The rains give us our best opportunities for teaching Sonoma Valley kids about watersheds. Which is why Sonoma Ecology Center’s Watershed Education Programs are in full swing right now.
Our in-house educators, Holland Gistelli and Tony Passantino, are busy as ever this spring semester, bringing our Wildlife Defenders and Water Wonders programs – for second graders and fifth graders, respectively – to classrooms around the Valley.
For example, at Flowery, Dunbar and Prestwood elementary schools, dozens of Valley second graders have learned about the oak life cycle, investigated animal skulls to determine their adaptations, discovered the importance of habitat, and had a special presentation from Wildlife Fawn Rescue. Soon the students will be taking a field trip to Montini Open Space Preserve for first-hand experience of the oak woodland ecosystem. (Classes at El Verano, Sassarini, Kenwood, St. Francis, and Sonoma Charter elementary schools will also participate in Wildlife Defenders this spring.)
Meanwhile, fifth graders at Sonoma Charter, Kenwood, Sassarini and Flowery elementary schools are learning about watersheds through the lens of their own Sonoma Creek Watershed. They’ve reviewed the water cycle, explored watershed geography by creating 3D models, researched types of water pollution and their prevention, and are even dissecting salmon. These classes will be taking a field trip to the headwaters of Sonoma Creek at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, where they will explore streamside tree habitats, embark on a “quest” hike, and test water quality.
We believe that fostering appreciation of nature through these classes, while supplementing the education provided by local schools, will help the Valley’s lands and people for generations to come. That’s why our Watershed Education Programs are a big part of our mission and legacy.