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Once Upon A Watershed Makes A Difference: Ojai & Ventura Children in Grades 4 – 6 Learn About the Outdoors

This week local educators David White and Heather King took Topa Topa, Oak Grove, and Summit school sixth grade students on an adventure at Ojai Valley Land Conservancy’s new, not yet open to the public, Ventura River Steelhead Preserve.  At the preserve these children, through the Once Upon a Watershed (OUW) program, continued their hands on education about the Ventura River watershed.  More than 100 students planted native plants and participated in child led exploration which is commonly known as “coyote learning”. Greg Gamble of the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC), who attended one of these adventures said, “It was great to see how interested the children were when David and Heather were sharing details about everything from damsel flies to medicinal plants used by the Chumash.  We are so pleased to be able to offer, because of community support, these outdoor classrooms to children from Ojai and Ventura.  It is part of our mission to ensure that open space preservation benefits people, and there is no better example.”

Ventura River protected for the future

Ventura River

OUW has presented its environmental education programs to elementary public school students in the Ventura River watershed for the past 6 years. In the 2010-2011 academic year over 40 classes and 1300 students from a wide range of ethnicities and socioeconomic conditions participated in the program. The goal of the program is to inspire a strong stewardship ethic in the next generation.

Three grades participate; the fourth grade program is “The Story of Our Oaks.” “The Story of our Watershed” is for the fifth grade: and for the sixth grade, “The Story of our River.” Each program has an in-class presentation, sometimes delivered by OVLC’s Brian Stark, a hands-on restoration experience at one of the OVLC preserves and a reflective follow-up activity.

Through collaboration with OVLC made possible by the Bruce & Marilyn Wallace Foundation, this Once Upon a Watershed program will continue to offer students learning opportunities that make real contributions to larger land conservation efforts.

Steelhead Fall 2012-Brian Stark

Steelhead River Preserve

The OUW program cultivates a sense of shared responsibility for the environment and instills confidence and hope by empowering young people to make a real difference as they develop an understanding of the watershed’s ecology and cultural history.

The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy is a 25 year old member driven organization which has completed many land protection projects in addition to establishing the Ojai Meadows, Ventura River, Ilvento, and Confluence Preserves.  With continued community support it is teaching children how to keep Ojai as beautiful tomorrow as it is today.

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