River Project Meeting # 2 4.29.13


This week we held a second great meeting on the developing River Project. Lynn R. from the Watershed Coalition of Ventura County was our guest partner and Mike Vollmert, our Director of Technology and fellow science and learning enthusiast were in attendance. Once again, I learned alot and it was a great and connected conversation.

The Watershed Coalition of Ventura County (WCVC) developed in 2002 and then grew again in 2006 and they connect people working on the Santa Clara, Ventura, and Calleguas watersheds.

Prop 50 and later prop 84 provided tax payer monies to work on our local water systems. The work is an Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) and they plan and do projects that affect: environment, recreation, flood protection, water supply, and water management.

We talked about a project, the natural flood plains project and also Army Core of Engineers work on feasibility studies.

I learned about two BIG ISSUES people are working on; Salt in the water and Invasive species of plants.

I learned that the Nature Conservancy has funded projects, as well as UCSB folks from the Marine Science institute to try to remove invasive plants such as arundo donax, a reed/plant from Spain that made its way here and has the habit of choking out other native plants and drinking too much water.

Mike Vollmert updated Lynn and I on a Rio project we have partnering with the US Fish and Wildlife group to restore some areas of our campuses to native plants. I look forward to that project moving forward.

I also learned that our local group was honored by the local American Public works chapter for its environmental projects. I learned that we have a great history of coming together here to solve problems and to see each others perspectives in order to find solutions that work for everyone and the community. 

I learned that or farmers in the area are voluntarily studying the salt in the water problem and that they have a long history of being good citizens of our community.

I look forward to starting some river walks and river talks and getting students and teachers engaged in learning about and from the river and all the many established networks of citizens and organizations that are deeply connected to the Santa Clara watershed…

I know that there is much more that I don’t know about the River than what I do know and I would guess this is true for many people so I hope the River Project can be a contribution our local schools make to not only educating our youth but also educating our community.

River Project Meeting # 1 4.26.13

On Friday, 4.26.13 we had our first meeting/talk with partners on our developing River project. It was great to meet and talk with Mike and Janis who are two local citizens who have been active in the community for years and who work on environmental issues related to water. I learned alot from the meeting. We also had local educator Linda B. at the meeting who I have worked with over the years as she has done great work in science education including work on the foxes of the channel islands.

Jeff Turner, our assistant superintendent was also in attendance and he revealed that he is exploring the Santa Clara river in the Fillmore area as well as doing a river restoration project with his family on property they have in Idaho.

We talked a little bit about the Freeman Diversion project in Saticoy.

I also learned that the Santa Clara River has carried vast amounts of minerals from the mountains to our plain making our farmlands some of the richest in the world. Good soils make good farms.

I learned a little about our underground water source, the Fox Canyon Aquifer.

I learned that local farmers use alot of the river water to grow our crops.

I learned that here in the Oxnard area we use about 50% river water/aquiferwater and 50% state water for our various uses

I talked about using the River project to allow and encourage our students to become learners, teachers, and stewards as they next generation of water managers.

I also learned that the Santa Clara River brings the sands to the sea and that this watershed system is part of the Santa Barbara Channel system.

No sand.. no surf.. so probably surfers have an interest in this system.

I learned that we have rich history of working well together, farmers, citizens, governments and this inspires me to see how we can do the same in our educational systems.

I learned that water law in California incorporates two major themes; 1st time use and best use. I love the law and how language and words help guide our human endeavors through a lens of justice and fairness.

I thank all who attended and I can’t wait until teachers and students get a chance to walk on the river and talk with these deeply committed and deeply interesting  people about the most amazing literal and metaphoric topic I can think of… that also happens to be the namesake of our school District;    Rio     the River.

The River Project is a long term initiative engaging the Rio School District and multiple partners focused on collaborations among students, educators, and experts in a variety of fields to map, document, and come to know the River in our backyard (the District’s name sake) the Santa Clara River.

We envision an initiating process in which students, teachers, and experts take walking trips at local sites on the River and begin to map, document, video, and know the river in its many aspects including; environmental, scientific, historical, governmental, economic, social, cultural, and artistic.

The project has its seeds in developing discussions with the Nature Conservancy, the City of Oxnard, and a variety of other interested groups and individuals.

We see the river as a physical location, a metaphor, and fountain of educational opportunities for students, teachers and the community at large. Combining walks, talks, and video we imagine a mapping and digital documenting process that draws learners together of all ages to know the river from its mouth at the sea through its path in Ventura County.

We invite all interested partners to join us on this river journey. Please email us at mvollmert@rioschools.org