Spring is an exciting time for our SLEWS
(Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship) Program. This month many of our SLEWS classes will be making their third field trip out to their adopted habitat restoration projects. They will discover new growth on the seedlings they planted in December. Students will see tree swallows peeking into the nest boxes they built. They will hear pollinators buzzing around the wildflowers in bloom. As they put the finishing touches on their restoration project, whether it is a farm edge hedgerow in the Capay Valley, a riparian corridor in the Delta, or a wildlife pond in the city, students express how proud they are of what they have been able to accomplish together. Accomplishments
We too are proud of this work. Not just the accomplishments on the ground, which are significant thanks to our restoration partners who incorporate SLEWS into real projects, but also the less visible changes. One student told us she felt the most valuable part of SLEWS was "learning about problems that exist in my community and that I can actually help." Empowering young people to be leaders in their communities is at the heart of our mission. This spring we will wrap up the year with 11 SLEWS classes, who each participated their own restoration project over the course of the year. But we expect to keep in touch, (some of these students will continue on in our FARMS Leadership
and Growing Green Internship
programs) and hope to hear their stories as they take these experiences with them.
In addition to working with high school students, we're now building the capacity of other organizations to implement the SLEWS program throughout California via the SLEWS Academy
. We are excited to have our 2014 cohort already implementing the SLEWS Program in Merced County with Pacheco High School in Los Banos. East Merced Resource Conservation District, with partners Audubon California, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Grasslands Water District, CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service held their third SLEWS field day on March 19 with Bowles Farming Company. East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District is making plans for their first SLEWS project this fall. And we're just about to start the 2015 training with two new organizations who will bring the program to San Bernardino and Riverside counties in So-Cal, and Tehama, Glenn and Butte counties in Northern California. Do you know someone who wants to get involved in these regions? Please get in touch with us!
Programs are running in high gear this time of year, but we also know when to stop and smell the flowers (or the food!). I hope to see you at our next Dinner on the Farm
, April 12, for a celebration of spring, and the delicious bounty of our California landscape.