The STRAW Program is combatting climate change with every restoration. STRAW coordinates and sustains a network of teachers, students, restoration specialists and community members to plan and implement professional watershed restoration.
STRAW empowers communities to heal the land, revitalize habitats, generate cleaner water, sequester carbon, empower children, and inspire the next generation of conservation leaders.
Each year approximately 3,500 students participate in 50 restoration work days, often planting 4,500 native plants!
STRAW students and partners restore habitat. Restoration prevents erosion, retains more water on the land, and provides habitat for wildlife - critical elements of resilience in the context of our rapidly changing climate. Here are some of the benefits of STRAW restoration:
- Each mile of stream habitat STRAW restores sequesters an average of 289 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents every year for at least the next 50 years, equal to taking 55 cars off the road or offsetting the energy use of 24 homes each year.
- For every dollar invested in the STRAW Program, California citizens recieve a return value of $14.22 in environmental benefits. This vlaue is based on storm water treatment and wildlife habitat, but does not include additional value fromcarbon emission offsets and benefits of science education.
- Each STRAW restoration project increases the number and diversity of birds, and collectively the impact is even greater. The number of bird species detected at STRAW sites has gone from as low as 0 species (pre-restoration) to as high as 30 after restoration.
Maintenance and Monitoring
In addition to the high quality of work done by the students during their restoration workday, the success of each restoration depends on site maintenance. Each site is maintained by STRAW staff, interns, volunteers and students when possible for three summers following its planting date.
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STRAW provides teachers with resources, materials, and technical support to integrate watershed content into their classroom. Environmental science education is delivered in coordination with other school science curriculum throughout the school year. STRAW maintains long-term relationships with teachers, many of whom return year after year. The STRAW Program operates under project-based, inquiry-based and place-based learning models.
STRAW's Science Education:
- reaches approximately 3,500 students each year,
- connects student learning to real-world issues and solutions,
- helps teachers meet Next Generation Science Standards,
- improves students understanding of watersheds and their importance to the environment.
Teacher Professional Development
Teachers who participate in the STRAW Program are invited to annual teacher professional development events including two Network Events and a three-day teacher training institute in August, called Watershed Week. This ongoing professional development program for teachers provides training in restoration methodology, investigative watershed studies, and project-oriented pedagogy, building teacher proficiency to deliver meaningful watershed-based experiences to their students.
The STRAW Faculty formed in August 2007 to support classroom teachers and students in their studies of the environment and their participation in the STRAW Program. The STRAW Faculty is composed of veteran teachers and other community members who serve as classroom resources. In addition to preparing students for their specific creek or wetlands restoration, STRAW Faculty partner with teachers, upon request, to teach specific lessons related to the students’ environmental studies. Our teachers may also request consultation with the Faculty to develop ideas for their environmental science curriculum.
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The STRAW Program was started by students in 1992 as the Shrimp Project in Laurette Rogers’ 4th grade classroom. The students were inspired to help the endangered California Freshwater Shrimp. By working with ranchers and professional restoration designers they planted native willows along Stemple Creek and began to restore the shrimp's riparian (streamside) habitat.
STRAW transitioned from being a project of The Bay Institute to being a program of Point Blue Conservation Science in 2011.
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A Simple Question, produced, directed and written by David Donnefield and Kevin White, looks at a remarkable program that brings together school children and their teachers with community groups and agencies to undertake habitat restoration on privately-owned ranch land. It all started more than 21 years ago when Laurette Rogers, a fourth grade teacher, showed a film on endangered species to her class. Stricken by the weight of species extinction, one student plaintively asked what he and his class mates could do to save endangered species. That simple question, innocent yet profound, ignited something in Laurette that launched her and her class on an inspired voyage of discovery and transformation.
View the trailer below from Trent Boeschen on Vimeo.
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