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About Us

Once Upon a Watershed (OUW) engages youth, primarily at Title one public schools in the Ventura and Santa Clara River watersheds, to enrich their understanding of their water source and the importance of protecting and enhancing its health through direct restorative action. OUW’s mission is to cultivate a sense of shared responsibility for our whole earth system, instilling confidence and hope by empowering the next generation to make a tangible difference at their local watershed scale.

Once Upon a Watershed is a program of the CREW and partners with the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC), Ventura Land Trust, California Conservation Corps, Ojai, Ventura and Rio Unified School districts, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, the Cities of Ojai and Ventura, the County of Ventura, Pax Environmental and Sierra Watershed Progressive. 
Established with three schools in 2005, Once Upon a Watershed now reaches youth in kindergarten, 4th, 5th and 6th grade classes in sixteen public and two independent schools in Ventura County. In 2022 we served 1,349 students and 49 teachers at 15 schools. 
Once Upon a Wetland

Once Upon a Watershed began as a project called 'Once Upon a Wetland', founded by Sara Brooke Benjamin in partnership with the Oak Grove School, 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.

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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

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.

This project expanded into the program we know and love today called Once Upon a Watershed. 

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