The Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship Program (SLEWS) was developed by the Center for Land-Based Learning, in Sacramento, to engage high school students in environmental stewardship that allows students to practice scientific skills, learn from natural resource professionals, and expand on classroom concepts, while accomplishing real habitat restoration projects on farms, ranches and open spaces.
Students visit a field site at least twice throughout the year to perform conservation work and meet with their mentors. By visiting the site more than once, the students feel connected to the land they are working on and look forward to returning and further positively impacting the site. The Inland Empire Resource Conservation District works with two student groups and two landowners each year to implement the SLEWS Program in our region. For more information on the program, visit the SLEWS website: http://landbasedlearning.org/slews or contact IERCD Project Manager, Susie Kirschner at firstname.lastname@example.org
2015-2016 SLEWS Program
Highland Springs Resort
During the 2015-2016 SLEWS program, students from Citrus Valley High School worked at Highland Springs Resort in Cherry Valley, CA. The resort operates a farm with over 20 acres of lavender and olive trees and over 70 acres of grazing land for livestock. Through an NRCS funded project, the students worked on a large restoration project to reseed a hillside covered in invasive mustard with native species. The students first prepared the soil by removing the invasive mustard and then applied seed to the cleared areas. In the spring, students monitored the success of the seeding using quadrants to perform a presence/absence survey. They also constructed bluebird boxes and installed them at the foot of the hillside slope.
Caption: Students from Citrus Valley High School preparing to clear invasive mustard in order to reseed the area with native species.
Students from Arroyo Valley High School visited Loch Leven, a camp that has existed in different capacities since the 1920’s, in Mentone, CA. The camp hosts overnight groups, conferences, and other programs and has worked with our federal partner, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, for many years to conserve and protect the natural habitat. In the fall of 2015, students visited the site to install native plants on the property and learn from our partner, the Santa Ana Watershed Association, about birds and bats. The students returned in the spring of 2016 to install an even larger scale native plant garden that will be used as an educational area for student groups visiting the camp. Students also worked on removing invasive plant species throughout the camp and learned about aquatic organisms in the stream running through the camp.
Caption: Students from Arroyo Valley High School installing a native plant garden for Loch Leven to use as an educational tool for student groups visiting the camp.
2016-2017 SLEWS Program
Huerta Del Valle
Students from Rialto High School are participating in our 2016-2017 SLEWS program at Huerta Del Valle (HDV) Community Garden in Ontario, CA. Maria Alonso and Arthur Levine manage the garden with the vision of providing healthy produce and a gathering space for their community. The first field day took place on October 26th at which time students built a rain capture system to collect rainwater from the roof of HDV’s greenhouse to recycle throughout the garden. The greenhouse was constructed using funds from our federal partner the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Students also helped compost a truckload of food waste that HDV collected from sites throughout the community including schools and local businesses. The students were shocked at the amount of food waste produced and the excellent condition of the food waste. Rialto High School students will return in the spring to plant fruit trees and perform an insect inventory to monitor the health of the garden.
Caption: Students from Rialto High School dump collected food waste at Huerta Del Valle Community Garden. HDV is developing compost from local food waste to apply to the garden in order to return nutrients to the soil.
Highland Springs Resort
Students from Citrus Valley High School are working at Highland Springs Resort, in Cherry Valley, CA, for the 2016-2017 SLEWS program. Highland Springs Resort was historically an old stagecoach stop, but today hosts a resort, restaurant, gift shops, and acres of lavender, olive trees, and livestock. Tina Kummerle, Farm Manager, explained to the students that the resort operates its farm under a no kill policy, meaning they cannot use pesticides or traps to deter pests. For the November 29th event, students built and installed several owl boxes and raptor perches to attract raptors to the area to hunt ground squirrels and other rodents. This allows the farm to control the populations of pests in their production areas naturally. The students also planted a native plant hedgerow on the property to attract pollinators, provide native habitat, and serve as a windbreak. The students will return in the spring to work on additional conservation projects on the property.
Caption: Students from Citrus Valley High School clear the land in order to plant a native plant hedgerow to attract pollinators and provide native habitat.