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Bringing Focus to Watersheds in an Uncertain Time

Watershed in a Box (WIAB) is a project that connects K-8 students in local public schools to the natural environment that surrounds them in their community through in-classroom and after school programs focusing on environmental and watershed education, with an emphasis on the Coyote Watershed. It is a project that stemmed from a partnership with Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful (KCCB) and Valley Water that started nearly two years ago in the Fall of 2018 with a focus on bringing watershed, water conservation, and safety education to the local community surrounding Coyote Creek. An additional partnership was formed with SJSU Assistant Professor Constanza Rampini from the Environmental Studies department and students from her Water Policy in the Western U.S. class to help lay the foundation for what WIAB has become today.

This project has come a long way since the beginning with dozens of updates and revisions to create concise and cohesive lesson plans that are engaging and fun for K-8 students. The biggest challenge with this project was to make sure that the lesson plan content and activities were understandable and relatable for the students. But with constant work and help from our partners, colleagues and others WIAB is now complete and ready for a new chapter and a new group of enthusiastic students to teach it too.

Watershed in a Box is vital project within CommUniverCity, and is an important teaching tool for students, especially in these times of uncertainty. And while we hear about improved air quality from the lack of vehicles on the road due to the shelter in place order and may even notice that the sky is clearer, other serious environmental issues still persist. Littering of PPE in our communities has become a major issue since the recommendations by health officials to wear it. Littering of PPE is an intentional act that creates serious human health hazards and will have dangerous impact on our watersheds, affecting water quality in riparian and marine ecosystems as well as wildlife.

Taking care of our environment and teaching others to do the same should not fall by the way side. Every effort should be made to do the right thing for our environment, not just during these times of uncertainty, but all the time. Walking that extra 10 or 20 feet to a trash receptacle or throwing it away when you get home is the right thing to do. Since its inception WIAB has strived to teach k-8 students not only about the environment but to take responsibility for how they treat it and to do the right thing.

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