Ventura River Watershed
Once Upon a Watershed is a project of Oak Grove School in partnership with the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy and the Ojai and Ventura Unified School Districts with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's "B-WET" grant program. This project provides hands-on watershed education, restoration, and stewardship experience to 4th, 5th and 6th grade students in the Ventura River Watershed. This includes students in both the Ojai (upper watershed) and Ventura (lower watershed) communities. The program is correlated with the Science Content Standards for all three grades and has three phases: (1) an in-class assembly presentation and slideshow to set the stage and provide context for the field experience, (2) a hands-on restoration and/or stewardship experience in the field, and (3) a reflective in-class follow-up activity. Over the long term, this program is designed to provide all three components of the program to every student passing through the local public school system.
For 4th grade students, the program revolves around “The Story of Our Oaks,” helping students understand why oak trees are an important part of the watershed’s local ecology and the role acorns have played in native Chumash life and culture. For the restoration and stewardship activity, students collect both Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) and Valley Oak (Quercus lobata) acorns and then plant them on the Ojai Meadows Preserve, Ventura River Preserve, and/or Confluence Preserve. Students also take acorns home with instructions and personal experience to help them plant a tree in their own neighborhoods--which are, of course, also part of the watershed!
For 5th grade students, the program revolves around “The Story of Our Watershed.” Students are introduced to the Ventura River watershed to help them understand what a watershed is, who lives in the watershed, and why a healthy watershed is important to the health of our World Ocean. The water cycle is explored in the context of our local area (so that students know where their water comes from and where it goes). Recognizing that native plants help conserve water, decrease erosion and pollution, and recharge groundwater, Ojai students plant native species on the Ojai Meadows Preserve. Students from Ventura schools conduct a estuary and beach clean-up near the mouth of the Ventura River.
For 6th grade students, the program revolves around “The Story of Our River,” which will introduce them to the Matilija Dam removal project and related, locally relevant topics such as sediment transport, flood plain processes, beach nourishment, and longshore transport. As a stewardship activity, students plant mulefat and willow cuttings to stabilize the streambank at the Confluence Preserve.
This project is made possible by support from Oak Grove School and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s “B-WET” grant program. Thank you!
"Once Upon a Watershed," by Derek Poultney, Newsletter of the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, Fall 2008.
In Partnership with:
Once Upon a Watershed
Ojai Meadows Preserve
Once Upon a Wetland is a past project of Oak Grove School in partnership with the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, Meiners Oaks Elementary School, and Nordhoff High School with funding from the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and NOAA’s B-WET grant program. Our goal was to connect these students with their own backyard, their home, their place-- in other words, their watershed-- by engaging them in the restoration and stewardship of the historic wetland located on the Ojai Meadow Preserve, a 58-acre open space directly adjacent to all three schools in Ojai, CA.
Students of all grade levels worked to restore native plant communities out on the meadow by collecting seed, propagating and planting native plants, and removing invasive weeds. Students also helped out with authentic scientific monitoring and other stewardship activities, including water quality monitoring, soil sampling and testing, wildlife surveys, plant success rate monitoring, and litter removal.
In the process of caring for our wetland, students also learned about the importance and value of a healthy watershed community, with emphasis on the intrinsic ecological relationships of all things within the watershed and the direct connection of our Ventura River Watershed to the local ocean environment. The culminating experience was a day trip to either Santa Cruz or Anacapa Islands, where the students could apply their newly found restoration skills to ecological communities out on the islands.
This project was made possible by support from Oak Grove School and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s “B-WET” grant program. Thank you!
Related Articles:"The Wet and the Wild," by Nao Braverman, Ojai Valley News,
April 6, 2007.
"Once Upon a Wetland," by Sara Benjamin, Oak Grove Magazine, Fall 2006.