2017, Sacramento, CA

Composting Mustard Seed School

Composting Mustard Seed School

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. Nutrien project funds helped Clarissa purchase the bin and provide supporting materials for the lesson.


2017, Sacramento, CA

Aquaponics Carver High School

Aquaponics Carver High School

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 hosts water science education

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 Nutrien 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, California, USA

MET Sac High School Noah Crockett helps save the bees

Mason Bee House

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  installs water bottle filling station at MET Sacramento High School

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

Salma Rosas helps birds in California

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

Reducing Water Use with Faucet Aerators

2016, Sacramento, California, USA

Faucet Aerators student implementation project California winner photoBrian Shan was proud to place first in the 2015 Caring for our Watersheds contest for his proposal to install aerators on faucets in his school. Faucet aerators deliver a mixture of water and air, limiting how much water is released while maintaining pressure and reducing splashing. The aerators, relatively inexpensive and easy to install, help conserve water and reduce energy use and costs.

Brian met with his school principal and facilities director to obtain permission to make this easy upgrade that would have the potential to reduce water use from hand washing by 40%. After obtaining approval he purchased aerators and installed them in 18 sinks located in bathrooms on his school’s campus.  Knowing that this relatively simple project can save a lot of water, Brian plans on extending his project to other schools in his district.

Water Conservation….easy as 1, 2, 3 (or at least installing the aerators!)

Invasive Plant Removal at Mathis Pond

2016 Grass Valley, California, USANåah Lifland Invasive removal

When Nåah Lifland, of Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning, was asked how he could improve his watershed, he immediately thought of Mathis Pond Preserve, an area that students from his school visit to get field experience with water quality sampling.

Nåah proposed to expand stewardship activities at the pond by organizing invasive plant removal efforts. These efforts would allow the native plants to flourish and provide more suitable wildlife habitat in the area. With funding from Nutrien, Nåah was able to purchase tools for the task of removing the invasive species, particularly Himalayan blackberries.

During the 2016/17 school year, 65 students visited the site four times and removed blackberries for four hours on each visit, totaling 1,040 hours of service improving the habitat at Mathis Pond. Future students will also use the tools to continue stewardship of the Preserve.

Cleaning Garcia Bend

2016 Sacramento, California, USA
Alexa with trash bag
Garcia Bend Park is a neighborhood park on the banks of the Sacramento River.  Trash and debris left here by visitors or illegally dumped here continues to be an ongoing issue. Unfortunately, most of that trash ends up directly entering the adjacent waters, and directly or indirectly harming aquatic wildlife.  Alexa Smith and Priscilla Dawson wanted to practice good stewardship of their watershed and encourage others to do the same.  Alexa, who has been involved in clean-ups before, understood how eye-opening clean-ups can be; seeing all the accumulated debris directly can make students think twice before littering themselves and inspire them to take action.  Priscilla and Alexa organized a group from The MET Sacramento to return to this area. In one morning, they collected 11 bags of trash from the park!  Students enjoyed being outdoors while doing something good for their community and the watershed.

Southside Park Clean Up

2016 Sacramento, California, USA
Boys picking up garbage
For this year’s Caring for Our Watershed project, Molly Crofoot and Miana Muscat of The MET Sacramento focused on a park/pond area adjacent to their school. Their goal was to build on the success of past clean-up efforts, and organize more volunteers to thoroughly cover a greater area than previous efforts. The duo also expressed the possibility of building an annual, if not bi-annual tradition of involving their classmates as stewards of this park, as it is so close to their campus. To that end, Molly and Miana recruited approximately 30 volunteers to help with their clean-up event at Southside Park. Because they had so many volunteers, they split into groups for litter pick-up as well as invasive species removal. Molly and her classmates reported having a fun day in the field, and getting a lot accomplished. This clean-up was completed with perfect timing, as it was just before the Earth Day celebration was to be held at the park.