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South Lake Tahoe| South Lake Tahoe
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South Lake Tahoe| South Lake Tahoe


Volunteer educators from South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition, (STEEC), engaged fourth- and third-graders from four elementary schools in place based environmental education. Students were led around the Tallac Historic site by educators. They learned about local history, watersheds fire resilience, trees, and interacted with the environment at each station.

Kelsey Carapia of the U.S. Forest Service welcomed excited students as she unboarded their buses each morning at Tallac Historic Site. The students were able, early in the season to have the site to themselves. They were eager to explore and learn and moved through several stations in small groups.

Lauren Benefield, South Tahoe Public Utility District (STPUD), spoke to students about watersheds. Students were then asked to design a lakefront property. Students were given items to represent potential pollutants on their property. They passed the items down the line and put them in a bucket that represented the lake. Students considered how pollution of the watershed and the lake are accumulated by everyone’s actions and brainstormed ways to help preserve their environment.

Students had the opportunity to learn about Washoe history while also learning how native plants are identified. They were rotated to the Washoe Tending/Grounding Garden station. After discussing the importance plant identification, students began to spread out throughout the garden to practice creating and identifying botanical drawings of native plants.

I want more information about plant identification! One third-grader stopped and reflected, clutching a detailed drawing, which he had drawn of the Sierra Currant. He had correctly identified the type of leaf margins, and also noted down the ways the Washoe used the plant.

Other stations covered fire resilience, tree biology, systems, historical and current transit, and the aquatic foods web. Representatives from local conservation groups engaged students at each station and shared their unique perspectives. This week’s events were organized by STPUD, STPUD, the City and the Sierra Nevada Alliance, TRPA/TERC, the League of Tahoe RCD, UC Master Gardeners, and TRPA/TERC.

The South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition is an alliance of more than 25 local agencies that work together to bring environmental education resources into the Lake Tahoe Basin. Since 2008, STEEC has partnered up with the Lake Tahoe Unified Schools District to provide experiential learning in outdoor settings.

Jocelyn Valencia, a STPUDs CivicSpark Fellow, said that the STEEC event provided a great opportunity to teach the youth of Tahoe about the history and how it will be impacted in the future.

The Coalition offers educational programs for students of all ages and throughout the year. Students learn to use the environment they are learning in a tangible way that allows them to connect with what they have learned. In winter, students have the chance to explore Heavenly Mountain Resort. STEEC will continue to take students to the lake throughout June to help them learn about their natural environment and be immersed in it.

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