Thursday, September 9, 2010

Statement from CalEPA in response to Sac. Bee article

Yesterday an article was published in the Sacramento Bee that addresses the EEI. While the salacious title “BP Aids State’s Schools Content” points to the Bee’s eagerness to find any negative, we’re proud that the facts of the article, the people quoted and even the online reader comments all point to positives of the EEI and its potential for California public schools.

During the development of the Environmental Principles and Concepts that formed the framework for the EEI Curriculum, BP responded to a mass invite to diverse perspectives for input. A BP representative attended one Technical Advisory Council meeting to discuss the EP&Cs, but did not contribute to the actual writing or editing of the EEI Curriculum.

The EEI Curriculum is designed to be without bias, and we believe that the perspectives of industries that impact our California environment and economy are critical to engage and involve. The more important message is that the EEI is ready to deliver a tested and proven curriculum to public schools and everyone can provide support for effective implementation – a win for our students, businesses, communities, and our state.

We see this article as an opportunity for people to learn more about the EEI and we have plans for marketing to broader audiences soon. If you find this article generates a contact who would like to learn about EEI implementation, please let us know.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

“Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez” - Let the Good Times Roll!

The Louisiana people know how to open their hearts and have fun! I have had the distinct pleasure of living in Louisiana; and what a time I had! The people, the food, the landscape is unique to themselves. In my travels across the United States experiencing different cultures and people, I have never encountered such a warm and inviting place. As you walk the New Orleans French Quarter, every sense comes alive! The smell and taste of excellent Cajun cuisine, the sight of art and architecture surrounds you, the feel of the items at the farmers market, and the sounds of rich jazz floating through the streets fill you up!

Louisiana people also know what it feels like to struggle and encounter hardships. Hurricane Katrina tore through the gulf-states in 2005 leaving coastal damage in its wake. Again, on April 20, 2010, 50 miles off the Southeast coast, an oilrig exploded and sank two days later, and continues to spill 5,000 barrels of oil per day damaging miles of coastal land and precious wildlife.

As a Californian, you might be asking yourself what does an oilrig spill over in the Gulf of Mexico have to do with the West Coast? In February, I spent a glorious weekend in Santa Barbara. As we were driving up Highway 1, my friends thought they saw 4 big ships out off the coast. I informed them that they were oilrigs. They were shocked at how close the rigs are to the beach. They didn’t look real, these huge hunks of metal just sitting off the beautiful coast!

Well, three Santa Barbara environmental groups have negotiated a deal with Plains Exploration & Production, a Houston based driller, to dismantle four federal jurisdiction offshore rigs so they can drill in the Santa Barbara Channel temporarily. With the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Santa Barbara deal is no longer being supported by Gov. Schwarzenegger and has become a hot topic in California. Currently, there are 20 platforms actively working in the Santa Barbara Channel.

As with everything in life, there are positives and negatives. The decision is with you to decide what side of the rig you sit, but getting involved and educating yourself is the first step in making that choice.

This is also a wonderful opportunity to dive into environmental issues, such as this one, with your students. When you have a real 'case study' unfolding, the students can better understand the various consequences, decisions, stakeholders, and environmental impacts.

Enjoy Life!

Rae Ann Jimenez

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Great Garbage Patch

Most of our waste today consists of plastic, a petroleum based material that we use for many products: plastic bag, bottles, wrappers, containers, forks, straws...etc. These items don't biodegrade or disappear once out of sight. They end up in landfills and a heap of the plastic has been collecting in what is considered the largest landfill. Though not on land the Pacific Gyre, or The Great Garbage Patch is a massive swirling wasteland twice the size of Texas off the coast of California.

As educators, we get the word out and initiate response.
Check these resources out to educate yourself and your students.

Gorilla in the Greenhouse, is a fun multimedia website that offers animated videos as a way of communicating real world environmental issues.

The California Coastal Commission has great resources for educators as well as information on the upcoming California Coastal Cleanup Day scheduled for September 25, 2010.

NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has educational resources to advance environmental literacy.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Friday, April 2, 2010


The Children & Nature Network (CNN) is an excellent source of information and research that supports the goals of the CREEC Network. A recent article cited by CNN, in IRIS, “How do Americans View Wilderness?” caught my eye. The Internet Research Information Series (IRIS) is an internet accessible science report series covering outdoor recreation statistics, wilderness research and other human dimensions and demographics research related to natural resources. This research is a collaborative effort between the USDA Forest Service’s Southern Research Station and its Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Athens, Georgia; the University of Georgia in Athens; and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee. IRIS has been doing surveys about natural resources for decades. Surveys use a cross-sectional sample of non-institutionalized residents of the US, 16 years of age and older.

Basically this survey asked respondents to assess their Wilderness Values. The results were compared in the 1999-2000 and the 2006-2007 surveys.
First, respondents were asked to rate the importance of 13 Wilderness benefits:
Protecting water quality
Knowing that future generations will have Wilderness areas
Providing recreation opportunities
Protecting wildlife habitat
Providing spiritual inspiration
Preserving natural areas for scientific study
Preserving unique wild plants and animals
Knowing that in the future I will have the option to visit a Wilderness area or primitive area of my choice
Protecting air quality
Providing income for the tourist industry
Protecting rare and endangered species
Providing scenic beauty
Just knowing that Wilderness and primitive areas exist

Secondly, respondents were asked how they felt about the amount of federal land in the Wilderness System.

Very good news came out of this latest survey.
1. Since 1999-2000 Wilderness values have stayed high (in the 70th, 80th and 90th percentiles) with residents age 16 and older. Protecting air quality continues to be top on the list of concerns, 91% in 1999 and 93% in 2007. Having options to visit wilderness areas in the future rose three percentile points from 73.2 to 76.2. Providing recreation opportunities and preserving natural areas for science had significant percentile rises.
Overall, Americans ascribed high importance to Wilderness benefits. The only category that did not show importance was providing income for the tourist industry.
2. A comparison of the urban and rural communities values “unequivocally” showed no significant difference in wilderness values.
3. Comparisons of the four primary regions of the Country were made asking the question “Do the people living in these different regions have different opinions about Wilderness values? Significant differences were found in a few categories.
a. Protecting water quality was significantly higher in the Northeast and Southern region than in the other two regions of the Midwest and West.
b. Providing scenic beauty was highest in the Southern region.
c. Having the option to visit wilderness areas in the future was higher in the Western region.
d. Providing spiritual inspiration was significantly high in the Southern region.
4. Do citizens want more Wilderness? The responses to this question showed that more than two-thirds people somewhat strongly favor more Wilderness in the home state.

In summary, indications are that over the past decade citizens continue to support Wilderness allocation, view air and water quality as the most important aspects of Wilderness, there is virtually little difference in where people live that affects Wilderness values, and in many respects the value of Wilderness has become more important or stayed the same throughout the country.

These findings bode well with environmental groups and organizations such as CREEC. Environmental Education will continue to show increasing responses from the public. Thereby continuing the cycle of education, environmental concern, and individual commitment to saving Wilderness in the United States.

Internet resources:

Written by: Kathy Havert
CREEC/Region 10 RIMS

Monday, March 15, 2010

Green School Initiative

Green School Initiative

Okay, so your school is doing great things on campus to help the environment and integrates EE into the curricula!

Well, now you can get your school certified as a Green School through the Green School Initiative! This is a partnership between the Green Schools Initiative here in California ( ) the Eco-Schools program sponsored in the United States by the National Wildlife Federation (

This means your school has taken the pledge to "go green" has formed an action team that is actively pursuing the plan. Here are the seven (7) steps to green your school:

1. Establish a green team or eco-committee
2. Adopt an environmental vision statement, green code or planet pledge
3. Conduct a school environment survey or audit
4. Create a Green School Action Plan
5. Monitor and Evaluate Progress
6. Integrate Greening into the Curriculum
7. Inform, Involve and Celebrate

The premise for greening any school is on what is called the Four Pillars. The four pillars cover everything from new construction to maintenance, food service to gardens, office supplies to classroom curricula. The Four Pillars are:

1. Strive to be Toxic Free
2. Use Resources Sustainably
3. Create a Green, Healthy Space
4. Teach, Learn, Engage

There is an online Green School Report Card Quiz and once you fill that out you will receive a score and depending on your score you will be led to links for more action ideas, tools to support your efforts and opportunities to share the story of your green school. There are Green School Profiles on the website too called the Green School Honor Roll. The website can also help your school find green products with its' Green School Buying Guide.

The Eco-Schools model identifies eight areas of primary focus a school can go green called "pathways." These are Energy, Water, Climate Change, Global Dimensions, Transportation, Schools Grounds, Consumption & Waste, Green Hour. Each pathway has curriculum resources and audits to perform.

There is also a new website put together called Cool California for the purpose of providing all Californians the the tools they need to take actions to protect the climate.. There is a Schools Toolkit that includes a campus carbon calculator, cost savings actions and climate change curriculum resources. The website is (

Any and all three of these resources will get your school started in going green. They are intended for existing schools and are not rigorous certification procedures like LEED for Schools ( or CHPS ( These two programs are primarily designed for new construction or for modernization construction projects.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Environmental Service Learning

Wondering how your students can have access to Environmental Education in their curriculum, work on CA State Standards, learn life skills and help the community?

Environmental Service Learning projects are one way you can achieve all of this! They are a fantastic way to engage your students in hands-on Environmental Education, while making your school or community a better place.

Environmental Service Learning can give students a higher sense of self-esteem and belonging in the community as they become valued participants in educational projects that provide them with the experience of conscientious environmental stewardship. Service Learning of all different kinds has been proven to lower the drop-out rates in high school. The kind of life experience Service Learning projects afford students will no doubt look great on any job application or an admissions application to a University or other school.

Students of all ages can participate in Environmental Service Learning projects that will impact the way they think about the Earth, their bioregion, their local community, and their peers. Students reflections on their actions and impact can be an interesting and powerful motivational tool to instigate many positive changes in the world. Preschool and Elementary aged students can easily do projects with the guidance of a teacher. Secondary students can share more of their leadership skills and spearhead their own projects with a bit of mentoring from a teacher or other community partners. As long as a measurable learning outcome is achieved, any good community service can be turned into a great Service Learning project.

In Region 10, we offer a couple great opportunities for Students grades 6-12 called the Desert Environmental Youth Experience (EYE) for Leaders program and the Environmental Youth Leadership Conference (EYLC). For both programs, student teams identify a problem either on campus or in their community that they would like to address. Then through teamwork, creative problem solving and community partnerships, students create an Environmental Service Learning project of their choice that together they work on and implement throughout the year.

The themes for the Desert EYE are Water Conservation, Energy Conservation and Environmental Stewardship. In years past students have done waste audits on campuses, established recycling programs and educated other students on the ins and outs of recycling and waste management as they transformed their campuses into conservation centers, reducing their carbon footprint. One team raised enough money in two years through recycling to put in electricity and a clean water system into a school in Uganda, provide school supplies for 50 orphans and medical supplies for a nearby remote village. More locally, students can participate in restoration projects in wild places, eradicating non-native plants competing for resources. School gardens are an excellent way to beautify the school while creating an outdoor living laboratory in which to approach all the educational disciplines. Students can experience life science first hand composting and cultivating plants, both edible and ornamental. Gardens create a habitat for native wildlife and an environment in which to work on language arts skills in journaling and do math calculations either in establishing the garden or charting growth of plants.

Ultimately, students can take what they have learned through the process of doing their project and their reflections on the experience, and then share that information with others in creative ways. A team may create a skit or rap to take on tour and share with other local students. Or perhaps a team might create a short film or PSA (Public Service Announcement) or use other multimedia arts to display their message, raising consciousness in the community as they foster environmental awareness through their words and actions.

“America’s young people – from kindergartners to college students – have the desire, energy and ability to make a real difference in their communities. Service-learning offers a unique opportunity for them to get involved in a tangible way by integrating community service projects with classroom learning. Service-learning engages students in the educational process, using what they learn in the classroom to solve real-life problems. Students not only learn about democracy and citizenship, they become actively contributing citizens and community members through the service they perform.”
-Learn and Serve America

Planet Earth is one thing we all share in common. Some say it takes a village to raise a child. Perhaps it will be our children who stand up as young leaders and teach our villages to take better care of our environment, so we may all continue to enjoy good health and the great diversity and beauty of nature.

CA Dept. of Ed. Service-Learning page:
Disney Planet Challenge for 4-6th grades:
Learn & Serve America:
Region 10’s Program for 6-12th grades:
Youth Service California:

~Jen Futterman
Region 10 RIMS Desert Communities Coordinator

Monday, February 15, 2010

California's Environmental Legacy

From coastal erosion to invasive plants to disappearing species, it’s easy for me to conjure up images of environmental change in California. But it’s not often that I think about that change in the context of deep time, or geologic time. While human history is but a hair on the geologic time clock, our species has been remarkably successful at rapidly transforming our environment.

An exciting new project explores environmental change in California over the past two billion years, as well as the fundamental nature of our relationship to that change – both presently and into the future. The California Environmental Legacy Project is a multi-institutional, multi-platform endeavor bringing together a wide range of scientists, educators, and media professionals to promote public understanding about environmental change in California and our place in this changing world.

Humboldt State University and Sacramento State are founding partners of the Legacy Project, which recently received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to produce several key pieces intended to engage Californians in an exploration of environmental change. The centerpiece is a four-episode PBS documentary (for national broadcast in 2012) which will take viewers on a two billion year journey through our state and into a possible future landscape.

A second component, the Changing Places Initiative, will bring this exploration to five regions in the state. Short films, podcasts, and other media are in production for distribution in our parks, museums, and science centers. These regions include:
- Point Reyes Peninsula
- Los Angeles Basin/Baldwin Hills
- Anza Borrego Desert
- Redwood Forests
- Lassen Volcano

And attention teachers… there’s a piece of this project intended just for you and your students’ use. The online Education Portal will engage users with opportunities for streaming media and accessing materials and resources. This will be a place to share ideas and continue the discussion with students and teachers from across the state. Lastly, the K-12 school programs will provide teachers with professional options to enhance learning experiences for their students.

The Legacy Project will help make understanding California’s changing environment accessible, digestible, and maybe most importantly, meaningful for a wide range of audiences, including television viewers, students, park visitors, and online users. Keep an eye out as phases of this exciting project are released over the next two years.

Learn more about the Legacy Project at

Monday, February 1, 2010

Learning About Redwoods

Redwood trees are one of the most iconic symbols of California. Towering Coast Redwoods grow to be the tallest trees in the world, and Giant Sequoias of the Sierra Nevada are the most massive. They live longer than almost any other organisms on earth. Redwoods grow in forest communities that instill feelings of awe and inspiration to people who make their pilgrimage from all across the globe to see them. Yet during the late 1800s and early 1900s these forests were being heavily logged and in great danger of being destroyed forever. Today only a very small percentage of the original “first growth” coast redwood forest remains. Although many concerned people and organizations have worked to save these world treasures, the Save-the-Redwoods League was — and still is — a leader in efforts to protect and restore these forests.

The Save-the-Redwoods League was formed in 1918 in response to the uncontrolled logging of the coastal redwoods. Since that time the League has worked to purchase 181,000 acres of redwood forest to be preserved in 59 parks and preserves. They have been a key player in the restoration of damaged redwood forests, and provide grants to fund redwood research.
In addition to this, the Save-the-Redwoods League works to develop high quality educational resources for teachers and environmental education providers. All of the resources are free and fully accessible from their website: Among these resources are:
• Redwood Education grants, available in April, due in June. 230 grants have been given since 2000.
• The Redwood Teacher Tool Kit – includes downloadable fact sheets, reading lists, and information pages.
• Redwood Ed – a guide to Coast Redwoods, with downloadable chapters of background information, field trip ideas, activities, and more.
• The Redwood Transect Activity – an online interactive game for children.
• More resources are coming soon that will feature the Giant Sequoias.

I hope you take a few minutes to visit the website and enjoy all these available resources. Better yet, I hope you can visit a redwood tree or forest in the near future and experience their beauty and serenity for yourself!

-Wendy Harrison, CREEC Coordinator Region 6

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nearby Nature- Environmental Education can be Easy

I was recently asked to create a succinct description of what Environmental Education is for my fiscal agent’s website. I looked to the “classic” UNEP 7 principles of EE and ended up with this:

“EE focuses on interactions within and among natural, built, and social environments. EE aims to develop an individual's understanding, skills and the feelings of empowerment that are necessary for both positive behavior towards the biophysical and social environment in everyday living, and for active participation in group efforts to find the optimal solutions for environmental problems.EE is interdisciplinary, and is particularly effective when direct experiential learning is utilized.”

In looking at my description, I realized that it makes EE seem complicated, cumbersome, and overwhelming—all things that are extremely unattractive to most educators. To assuage my conscience for having published something that may actually turn some people off to EE, I wanted to focus on a few ideas and programs that let you utilize “nearby nature” for simple EE experiences.

· The Children and Nature Network was created to encourage and support the people and organizations working worldwide to reconnect children with nature. C&NN provides access to the latest news and research in the field and a peer-to-peer network of researchers and individuals, educators and organizations dedicated to children's health and well-being. Find information on forming family nature clubs, getting involved in your local community, and a new program called “natural teacher.”

The following two examples are specific to the San Diego region, but no matter where you live you can find nearby nature.

· San Diego Canyonlands has a mission to promote, protect and restore the natural habitats in San Diego County canyons and creeks by fostering education and ongoing community involvement in stewardship and advocacy. They are a clearinghouse of canyon “friends” groups, so if your family wants to do a service activity while learning about the local environment, they can help you to connect to a nearby canyon. They can also help school sites get started on projects in nearby canyons and offer service learning credit for participation in some events.

· Visit your local parks and recreation website. The City of San Diego’s site can help you find a nearby natural area to visit.

So take the first small step toward environmental education experiences for your students, your family, and your community today. Just get outside!

--Adrienne Marriott, Coordinator

CREEC Region9a (San Diego and Imperial Counties)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We’re WILD about new early childhood environmental education curriculum, by Deb Bruns

We’re WILD about new early childhood environmental education curriculum

Last month I had the pleasure of joining with 25 environmental educators and early childhood educators from across California to learn firsthand about Growing Up WILD – the latest addition to the Project WILD family of high quality environmental education programs. This one is geared to the 3 -7 year old crowd, building on that natural sense of wonder to connect kids to the world around them while developing important social and academic skills.

The colorful, 11 x 17, eye-catching guide includes 27 nature based activities with kid-friendly themes like “Bird Beak Buffet,” “Spider Web Wonders,” and “Lunch for a Bear.” In the December workshop we tried out “Wiggling Worms.” We each had our own worm to watch and even got down on the floor and tried to move like the worms we had just observed. Thankfully, the superintendent didn’t wander by the workshop at that particular moment! Later, we went outside to look for signs of “Who Lives in a Tree” and collect materials for an art project.

Like all of the materials from the Council on Environmental Education, the guide defines “user-friendly.” A Quick Facts box on each page includes the basic background information on the topic for the teacher. Educators can choose from a myriad of activities to fill a pre-schooler’s day: songs set to familiar tunes, art and craft projects, movement, math, indoor and outdoor games, science explorations and even a related (and mostly healthy) snack. In “Fishing Fun,” students use pretzel stick rods with cream cheese bait to “catch” fish crackers.

Need more? Each activity page also includes a list of related fiction and non-fiction books. Home Connections – easily copied pages provided in English and Spanish – encourage families to explore the natural world together with simple activities such as finding an ant colony, looking for birds in the neighborhood or visiting a local pet store to observe the fish. Journal prompts and discussion starter questions are provided for parents which will mostly likely result in a little adult education as well.

I can’t wait to share Growing Up WILD with our Head Start teachers and the local child care planning council. I’m also going to work with the community colleges in the area and our own high school ROP Careers with Children teacher to get the guide to as many early childhood educators as possible. They will be happy to know that each activity page notes correlations to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Standards and the Head Start Domains

Growing Up WILD is available free to any early childhood educator who attends a workshop. Now that there are trained workshop facilitators throughout California there is sure to be a workshop near you. Contact your CREEC Coordinator or California’s Project WILD Coordinator, Betsy Magladry, to find out about a workshop or facilitator in your area. For more information on the guide (including a look at a sample activity page), visit