Once Upon a Watershed is the only watershed-specific environmental education program available in local schools, and provides one of the only pre-paid opportunity for teachers to get their students out on field trips.
Throughout the course of the 3-year program, students learn about a diversity of topics in the natural sciences, including oak ecology, watersheds, and river processes through in-class presentations and field trips. Students get the opportunity to take field trips to places such as the Ojai Meadows Preserve, Confluence Preserve, Ventura River mouth, Foster Park, and various other spots along the Ventura River. On all field trips, students are given the opportunity to contribute to real ongoing restoration projects, often by planting native plants or picking up trash. In this way, students are empowered to help restore our open spaces.
On a recent field trip to the mouth of the river I asked the students if they knew what Surfrider does. One student said "Scoop the Poop!" This is a quote from "Sea to Summit", a video produced by the Surfrider Foundation and shown in the classroom part of the program. I think they were stoked to have a real 'Surfrider' talk to their class at the beach!
Several of the kids teamed up to remove a tire and tent half buried in the estuary. It took a half hour of digging and pulling...
Last month Once Upon a Watershed was informed that their 3-year federal grant has been withdrawn after the first year - a victim of the federal budget cuts.
Paul Jenkin is the Environmental Director of the Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and founder of the Matilija Coalition. The Surfrider Foundation is an international environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of the world’s waves and beaches through conservation, activism, research, and education (CARE).
Since 1994, Paul has worked to restore the coast and watershed where he lives, in Ventura, California.