The Blue-Green School Project Accomplished 2019-2021
The MERITO Foundation recruited 12, 4th – 8th grade level in service teachers (2 to 3 teachers per school across grade levels) in Ventura County to participate in the Blue-Green Schools Project 2019-2021. The Blue-Green Schools Project was funded primarily by EPA, California Coastal Conservancy, and the Channel Islands Harbor Foundation.
NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, US Fish and Wildlife, Surfrider Foundation Ventura, Ventura Water, City of Oxnard, California State Parks, and the school districts that support their teachers and students’ participation.
Blue-Green Schools Project Goals
The primary goals of this already accomplished project include:
1. To further the capacity of teachers to integrate environmental literacy in their instruction, particularly regarding water science, water conservation, storm water runoff prevention, waste reduction, composting, and recycling. Other themes were also covered related to watershed, coastal, and island ecology.
2. To increase students’ knowledge, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills regarding environmental issues through project-based learning while using local environments as the context for learning.
3. To promote behaviors beneficial to the environment among participating students by immersing them in environmental and conservation stewardship activities in their schools and at local watersheds and coastal habitats
4. To empower students to actively contribute to the mitigation of regions’ drought, flood risk, and wildfires through their own authored project proposals aimed at conserving water and reducing waste at their school campuses, and/or protect local watersheds and aquatic ecosystems.
5. To ensure implementation of the most effective proposals authored by students in 5 school campuses in Ventura County.
Implementation / Delivery Method
The project lasted 21 months (August 15, 2019 – March 31, 2021) from start to finish (including a 3 month temporary suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Teachers were required to enroll in the project, and the last 6 months focused on students’ projects implementation.
The project phases included:
Teachers receive professional development (PD) on how to instruct 10-12 lessons in MERITO Academy’s Curriculum©
In-class activities led by the trained teachers
Mentorship for students during project design by MERITO Foundation staff
1-2 student field experiences per school year led by MERITO Foundation staff
And the last six months of the project focused on MERITO Foundation assisting teachers and school administrations in implementing select student authored projects
Teachers’ training on the use of lesson plans drawn from our MERITO Academy© and other curricula of partner organizations. Trainings were held on Sept. 19 & Nov. 20, 2019 at Santa Cruz Island and Buenaventura State Parks on science content and use of curricular activities, and followed by PD Webinars in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sponsorship of students’ transportation and field instruction during environmental monitoring field experiences for the student and their families at Ventura County's watersheds, coast, and the Channel Islands during Winter 2019 to early Spring 2020 and Fall of 2021. Note: Students’ field experiences were suspended from 3/13/2020 until 8/31/2021.
Blue-Green Project- based learning Challenge. This included waste, water, and runoff assessment equipment, tutorials, worksheets, and support for students to design project proposals to reduce any of these for their school campuses, by June 2020.
Up to $3,500 per school for the implementation of the most cost-effective projects authored by students at reducing the water consumed, the waste produced, or stormwater runoff at their school campuses, and by doing so, indirectly reducing the risk of wildfires. Each of the 5 participating schools had a final project proposed, all funded and implemented by Dec. 15, 2021.
Four schools' projects focused on reducing waste (Sunkist Elementary in Port Hueneme, Montalvo Elementary city of Ventura, McKinna Elementary in Oxnard, and Berylwood Elementary in Simi Valley. Based on waste assessments and research, students proposed to include supplies such as colored-coded trash bins in cafeteria and classrooms, composting systems, water refilling stations, stainless steel water bottles, spork dispensers, recycling, and composting signage.
Parkview Elementary's project focused on preventing stormwater runoff. The project design and investment included calculating the volume of runoff, fixing old and perforated rain spouts (paid by the school), installing rain barrels, mapping existing vegetation, and designing and building a bioswale in an existing native plant garden adjacent to the street.
Note: This project required 2 to 3 teachers from the same school to join the project and work as a team over 18 months that the project lasted. The grade level of the team of teachers was from 4th – 5th grades.