gardens; they are amongst the most productive pollinators and are able to access much smaller flowers than honeybees and bumblebees. Crockett built a dozen bee boxes and distributed them to property owners along the American River. He included instructions on how and where to hang the boxes, as well as seeds for spring flowers to provide additional nectar sources for the bees.
2016, Sacramento, CA
Justin Yu, of the MET Sacramento High School successfully worked with his school’s facilities maintenance staff to install a water filtration system on campus. This project was a follow-up to his previous project, in which he provided reusable water bottles to his classmates and delivered a presentation on the negative effects single-use plastic bottles have on the environment, and the benefits of reusable bottles. While many of the students used the bottles, some would still bring plastic bottles claiming they did it not for convenience, but for water quality issues. Providing the water filtration system would provide clean, filtered water to students, and encourage reusable bottle use—a win- win for their health, thirst, and the environment. According to the counter on the unit, within a month of installation, they had already saved 1400 water bottles!
2015, Sacramento, CA
When Salma Rosas, of the MET Sacramento High School, was asked how she could “improve her watershed”, she decided to focus on habitat for birds, specifically cavity nesting species such as bluebirds and swallows. Salma learned that in the urban environment of Sacramento, many old, dead trees that would have provided natural cavities for nests for these birds have been removed due to their hazardous and/ or unsightly nature. While this is often necessary for safety, it decreases available habitat. To increase suitable nest sites, Salma decided to build bird boxes and install them at school and at a neighborhood park. Caring for Our Watersheds project implementation funds help her buy wood and supplies to build these boxes
2017 Cinncinnati, Ohio, USA
Lexi Meckes is a nanny for three kids after school and is always having to switch out old batteries in game systems. Through this experience she became aware of how many batteries were being tossed out. She started becoming more concerned about the problem as she researched the chemicals inside every single battery and began thinking about the impact these batteries have on our environment. As a senior at Sycamore High School she has been involved in Environmental Club, AP Environmental class, and engineering. With her background knowledge and interest she became motivated to help solve this problem.
When Lexi was introduced to the Caring For Our Watersheds project she knew right away that she wanted to work on a project concerning batteries. She saw a big problem in her community and figured out a simple, direct way she could improve this issue. For her Caring For Our Watersheds project, Lexi put in place a battery-recycling program in all the schools within the Sycamore School District. These pails are located in the front offices of all schools and have begun overflowing with all the donations from community residents. She hopes recycling batteries becomes just as routine as recycling paper and plastic. With this permanent project Lexi hopes to educate her community on the simple actions they can take to make a big difference.
After the project got started, the company changed their prices and it became too expensive to mail the filled buckets, so Lexi set up a meeting with a local recycling company to discuss where she can send or take the batteries to locally for recycling. Although Lexi has experienced a few bumps along the way, her project has definite staying power because of the broad community support and participation.
She hopes this project will grow into a citywide program and prevent thousands of batteries from ending up in the landfill.
2017, Cinncinnati, Ohio, USA
Tori Lyon and Veronica France developed a project called Turning Trash into Treasure, focused on improving their watershed (the Mill Creek) by reducing the amount of plastic bags that end up as litter. The project consisted of two parts, phase one and phase two. They began their project by educating their school community through daily announcements informing classmates on the importance of keeping their local watershed clean and the detrimental effects of plastic bags on the environment. After kick-staring the education portion of their project, they started working on implementing phase one.
Phase one of the project consisted of collecting plastic bags from their school community and distributing reusable cloth bags to the students. Tori and Veronica set up a station in a busy hallway of the school where students could turn in their plastic bags. For every 25 plastic bags a student turned in, they received a custom made, reusable cloth bag. Inside each cloth bag was an informational flyer containing more facts about the Mill Creek watershed and the detrimental effects of plastic bags as litter. In order to keep track of how many bags were brought in, each student who donated plastic bags filled out a slip with their name, grade and number of bags brought in. This provided Tori and Veronica with an easy way to account for the bags donated. After they held a week-long bag collection event and distribution at school, they transitioned into phase two of the project in which they created sleeping mats out of the collected plastic bags.
Phase two started with a bag prepping party at which everyone folded, cut, and looped the plastic bags into balls of “yarn”. This ball of plastic yarn was then crocheted into sleeping mats that were donated to the homeless. They conducted significant amounts of research on how to properly crochet plastic sleeping mats, as well as the benefits of sleeping mats for those who are homeless. The mat weaving process was very time consuming and involved intricate work, so the students sought out the help of their school community for completing this part of our project.
They had an overwhelming response to their project! Tori and Veronica were hoping to collect about 2,000 plastic bags, but received over 17,000 plastic bags. Since this was such a great number of bags, they are planning on donating the extra bags to Matthew 25 Ministries where groups of volunteers work to complete similar projects. They will continue to make mats until the end of the year.
Their project reached a large scope, and they were able to help improve the condition of our watershed.
2017, Cinncinnati, Ohio, USA
When faced with the challenge to improve her local watershed, Annie Smith thought of her school drinking water fountains. Her school is very old and while it has been remodeled several times, it seems several of the drinking fountains never got updated. So she developed a project she called the “Hydration Station.” It all started when she saw the enormous amounts of plastic water bottles being thrown away at her school. Her idea was to start the process of installing automatic water bottle refill stations around the school in order to reduce the number of plastic water bottles that Oak Hills High School throws away every single day.
Annie worked with the Caring For Our Watersheds staff, her mentors, teachers and Winnsupply company in Fairfield to acquire two water fountains to be installed in the school. Maintenance staff installed the first fountain (pictured below) in one of the main hallways within the school in order to maximize the usage of the fountain. After less than a week of being installed, the water fountain had already saved 395 water bottles, a number that will hopefully continue growing. That’s right, almost 400 bottles in just one week.
Annie graduated just after the CFW finals, but in the future she hopes to revisit the school and see how many water bottles have been saved. She hopes to take this newly collected data and propose that all the water fountains at Oak Hills High School be replaced with new water bottle filling stations. If this is successful, she plans on reaching out to the superintendent and proposing that all old water fountains in the district be replaced with new water bottle filling stations. She also hopes to work with the Oak Hills “Spirit Shop”, or book store, to get reusable water bottles with the Oak Hills logo on them, to be purchased and used by students and staff at the water fountains. The janitors had some issues with the ‘old’ plumbing, but they were able to build a frame to mount the new filling station. Persistence pays off.
2017, Berthoud, Colorado, USA
Delaney and Emma identified a lack of interactive and educational games available to students online that teaches the current situation regarding bee populations in their watershed. To solve this problem, the students designed an online game that raises awareness and the positive steps that can be taken to help protect the honeybees in the area.
The main character in the game is Buzz the Bee. Buzz flies through several backgrounds and landscapes point out to game users the different positive and negative effects in the environment that can support or harm bees. The players then experience a series of educational questions that help them recognize the relationship of bees and human life. The answers to the questions are recorded and a final report is give at the end of the game. Players can then use this score to identify how they can better help the bees in the watershed. The game can be found at: http://whatsthebzzz.com/