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Watershed Re-Boxed

The Coyote Creek has persisted in the Bay Area for thousands of years. Enduring droughts, diversions and floods throughout its existence. Despite this, it is still here and is still home to thousands of plants and animals. Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful (KCCB) is not nearly as old as the creek itself, but we have shown a similar resilience throughout the years. Our education program, is a perfect example of this.

Coyote Creek in winter.
Coyote Creek at Hellyer County Park in winter.

The program, also known as Watershed-In-A-Box (WIAB), was the result of many organizations working together to teach students of the importance of the Coyote Creek watershed. Just prior to the universal Covid-19 lockdown, we had scheduled our first pilot programs and were eager to see the program take flight. Understandably, we had to cancel and delay the debut of a program we were truly excited about.

After some time and deliberation, we resolved to create virtual versions of all of our presentations. The original purpose of this program was to connect students to the Coyote Creek using hands-on experiences so we had to grapple with the questions “How can we still make this a fun and meaningful experience in a digital classroom?” and “How can it be hands-on if we can’t offer supplies and materials to the students?”

Olinder School students learning about the Coyote Creek
Virtual presentation of "Be Prepared: Flood Preparation"

In the end we created a program that embraced the strengths of the virtual platforms and the general tech savviness of our students. We offered many of these programs through the duration of lockdown and beyond. Teachers were thankful to have learning opportunities, moments of reprieve and to see their students get excited for a guest presenter.

As time passed and school visitor restrictions were lifted, we realized that it was time to dust off the original program we had been so excited for. Since that time, we have not only had several in-person classroom visits but field trips as well. The program has changed and expanded in ways that we hadn’t even planned on. Additionally, through the success of the program, and previous connections, the application rate for program is higher than ever.

Education Coordinator doing an in person presentation of "There Is No Away: Trash Decomposition"
Education Coordinator Colter Cook giving an in-person presentation of "There Is No Away: Trash Decomposition"

Through a partnership with Santa Clara County Parks our field trips to Hellyer County Parkk have proven to be an important way of connecting students with the creek. As part of our program we have students engage in educational activities, preform a litter cleanup, and sort their trash to discover the most commonly littered items. Through these activities students and parents get to really know the creek that is right in their backyards.

KCCB Executive Director Deb Kramer teaches Trash Decomposition at Hellyer County Park

The virtual programs were a great tool for reaching students stuck at home. As the in-person programs grow we will not forget our foray into the digital classroom. Rather it has become a way to expand our reach within the Coyote Creek Watershed.

Students sorting trash after their litter cleanup.

If in the future we have to stop programs all together (a drought), pivot to a new way of doing things (a diversion), or taking on more programs than we know what to do with (a flood), we will persist just as Coyote Creek has always done.

Students draw the journey of water in the activity "Where Does My Water Go" (Slideshow)

If you want to learn more check out my previous blog about this journey here.


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