All Around the Watershed

Water travels many miles before it gets to our kitchen taps, and last Friday, over 60 third graders from Arroyo Elementary School in Ontario took that same journey to discover the source of their drinking water. The students’ trip to Lower San Antonio Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains was the result of a unique new partnership between the Chino Basin Water Conservation District (CBWCD), the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability (RRC), children’s author Joel Harper, and the United States Forest Service (USFS) Station 25 to encourage water and land stewardship. Our next partnership field trip will take place in spring of 2017. 

Beginning in the Inland Valley at CBWCD’s Water Conservation Campus, students learned what a watershed is through a modeling and mapping activity. Afterward, they watched “All the Way to the Ocean,” a short film by Joel Harper that shows two friends’ journey to clean up pollution in their watershed.  Next, the students took a ride into the mountains to the San Antonio Canyon, where they helped the USFS clean up the creek that runs down into the urban valley. Finally, students hiked up to a lookout point where they could view their entire watershed - both their city below and the mountains above that create our watershed boundary. Each student received a signed copy of Joel Harper’s book “All the Way to the Ocean”.

“We strive to provide meaningful and relevant learning experiences about water conservation and stewardship to students,” says CBWCD Executive Director Eunice Ulloa. “Collaborative partnerships and field trips like this build a unique connection to the place where we live, inspiring our youngest generation to be watershed stewards.” 

One of the most significant questions in Southern California today is how we can holistically manage our water quality and water supply during a period of extended drought and in a changing climate. “By engaging young people in experiences like this, we are helping cultivate a new generation of environmental stewards who are already thinking outside the box,” said Redford Conservancy Director Dr. Brinda Sarathy. “The opportunity to spend the day with such intellectually curious and environmentally passionate children was a source of hope and inspiration for everyone involved.”  

The event was partially funded by a memorial fund established by the late Pitzer College Professor, John “Jack” Sullivan. 

“Spreading the word to a group of elementary school students, especially in such a creative and fun way, means that Jack’s  mission to preserve our natural resources will be carried on,” said Sullivan’s wife, Jaqueline Sullivan.