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January 03, 2013

The Youth Watershed Stewardship Program is a partnership between UMRWA, the Central Sierra Resource Conservation and Development (CSR&D) and its educational partner, Stewardship Through Education, LLC (STE). Funded and supported by UMRWA member agencies, the program reaches about 1,000 students each year in Amador and Calaveras counties. Children from traditional public schools, court schools and those in home schools have all participated in our programs. The CSRC&D and STE have forged partnerships with local water agencies, county governments, environmental educators and community groups resulting in new outdoor education opportunities for children. Program accomplishments since its inception in 2005 include the following:

(a) Published Circles and Cycles, the Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Guide for Educators in Calaveras and Amador Counties, a K-12 curriculum with in-class and field trip lesson plans

(b) Developed Watershed Science Service Learning Module, stream-based high school science methods and lessons

(c) Conducted annual in-service teacher training for Circles and Cycles

(d) Mentored teachers in environmental education and associated field and lab activities, including web-based technical support, to achieve and maintain teacher self-sufficiency

(e) Maintained lending library of monitoring equipment, water testing kits, and science modules

(f) Provided grants to pay transportation costs to visit local streams, lakes, and water and wastewater treatment facilities

The guide, Circles and Cycles, the Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Guide for Educators in Calaveras and Amador Counties, has six themes relating to stewardship of the watershed: Interdependency, Sense of Place, Journey of Waters, Riparian Habitat, Earth's Many Forces and California-the Changing State. These themes include lessons that help students map their own water supply, act out the water cycle, understand water and wastewater treatment, learn native plants and their uses by Native Americans, and study life cycles of aquatic invertebrates and salmon. In all three counties, water and wastewater agencies have agreed to have students visit their treatment facilities.

In the Watershed Science Service Learning Module, in-class and field lessons introduce young science students to water quality testing and the importance of these parameters to stream health. Students also measure numerous instream and bank features to evaluate whether physical features support aquatic life. Students evaluate land use impacts in the classroom and the likely impacts on streams. In keeping with the recent development of bio-criteria to identify cumulative adverse impacts to streams, students collect and categorize benthic macro-invertebrates, then evaluate stream health based on abundance, species tolerance, and biodiversity.

For further information, visit www.steonline.org