SWEP along with other organizations are getting students familiar with their natural classroom by emphasizing science and environmental education read more about it here:
TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — Here among the high peaks of the Sierra, we live in an amazing natural classroom. Every Tahoe/Truckee kid should be an expert on forest ecology, hydrology and geology.
But these days with busy schedules, parental fear and some schools geared toward preparing children for testing and college, children are not spending as much time playing in the forest and learning about nature.
Fortunately, a variety of local organizations have stepped up to the plate to fill the nature knowledge gap.
They are teaching children to get excited about science and the natural world and in doing so, better understand themselves.
Here is a local organization taking on this challenge:
SWEP (SIERRA WATERSHED EDUCATION PARTNERSHIPS) — 4SWEP.ORG
SWEP has a long list of programs geared toward developing an interest in children in becoming good global citizens, including an Environmental and Sustainability Club, in which students meet and explore green service projects such as recycling, and energy conservation.
“Our mission is trying to promote stewardship, connecting students to the environment,” says Executive Director Missy Mohler. “Service learning is a big part of what we do.”
The Tahoe Basin Watershed Education Summit is another example of SWEP success.
For several years, students monitored Blackwood Canyon for three days to provide the science needed to develop programs to restore damaged sections of the canyon.
The students came from all over the region to test the creek’s water, evaluate the condition of the habitat, and graph the data.
“Just because you live around nature, it doesn’t mean you know it. In a classroom at Tahoe, you learn the same thing you learn in Sacramento. We need to take advantage of where we live,” says Mohler.
It’s a win-win with SWEP’s U.S. Forest Service partners as well. While the Forest Service had the money to do restoration work in Blackwood, it needed the human power of all those students, and a grant from Clif Bar, to obtain data to make sure the restoration program is a success.
“I want to teach kids they can make a difference,” Mohler says.
Another important program at SWEP is the Winter Discovery Center in the yurt at Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area.
There, students are taught hands-on winter science information and survival skills, and then see the science up close while skiing the Tahoe XC trails.
Tim Hauserman, a nearly lifelong resident of Tahoe City, is a freelance author and cross-country ski instructor. He wrote “Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children” as well as “Gertrude’s Tahoe Adventures in Time.” Email him here, and read the entire article in the Sierra Sun.