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New Partnership Launches Water Literacy Project in Stanislaus County

Tuolumne River Trust press release
Contact: Meg Gonzalez, 209-236-0330
November 9, 2015

What: Stanislaus County is ground-zero for water issues of statewide and national importance for agriculture, the environment and the economy yet most County youth have little to no knowledge about the Tuolumne River, or about local careers and jobs in water-related fields. As a result, our County’s young people are not pursuing degrees in these fields and are not competitive candidates for such jobs, the demand for which continues to grow and take on greater importance.

With the current record-breaking drought in California and the water management issues we face, the Tuolumne River Trust – in partnership with other local non-profits, schools, County agencies and with financial support from the US Environmental Protection Agency - are piloting a first of its kind, K-12 water literacy program (Water Ways) in Hughson starting Spring 2016. Meg Gonzalez, Education Director for the Tuolumne River Trust and project lead says, “The goal of Water Ways is to ensure we have water literate youth in Stanislaus County who are prepared to take on the challenges and fill the jobs that exist in the management of our local water resources. We will do this by bringing together a diverse set of community partners to create a K-12 program combining environmental science and locally relevant environmental issues related to water at every stage of our students’ learning.”

Over the course of two years, local environmental educators, experts in water-related fields, and schools in the Hughson Unified School District will collaborate to provide over 2,000 students with two consecutive years of grade-appropriate lessons, relevant career exploration opportunities and hands on, experiential learning to empower youth to act as future stewards of the river and environment. Results will help inform the development of a water literacy model that can be replicated in other school districts.

Who: Project partners include: Tuolumne River Trust, Great Valley Museum, Foothill Horizon Outdoor School, National Ag Science Center, East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District, Stanislaus County Office of Education, UC Cooperative Extension, River Partners and Hughson Unified School District. Professionals in local water-related fields will be recruited as Field Specialists to provide career exploration opportunities.