Zoe Kusnick has a special offer for STN
Volunteer educators from South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition engaged fourth and third graders in place-based environmental education this week. Students were led around the Tallac Historic site by educators. They learned about local history, fire resilience and watersheds and interacted with their environment at each station.
Kelsey Carapia, U.S. Forest Service, greeted students as they boarded their buses at the Tallac Historic Site each morning. The students were able to explore the site in small groups, which was a blessing early in the season.
Lauren Benefield, South Tahoe Public Utility District (STPUD), spoke to students about watersheds. Students then participated in an activity that involved them designing a lakefront property. Students were given items to represent potential pollutants on their property. They passed the items down the line to 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 spread across the garden to practice creating and identifying botanical drawings of native plants.
I want to learn how to identify more plants! One third-grader stopped and reflected, holding in his hand a detailed sketch of the Sierra Currant. He had correctly labeled its type of leaf margins, and noted down the different uses that the Washoe made of this plant.
Other stations offered lessons on fire resilience and tree biology and systems, historical transit and the aquatic food 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 and UC Master Gardeners.
The South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition consists of over 25 local agencies working together towards the common goal of bringing environmental education resources in 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 to students of all ages, and in all seasons. The Coalition’s programs teach students how to use the environment around them. This gives them tangible experiences that help them connect with what they are learning. Students have the opportunity to climb Heavenly Mountain Resort in the winter. STEEC will continue to take students around the lake in June to allow them to explore their natural environment.