Teaching the science and stewardship of water quality protection is one of SWEPs’ foundational programs. In the last several years, we have been generously supported through California’s Prop 50, among other sources. Prop 50 in the Tahoe Region has supported implementation and outreach on use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce non-point source pollution in our watersheds. SWEP’s part in Prop 50 has been to promote ways everyone can protect water quality by controlling non-point source pollution from our schools, homes, and communities.
Erosion, Watershed Protection, and Non-Point Source Pollution Control
SWEP believes that at the heart of creating environmental stewards lies student engagement with watershed protection. SWEP supports students in Water Quality exploration through the following programs:
- Sagehen – in partnership with UC Berkeley, SWEP supports 5th grade students throughout the basin for field studies at the Sagehen Research Station north of Truckee.
- School Based Field Projects – Watershed Restoration and Protection Project created and implemented by students at their school sites. SWEP programs involve students using their school sites as outdoor classrooms and service projects. Students improve their schools by revegetating bare soil, mapping water flow across playgrounds and examining the quality of that water, and creating interpretive signs about what everyone can do to improve water quality.
- Tahoe Basin Watershed Education Summit (TBWES) – Students from both South Shore and North Shore high schools work alongside scientific professionals in an intensive 3 day / 2 night experience to examine the effectiveness of watershed restoration projects. The students collect data important for developing future restoration activities for the Blackwood Creek watershed.
- Other Field Projects
- Junior Botany: The Jr. Botanist program is a unique learning opportunity designed to get students outdoors and developing critical observation skills. The Program is intended to teach students how to ID and name native plants of the Sierra Nevada and learn some of their basic characteristics. The program is founded on the belief that learning to identify native flora and their role in protecting water quality and habitats in the Region are the first steps to appreciating plants and starting to care for them.
- Trees are Terrific – This program engages students in the biology of trees and the role they play in stabilizing soil, protecting watersheds, and creating habitats.
- Outdoor Explore and Children’s Forest – Creating a strong connection between students and the natural world around them is the goal of this program. Through creative play and structured exploration, children learn about their environment and develop stewardship values toward protecting it.
Teacher and Volunteer Trainings
Teachers and volunteers are an integral part of educating students on the importance of watersheds. SWEP has put together teacher and volunteer trainings throughout the past several years. These include trainings for ProjectWET, Project Wild, Wild Aquatic, and Project Learning Tree.
- Earth Day – SWEP participates in the community celebration of Earth Day by hosting environmental exploration activities, including activities designed to protect watersheds.
- Open Houses – SWEP participates at school sites during Open House in the Fall and Spring, encouraging parents to interact with their children’s classroom and field projects related to watershed protection.
- River Day – SWEP helps the community celebrate the natural values of the Truckee River at Truckee River Day by hosting service restoration projects and a native fish release.
- Trashion Shows and Assemblies – At the core of this project are high school youths empowering younger youths and the community to take action towards conservation measures in the areas of water conservation, water quality, energy efficiency, composting and recycling, through “Lead it, Live it” Trashion Show Assemblies. A Trashion Show Assembly is a fashion show of artistic outfits made from trash, each with a commentary piece that is lighthearted, yet educational, sending a message of positive action.