Student & Landowner Educational & Watershed Stewardship Program (2016-2017 SLEWS)
Summary: Each year, IERCD connects landowners and high school students together through a conservation and education program called SLEWS. Students have the opportunity to actively participate in the conservation process by performing on-the-ground field work during several site visits over the course of a school year. Local landowners in turn, benefit from the conservation efforts and provide a valuable opportunity to help educate young people about natural resources. This year, students from two different high schools participated in the following projects:
Citrus Valley High School at Highland Springs Resort
Students from Citrus Valley High School visited Highland Springs twice to assist with various restoration projects. In the Fall students participated in the installation of a native plant hedgerow as well as the construction on owl boxes and raptor perches to help naturally control the rodent populations on the site. In the Spring, students returned to assist with the restoration of a 1 acre seeding effort following a 2016 fire event that came through part of the large property. Prior to the fire, the site was overtaken by a invasive grass, (Bromus diandrus), which out-competes native vegetation and provides little to no wildlife habitat. We were able to take advantage of the fire that swept through by seeding with native plants in an attempt to compete with the invasive grass seed still in the soil. Students also provided support with vegetation monitoring as part of our ongoing monitoring for native vegetation establishment at this site.
Rialto High School at Huerta del Valle Community Garden
Huerta del Valle (HdV) is a 501c3 community garden and urban farm that works to ensure all members of the community have access to organic, local, affordable produce. In the 2016-2017 school year, students visited the site twice to learn about sustainable agriculture, composting, and tree planting and care. In the Fall, students visited the site to assist with HdV's composting operation and learn about food waste as well as to build a water catchment system for water conservation. They also participated in hands on soil sampling and soil pH tests, looking at the difference between high quality compost, garden soil, and compacted pathway soil. In the Spring, students returned to plant fruit trees and learn about proper tree planting and pruning. The also worked alongside UC Riverside entomology students to perform an insect survey and study the biodiversity found on an organic urban farm.
Outcome: Approximately 30 Citrus Valley High School and 20 Rialto High School students participated in SLEWS during the 2016-17 year resulting in hands on learning for these students. Additionally, students restored approximately 2 acres of habitat at Highland Springs, planted 15 fruit trees, and built a water catchment system for HdV.
Partners: Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Santa Ana Watershed Association (SAWA), UC Riverside Entomology Department, Dave Wilson Nursery, Citrus Valley High School, & Rialto High School.
Interested in learning more about this program? Click here.