Each day in the classroom, students take in lots of information as part of the learning process. Oftentimes, though, kids need experiences outside school walls in order to cement that knowledge.
Napa County Resource Conservation District (RCD)--an organization whose mission is to promote responsible watershed management--uses this learning principle with its LandSmart for Kids program.
RCD designed LandSmart with twin goals in mind: educating young people about our local environment, and encouraging conservation efforts. To that end, LandSmart combines classroom presentations with outdoor restoration projects that underscore the value of stewardship, while augmenting the state-approved curriculum already being used by school teachers.
Nearly 1,000 k-12 students around the Valley participate each year, and topics addressed include: local agriculture and native wildlife; water quality and irrigation; and, soil erosion control.
Each topic is introduced in the classroom, and is followed by two to five field days, in which RCD staff and local agriculture professionals--who volunteer their time--co-lead hands-on projects.
For example, elementary and middle school students study habitat restoration and water conservation, and then plant acorn trees and monitor ecology in the Napa River.
LandSmart lessons for high schoolers illustrate the science and math theories found in textbooks. Then, out in the field under the direction of a viticulturist, teens use their math skills to figure out where fruit trees will go, and then plant the stock, which provides the vines with a natural barrier from pests.
RCD is a district that was established by local government to help landowners use sustainable practices. While RCD receives some property tax revenue, the organization has an independent Board of Directors that governs its finances and programs and must fundraise in order to offer education services like LandSmart.
RCD's budget for LandSmart is $30,000 a year and includes: staff time; bus transportation for students; and, pay for substitute teachers, so regular teachers are able to accompany their classes on field days.
Grants from state and local conservation initiatives, as well as donations from participating wineries, cover two-thirds of the budget; RCD needs to raise the remaining $10,000.
Your support will help local youth appreciate the extraordinary natural surroundings in which they live.
Napa County Resource Conservation District
1303 Jefferson Street, Suite 500B
Napa, CA 94559
Contact: Leigh Sharp, Executive Director