March 27, 2015
Students and Teachers Have Restored Over 32 Miles of Bay Area Habitat
Thousands of kids with muddy shoes. More than 40,000 native plants in the ground along dozens of Bay Area creeks and wetlands. A few hundred local teachers rolling outdoor science education into their curriculums.
These statistics were worth celebrating during the recent Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed (STRAW) program’s 500th restoration along Tolay Creek in Sonoma County.
Over 50 students from Loma Verde Elementary School in Novato, Calif. planted native acorn and buckhorn seeds–future trees for wildlife habitat, erosion control and shade on land now owned by the Sonoma Land Trust, but slated to be a public park someday.
STRAW began over 20 years ago in Laurette Rogers‘ fourth-grade classroom, when her students asked what they could do to help save endangered species. Now, all these restorations later, over 38,000 K-12 students from schools throughout the Bay Area have helped restore well over 32 miles of habitat in such places as Pickleweed Park in San Rafael, the Hamilton wetlands restoration outside of Novato, Sonoma Baylands, along the Upper Pajaro River and many others.
Rogers now manages the programs as part of Point Blue Conservation Science and a small team of restoration specialists, conservation science educators and retired teachers who serve as volunteer faculty advisors. STRAW provides interactive classroom presentations that culminate into the local restoration project as well as ongoing workshops, networking and curriculum resources for teachers.
And the result was evident at Tolay Creek when, for the 500th time, an excited group of kids ran to grab shovels and gloves, seeds and wire mesh. Their comments showed they understood.
“It’s a good idea to plant trees,” said one second-grader. “They give us oxygen and shade, and food for animals.”
Watch: NBC news feature about STRAW’s 500th Restoration.
Read: front-page story about STRAW in the Marin Independent-Journal.
Learn more: about STRAW here.
Main Feature Photo: Jody Holzworth