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Our Program

Once Upon a Watershed programs address a diversity of environmental issues that relate to the health of watersheds worldwide, while focusing on the Ventura River Watershed and the effects of the Matilija Dam.


These include water use and conservation, water quality, marine debris, plastic pollution, beach erosion, the importance of healthy free-flowing rivers, the value and functions of wetlands, the significance of native oak woodland ecosystems, and the importance of Southern Steelhead Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) as an indicator species in our region.


This project provides hands-on watershed education, restoration, and stewardship experiences to kindergarten, 4th, 5th and 6th grade students in the Ventura River Watershed.

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We enable youth to become environmental stewards through their engagement in quantifiable conservation efforts in critical wetland, riparian and estuarine habitats in the Ventura River Watershed. It is clear that wetland, riparian and estuarine areas are critical to our watersheds. Restoration and preservation requires an ecologically literate citizenry. OUW is the longest running direct action project in the Ventura River Watershed, involving hands-on restoration with local youth. The Once Upon a Watershed project fills the critical need for our next generation to be actively involved in watershed restoration and protection.

Once Upon a Watershed is a project of the CREW in partnership with the Ojai, Ventura and Rio Unified School Districts with funding from local grants and donations. We currently offer our program to 16 title one public schools in the Ventura and Santa Clara watersheds

OUW programs are 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 at these schools.

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