Reaching Out to the Community

Mira Loma High School Students Introduce
the Outreach Portions of the Arcade Creek Project

by Lisa Kelly, Senior Manager of Outreach

The Arcade Creek Project began as a result of the International Baccalaureate Program coming to Mira Loma High School. The students and their instructors began studying nearby Arcade Creek, a beautiful neighborhood waterway that runs year-round just north of the school.

Today, the Creek Project is in its fifth year, and it has grown from encompassing seven components to eleven – eight studies, a restoration group, an outreach group and a data analysis group. The outreach group is the group which comes in contact with the public. We do this a number of ways, from participating in Creek Week and Sacramento Urban Creek Council’s newsletters to visiting elementary schools to emphasize the importance of the environment and why we want to protect it.

One major interaction the project has had with the public involves politics and government. A large section of the watershed feeding into the creek was almost sold to another local philanthropic group (they were planning on turning it into a parking lot). Because Mira Loma students had been running ecological surveys on this watershed parcel, they knew its importance to adjacent wetlands. They undertook a massive letter writing campaign and invited City Council members to the site to explain its importance. This political part of the process added a new dimension to the project. The proposed parking lot has been put on long term hold, and it seems that the students’ work has paid off.

Outreach works to make the community more aware of its environment. Its current projects are developing curricula for visiting elementary and middle schools and teaching classes about caring for the environment, representing the Arcade Creek Project at various environmental symposia and gatherings, publishing a column in a local environmental newsletter promoting the interests of the creek, and generally reaching out to the community about our project and the environment.

This year, Outreach will be bringing this comprehensive project into classrooms in kid-sized portions. We are creating curriculum at this moment that will translate into even greater levels of stewardship and community service. We’re hoping to inspire kids at a young age to feel a responsibility for the environment. We feel it is but one manner in which we can do our part to contribute to a generation of people who will be prepared to face the challenges of sustaining the world for generations to come.

We plan to do all this with a series of curriculum that teachers can choose from, including Dr. Seuss’s timeless classic story, The Lorax. This story is a great tool for teaching kids about the importance of environmental awareness and conservation. Another curriculum involves understanding proper lab technique as an incredibly important component of any science education. This lesson will teach students about listing a hypothesis, experimental and control groups, materials and methods, procedure, data, data analysis, and conclusion in lab reports while giving them hands-on education about the environment. Yet another involves informing students about the importance of protecting the quality of water, soil, air, and wildlife habitats as well as the importance of preserving biodiversity for environmental and aesthetic reasons.

This outreach group hopes to promote and motivate children to form healthy, lasting relationships with nature by generating an interest in the protection of natural resources. We hope to pass on the understanding that the Earth has provided for and nourished us for millions of years. Yet, with the destruction of the environment from our consumption and industry, we are endangering ourselves and all posterity. The environment must be protected – for ourselves, for our children. And who better to train to protect it than those same children?

This article originally appeared in our Fall 2005 Newsletter


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