Pictured: the Ventura River. Photo by Kimberly Rivers.
by Kimberly Rivers
Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) is looking for eight middle and high school science teachers to receive training and support for a new environmental science program called Ventura River Action Network (V-RAN).
The VUSD program will focus on the monitoring and restoration of the Ventura river catchment area and the support and removal of the Matilija dam. The program is designed to collaborate with local and state environmental organizations working on these issues.
The program will be administered in partnership with the MERITO Foundation, Ventura Water and UC Davis Center for Community and Citizen Science. It is funded through a three-year National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Watershed Training and Training Fellowship.
The program offers on-the-job professional development training for teachers, as well as webinars and a science curriculum, with stipends for eight science teachers per school year over three years, as well as live and virtual monitoring. Once underway, the program will involve 600-750 local students in the Ventura River watershed and related coastal areas.
A feature of the program includes a STEM competition in which students will design a plan to reduce the footprint of their school campus.
NOAA’s educational program is based on the concept of providing Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) with an emphasis on ‘authentic and locally relevant experiential learning for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. 12th grade ”. These learning environments can be both indoor and outdoor and will aim to increase “understanding and stewardship of watersheds and related ecosystems” and to strengthen environmental literacy. Ultimately, the program aims to prepare students to identify the environmental issues around them and to be able to come up with solutions so that they are empowered to protect and restore watersheds.
Grant funding is provided on a regional basis and provides location-specific STEM resources and expertise for teacher training and program implementation as local education priorities are identified.