Watershed Biology Trip Group

2018, Sacramento, California, USA

Evelin Pelayo knew that if her fellow students were to become stewards of the watershed, they first needed to engage directly with it through hands-on study of our natural resources. Without this direct experience, she felt it would be more difficult for her classmates to feel connected to the natural world and make choices to protect it. Therefore, Evelin wrote a proposal to fund a field trip to Donner Summit, where students would collect and analyze data under the guidance of Headwaters Institute staff.

Watershed Biology Trip 1

Each group studied a different aspect of Watershed Biology. For example, her group studied water depth and flow in relation to the number and species of invertebrates, while another sampled vegetation at various distances from water to compare.

Evelin’s Caring for Our Watersheds proposal and funding from Nutrien helped more of her classmates have this unique experience, in which they learned about scientific data collection techniques, the interaction of biotic and abiotic factors, the local environment, and each other on a whole new level.

Putah Creek Clean-Up

2018, Sacramento/Davis, California, USA

While Simon Downes-Toney goes to school at The MET Sacramento, he lives in the nearby town of Davis, California. Therefore, when choosing a location for his Caring for Our Watersheds project, he chose a place near and dear to his home and heart, the banks of Putah Creek.

Putah Creek flows through the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, where many students and residents utilize a paved path along the waterway. Simon organized a clean-up day, where he and his fellow classmates walked this riparian corridor and collected trash and debris.

This simple, straightforward project helped keep trash from entering the waterway, protected wildlife and waterfowl that reside there, and cleaned and beautified a public space enjoyed by many in the community.



2018, Sacramento, California, USA

Vertical Garden Demonstration

As Ella Mills and Ava Siemering of George Washington Carver High School shared an interest in horticulture, they knew they wanted to grow plants as part of their Caring for Our Watersheds project.

After doing some research, they learned about vertical gardens and how they can allow people to utilize the space available in urban environments more efficiently and economically. In addition, they can help improve air quality in congested areas, as well as provide food, aesthetic value, and energy savings. They decided that they wanted to experiment with different designs for these gardens using recycled, or reclaimed materials and create one as a demonstration for their garden class at school.

This process led them to create a small vertical garden which demonstrated how to place plants with higher water requirements on top and plants that need less water below. The lower plants can survive on what drips out of the holes from the ones watered on top. They presented their hands-on experiment in water conservation and horticulture to the students in the garden club and talked about the benefits of vertical gardening.


Campus Mural and Garden

2018, Sacramento, California, USA

Jesha Morgan, Jackson Mossman, Emma Lotter, and Dominic Wing, students at George Washington Carver School of Arts and Sciences, combined their passions for art and gardening in their Caring for Our Watersheds project. 

Campus Mural

In an effort to communicate an environmental message, beautify their campus, and demonstrate water-wise planting, this group completed a project that included painting a large water- and nature-themed mural and planting a small California native species garden in an adjacent area. They hope to awaken a sense of environmental consciousness in the student body as they see and interact with the art and garden.


2018, Sacramento, California, USASimple Solutions Student and Presentation

Emily Crofoot, a student at The MET Sacramento High School, wanted to not only educate her fellow students on some important environmental issues and how humans have impacted them, but to also present some simple solutions that would not require a radical lifestyle change and would have financial and/ or health benefits for students too.

She created a presentation entitled “Simple Solutions for Long- Term Effects” and presented it to 8 advisory classes at school. To encourage students to participate in the presentation/ discussion, Emily held a raffle. Students would receive tickets when they answered questions or contributed to the discussion. After the presentation, she would draw tickets and the raffle winners took home various sustainable goods, such as reusable water bottles, pencils made from recycled newspapers etc.

A fun way to engage students in an important topic!


2018, Sacramento, California, USADrip Irrigation MET

As Vice President of the Garden Club at The MET Sacramento High School, Isa Sheikh had ideas for making the garden a more water efficient, sustainable operation. With Caring for Our Watersheds project funding, he installed a drip irrigation system that would allow each plant to be watered directly, reducing moisture loss through evaporation.

The timer installed with the system allows plants to be watered at the most appropriate times of day (which is not always when the club is meeting on campus), and watering can continue on school breaks and throughout the summer. This simple upgrade to the school garden is conserving water and helping to grow a thriving garden on campus.

Bike Powered Charger

2018, Sacramento, California, USA

Bike Powered Charger

Justis Cooper had a unique idea to build a bike/ pedal powered generator students could use in the school workout room to charge their cell phones. This project will help demonstrate an energy-saving device (by “self” producing energy through pedaling) and encourage interest in sustainable technology at his school, The MET Sacramento.

Justis interns at a bike shop in Sacramento, so he had some “industry” knowledge and a mentor to help him complete his project. He plans on including signage by the bike to highlight the project and so students understand what they are using, how it works, and the potential energy savings. Stay fit and fully charged!


Compost Bin for GW Carver California

2018, Sacramento, California, USA

To complement Carver’s robust school garden, Stan Tokarev and Mevin Deo are building a three-sectioned bin to start a composting system at school.

This will divert food and garden waste from the local landfill, provide nutrient-rich soil for the garden, and demonstrate the process and environmental benefits of composting.

The students are using a combination salvaged and new materials for the bin.



2017, Sacramento, California, USA

Aquaponics at Mira Loma

Ravina Sidhu took 4th place in the Caring for Our Watersheds finals for her excellent proposal to build an aquaponics system on her school’s campus to demonstrate this water and resource efficient growing system. After Ravina proposed this project, her sister Jasleen (pictured above w/ teacher C. Kelly) helped to build and install the aquaponics system at school in order to cultivate native plants for an ongoing riparian restoration project. Aquaponics, a system that combines the raising of fish with the growing of plants, uses substantially less water than traditional growing as water and nutrients are recycled in a closed-loop fashion.



2017, Sacramento, California, USA

Water Filter Mira Loma

Mira Loma High School students Savannah Bosley and Jesus Gonzalez were concerned about the amount of disposable plastic bottles used by students on their campus. Savannah, as President of the Recycling club, saw bins and trash cans overloaded with these bottles everyday. Many students said they brought these single-use water bottles to school because of the poor tasting water at fountains, or because the fountains were old and did not work well and because there was not a place to fit water bottles under to fill up.

Savannah and Jesus decided that a water filtration system on campus would help alleviate some of these issues by providing a convenient source of filtered water for students and staff. When looking into options, there were some restrictions with both plumbing and security issues that did not allow for the installation of the popular Elkay water filling station at a central location on campus. After discussing alternatives with school staff, Savannah and Jesus installed filter units on the sink faucets in multiple classrooms at school, allowing easy access to filtered water for all students on campus throughout the day.