Author Archives: Chloe Sprecker

Life on Land icon

Purple Martin Towers

2022, Herndon, Virginia, USA

We are the Herndon Elementary School Bee’s Green Team! In 2022 we won 1st place in the Chesapeake Bay Caring for Our watershed contest with our project, “Purple Martin Project” and we installed 2 purple martin towers on our school property with funding from this competition. Why? This bird species has been declining and plays a vital role in improving the biodiversity of ecosystems in our community and around the world.

Now, we are expanding our idea to help others build Purple Martin Towers in their communities in order to help the Purple Martins thrive there. As the international idea for the 2022-23 school year, Purple Martin towers will be installed in each CFW region internationally! We are excited to continue to work as a school, and throughout other schools along the Purple Martin’s migratory path, to manage and monitor the tower and species with a bird watching area.

Come back soon as we will be adding a brochure and video on how to set up a Purple Martin tower in spring 2023!

Legacy Story – Standing for Tomorrow

From student-action project to state legislation! Learn how Caring for Our Watersheds has left a lasting legacy for this group of students from Virginia.

Responsible Consumption icon

Reusable Containers

reusable containers implementation2019, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Ava and Allynah are students at École Leila North Community School in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They wanted to reduce the amount of disposable plastics ending up in our watershed, so they came up with a plan to distribute reusable sandwich containers to students at their school.

“Many people throw items away not thinking of the damage it can lead to. Because of that, there is more pollution and it is not only harming us, but animals as well. If you look around, you will always see garbage on the ground, no matter where you are.”

They did presentations to each class to educate their fellow students while handing out the containers. The school’s canteen partnered with the girls to help promote the use of their containers and to offer a discount on drinks if students brought their own bottles to fill.

Clean Water and Sanitation iconLife on Land icon

Rain Garden at School

2019, Sacramento, California, USAgarden

After learning about issues related to urban storm water runoff, Suad Abdan and Elizabeth Meads spent time researching ways to address this concern is their local watershed. They learned that a well-placed rain garden can serve to help “slow the flow” of runoff, to help water infiltrate into the soil and recharge groundwater, as well as provide habitat and food for insects and wildlife. They also liked the idea of creating something aesthetically pleasing that had so many environmental benefits.

Suad and Elizabeth spent time during the winter surveying their campus for an appropriate location for a rain garden. They chose a low spot where water seemed to drain to from the campus right before the water would flow onto the road and into the storm drain.

They chose a variety of plants that develop deep root systems, were able to tolerate seasonal inundation with water, but also survive dry periods. While their garden was relatively small, both girls learned a lot about the design and process of installing these rain gardens and how they can serve as tools to reduce storm water runoff.

rain garden

student action

Their demonstration project will be a learning tool for the garden class at George Washington Carver High School, who will monitor the garden to see how it is performing after the plants have established and grown over the next year. Caring for Our Watersheds funds help purchase plants and mulch for the garden.

Quality Education iconClean Water and Sanitation icon

Watershed-Themed Children’s Book

children's book student action photo2019, West Sacramento, California, USA

River City High School student Sonya Shifrin has a passion for the environment and the arts. For her Caring for Our Watersheds project, she chose to combine her artistic talents and her enthusiasm for natural resource stewardship to create a watershed-themed book for children.

Sonya, who was a finalist in the 2018 Caring for Our Watersheds competition, created watercolor illustrations for each page of her book, which introduces watershed concepts and encourages students to care for their local watershed with examples of what they can do in their daily lives to make a difference.  With funding from Nutrien, Sonya was able to print copies of her book and donate them to each of the elementary school libraries in the Washington Unified School District.

watershed childrens book example watershed childrens book example

Clean Water and Sanitation icon

Canyon Creek Trail Clean-Up

Trail clean-up group photo

2019, Auburn, California, USA

MET Sacramento High School student Faith Smitham was concerned with all the trash she saw along one of the most popular trails in the Auburn State Recreation Area, the Canyon Creek Trail. For her Caring for Our Watersheds project, Faith organized a clean-up of the trail and creek area, including the trailhead and parking area, where much trash is found.

On Saturday, May 11, Faith and her small group of volunteers spend around 4 hours cleaning up the trail, and talking to other visitors about her project. 

garbage clean up

As a result, several hikers actually joined in their clean-up efforts, contributing to the success of the day!  Faith also gathered data on the different types of trash they collected (plastic bottles were the most numerous) and planned to share this with park rangers, in case it may inform future signage, management, and the prevention of littering and pollution in this beautiful area.

Quality Education iconClean Water and Sanitation icon

Watershed Science Trip

2019, Sacramento, California, USA

Watershed Science Trip Student Photo

MET Sacramento student Simon Downes-Toney knows how a field trip can solidify and enhance classroom learning about watershed issues and also get students excited about science. As this was one of the largest snow-years on record, it presented an excellent opportunity to learn about the snowpack that is critical to California’s water supply.

Measuring snow depth and density at levels in the snowpit

Measuring snow depth and density at levels in the snowpit

Simon organized a trip to Claire Tappan Lodge, where students measured snow temperature and density at different levels within the snowpack, snow purity at different field locations, and graphed and analyzed their data. Simon’s proposal and funding from Nutrien allowed for more students to attend the trip and learn about how scientists track, study, and predict water supply with this critical resource.

Quality Education iconResponsible Consumption icon

Building a Compost Bench

compost bench construction 2019, Sacramento, California, USA

As a student at The MET Sacramento High School, Shamar Russell spends part of his week at an internship in the community. Shamar interns at the Creative Connections Arts Academy (CCAA), where two needs he saw in the garden area sparked an idea for his Caring for Our Watersheds project.

Shamar wanted to teach the children of CCAA about composting, but there was not a good space to build a 3-section compost bin. There was also a need for seating for a teaching space in the garden area.

compost bench

Shamar decided on a project that would fulfill both needs: a compost bench! While the bench has a smaller capacity for composting garden waste, it still can be used as a focal point to teach about composting to the students. It also serves as a place where students can sit for a lesson in the garden or where students and teachers can rest after planting, weeding, or harvesting.

The current design allows for a potential worm bin, or the bottom can be removed if ground contact is desired for more traditional composting. Signage will be included to point out this unique new feature of the garden space at CCAA. Caring for Our Watersheds funding helped Shamar purchase lumber and hardware to build the bench.

Quality Education iconResponsible Consumption icon


2019, Sacramento, California, USA

Kevin Alvarez-Vazquez, a student at the MET Sacramento, was concerned about the amount of food waste from his school that ends up in landfills. Food waste that decomposes in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is more potent than carbon dioxide. Kevin knew that traditional outdoor composting can convert food waste into nutrient rich soil, but he wanted to demonstrate an alternative that can be done indoors or outdoors, vermicomposting.

Kevin built a worm bin with special adjustments for indoor use, as he did not want extremities of weather to cause worms to die and needed maintenance to be an easy, regular part of the school day.

Kevin plans to educate advisory groups at his school and to create a flyer, with a “how to” diagram and materials list on one side and information about the benefits of vermicomposting on the other. Caring for Our Watersheds funding helped purchase materials and worms for the bin.