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Water Conservation Open House

Girl holding 500 dollar cheque for environmental contest winner

Hana Yang is a student in Grant High School’s GEO Academy, and a 2022 Caring for Our Watersheds finalist. With funding from Nutrien and the help of her fellow classmates at Grant, Hana organized and facilitated an Open House event on campus to demonstrate various techniques to conserve water in the landscape and home. Stations included information on drought tolerant plants, mulching, composting, drip irrigation, and water conservation devices such as soil moisture meters, faucet aerators, and low-flow showerheads. Free samples of water-wise plants and devices were available to community members.

Students standing at station for orange poppy Boy learning about conserving water outside at info station

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Campus Trash and Recycling Bins

Students standing around bins
Tokay High School students Kendra Goudie, Harmandeep Batth, Prabhleen Kaur, Conner Gallo are involved in the Sustainability Committee for the NorCal Science Festival, an event held annually at their school. They realized that actions focused on sustainability for the event can also promote positive environmental behaviors year-round on their campus. Their Caring for Our Watersheds project seeks to prevent the flow of litter into the storm drains that lead to the river from Tokay High. The group did an analysis of the waste disposal system on campus and found that there are very few trash receptacles and no recycling bins in areas of high student occupancy at mealtime. Through this analysis and prior clean-up events, they also identified areas on campus with the most littering issues. To address the issues, the team purchased upcycled wine barrels to utilize as trash and recycling receptacles. They will also install signage to encourage use and show students which items can be placed in the barrels. In addition, the group also plans on co- sponsoring “Litterati” clean-up challenges, in partnership with the City of Lodi, to promote a litter-free campus through student behavior and action.

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Let’s Be Plastic Free: A Social Media Advocacy Campaign


Student standing with $1000 Environmental Contest Winner cheque
Clara Nordahl, a student at Mira Loma High School, took first place in the 2022 Caring for Our Watersheds competition. Clara demonstrated her design skills and political savvy with her project to advocate for passage of the 2022 California Plastic Waste Reduction Regulations (CPWRR) Initiative and a reduction in the consumption of single-use plastic. Clara aims to raise awareness and garner support for the initiative and cause, and to that end, has designed several appealing infographics which she shared online through public social media ads. Clara’s proposal was well-written, thoroughly researched, and clearly presented. By implementing her project, she was able to further education and outreach on the monumental problem of single-use plastic waste.

Infographic on the plastic waste reduction regulations initiative Recycling poster

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Starting a Compost System on Campus

Compost system
Samuel Hartsell-Jenkins and Kirby Slagle from The MET Sacramento High School developed a solid project to start and maintain a composting system on campus to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfills. By composting organic waste, the school will reduce its contribution to greenhouse gasses, particularly methane, which is produced by anaerobic decomposition of organic matter in landfills. The team started to implement their plan in the spring of 2022, and will continue to educate and engage students in the composting process during the upcoming school year. Caring for Our Watersheds funding helped them purchase the bins for food waste collection and composting, as well as materials needed to maintain the compost, and promote use of the system.

Student lifting top of compost bin Student standing behind compost bin Students holding $400 environment contest winner cheque

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American River clean-up


Trash in bag
Lillian Lampley and Ximena Mundo, students at The MET Sacramento High School are very worried about the amount of litter on the riverbank and in the water of the American River. After researching, they learned that the American river is “the most heavily used recreation river in California”( The litter not only impacts recreation and visitor experience, but also can have many negative effects on the environment. Fish, birds, and other wildlife in and around the aquatic environment might consume bits of plastic or other waste that are toxic to them, or they could get trapped in plastic bags or 6-pack rings. Other trash may introduce toxins into the water or even increase fire hazard in the riparian area. The team assembled a group of classmates and family members to participate in their clean-up on June 2 along a stretch of the American River between Sutter’s Landing and the 16th street bridge. To encourage student participation, the team confirmed with their school that the clean-up would count towards community service requirements. With this project, the team provided a great day to engage in watershed stewardship and to reflect on how human behavior and waste impacts the river.

Group of students cleaning up beside river

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Xeriscaping on Campus


Students posing by their drought resistance plants
George Washington Carver School of Arts and Sciences students Nickole Lacourse and Maya Mendoza are concerned about the multi-year drought that California is experiencing, and particularly how much water is typically used to maintain outdoor landscapes. They devised a plan to xeriscape an area of campus with drought-tolerant species. The team prepped the garden area and adjacent raised bed by removing weeds and adding soil and compost, then planted a variety of species known to thrive with very little water, such as California fuschia. They also installed drip irrigation in their plot, which will serve as a demonstration garden highlighting water-wise, landscaping plants and practices.

Garden bed that has drough-tolerant plant species

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Litter Clean-up along the American River

Students walking along river cleaning up

George Washington Carver School of Arts and Sciences students Will Sakurai and Edgar Paniagua live close to the American River and enjoy spending time there to relax and swim, especially during the hot summers. They have noticed an increasing amount of litter along the riverbanks, some left from recreational visitors and some from the increasing amount of homeless encampments along the river. They decided to do a straightforward riverbank clean-up along a stretch of the American river that gets high use and is heavily impacted. In this way, they could not only help to clean the area and prevent the trash from entering the water and being washed downstream, but also demonstrate to others that we can all be better stewards of this beloved resource.

Students posing in front of building

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Pollinator and Drought-tolerant Garden

Girl planting drought tolerant plants
Georgia Walder and Rory Strain, students at George Washington Carver School of Arts and Sciences, are concerned about the decline of pollinators. Through their research, they learned that loss of habitat, as well as pesticide drift are some of the threats to pollinator populations. They wanted to create a pollinator friendly habitat free of pesticides to support native bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. Georgia and Rory, well aware of the multi-year drought in California knew they wanted to create their garden with water conservation in mind. Their garden plan included the use drought tolerant plants and drip irrigation to efficiently water them to help them get established. The pair also used their artistic creativity to create an enticing, beautiful space. The team utilized social media to share their project, plan, and progress and to educate others in their community on how to help pollinators thrive.

Student painting fence Students posing in front of drougtht-tolerant garden

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Promoting Eco-friendly Art


Screenshot from website

Arana Katasema, Bella Marroquin,Jaiden Gonzales, Bernie Xicotencatl, student from George Washington Carver High School, are creative students with a unique project. This team addressed an issue that has never seen before in the Caring for Our Watersheds-California contest, but was very relevant to them as Resin artists. Their project aimed to promote the use of an eco-friendly art material, Ecopoxy, as an alternative to synthetic resins currently used by many artists. Some synthetic resin products can be harmful to the environment and have adverse effects on human/ animal health. The team created a website and blog and hosted a booth at the Sacramento Earth Day Festival to display their art made of Ecopoxy and educate the public.

Students sitting behind promotion table for eco-friendly art Students measuring our substances for eco-friendly materials

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Composting on Campus


Students setting up composing materials
Alice Lanier and Nicholas Connors, student at George Washington Carver School of Arts and Sciences, were concerned about the food waste being generated on their school’s campus. Through their research, they learned that when this food waste ends up buried in a landfill, it undergoes anaerobic decomposition, which releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In their proposal, they enthusiastically declared “we believe that we can create a compost system that will help make our school green and educate others on the power of composting.” Alice and Nic reached out to the local community compost collective, ReSoil Sacramento, to get advice and learn about different techniques and options to compost at school. They bought collection bins and created signage to collect food waste at lunch. They also bought tools they needed to transport the food waste to the garden area, as well as materials such as straw to aid in the composting process. As traditional compost bins can fill quickly, ReSoil suggested composting some of the food scraps directly into existing garden beds, which proved successful. Alice and Nic were grateful for funding from Nutrien, which allowed them to learn from community experts, implement their project, and engage fellow students in the process.

Students standing behind composting bins