Waterkeeper believes public outreach and education is an essential part of our long-term watershed protection efforts. As a result, we maintain two ongoing, and highly successful high school environmental education programs: the Watershed Career Network and River KATS: Kid Activism Together with Science. Respectively, the programs promote environmental/science career development and hands-on lessons in water quality issues and watershed protection. Through past work, we have found students consistently lack awareness on the pure existence of their local waterways. There also seems to be a void in understanding basic connections in water quality issues; many do not realize how urban runoff travels to storm drains which lead to rivers, and eventually downstream to our oceans. Furthermore, as local schools face budget cuts, funds for schools have been shifted away from excursions, leaving school districts unable to fund any field trips. Waterkeeper works to fill this opportunity through River KATS by reestablishing valuable field trip opportunities that allow students the ability to use the surrounding watershed as a living laboratory.
Waterkeeper established the Watershed Career Network to complement River KATS. We noticed many students were interested in working in the water quality and environmental fields, but were unaware of the various career choices. Therefore, Waterkeeper coordinates in-class presentations with local professionals working in the environmental field (examples include wildlife biologists, green building specialists, environmental lawyers, or wastewater treatment engineers) with high school science and AVID classes . The development of the Watershed Career Network is timely as our communities face some of the most significant environmental challenges in state history. In light of these challenges, there is a growing demand for skilled individuals to renovate our aging water system and address the interconnected environmental issues. Our program will help foster the next generation of environmental professionals.
Waterkeeper also helps raise awareness in the community about water quality issues by engaging local volunteers in clean-up events. These community events provide a hands-on opportunity for residents of all ages, ethnicities and economic levels to learn about the existence of local waterways, understand the connections between individual actions and water pollution, and be motivated to make a positive change in their own community. Our efforts result in immediate visible improvement in the watershed and improvement in water quality, as well as increased support and interest in the long-term protection of our waterways and neighborhoods. Check out our local events calendar for any upcoming events!
RiverKATS is made possible in part by grants from Southern California Edison, the S.L. Gimbel Foundation Advised Fund at The Community Foundation Serving the Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino and 3M Community Giving.
For more information about our educational programs, please contact Programs Director, Megan Brousseau, at (951) 530-8823 .