Small Grant: $5,000
New Leaf Academy is an alternative diploma program at Vicente Martinez High School in Martinez Unified School District. During the 2013 – 2014 school year, with the assistance of a SFEP Small Grant, New Leaf completed three projects that collectively made up the New Leaf Watershed Science Projects; Ecoliteracy Peer Mentoring, Climate Careers, and the Community Science Workshop. Each of these projects included a New Leaf graduate that took on project coordination roles and recruited and trained high school interns under the direct supervision of a New Leaf community partner or a New Leaf teacher.
The Ecoliteracy “Eco-Lit” Peer Mentoring Project at New Leaf is a foundational, on-going project that just completed its 11th year of implementation. New Leaf high school students worked with the Eco-Lit Peer Mentoring Coordinator and teacher to design five hands-on science lessons throughout the school year for over 36 K-5 classes within Martinez Unified School District. Lesson topics were: Watershed Overview and Stewardship; Integrated Pest Management; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; Rot & Respect; Organic Gardening; and Naturalist Outdoor Education – A Day in the Life of John Muir. Close to 1200 students attending various schools received the lessons.
The Climate Careers Project was developed in partnership with the John Muir National Historic Site (JOMU). This project is designed to expose high school interns to several types of career focused activities that involve the exploration and intersections of science and outdoor careers. Internships were facilitated by the Climate Careers Intern and included phenology monitoring, cultural landscape, wildlife ecology and the educational interpretation of these concepts. This year, the Climate Careers Intern worked alongside an interpretive ranger to add the “Facilitators in Training” (FIT) program that trained high school interns to lead school groups on day long field trips through the JOMU site. As an extension to the FIT program, the Climate Careers Intern also recruited, trained and facilitated the attendance of 10 New Leaf students to Backyard Bound Youth Summit, an annual youth-developed and youth-led summit held at the Rob Hill Campground in the Golden Gate National Parks during Earth Week to explore youth leadership’s role in the conversation of the environment.
The Community Science Workshop (CSW) is a new program that offers hands-on science learning opportunities at John Muir Elementary. The Workshop consists of in-school Science Fridays and a free weekly drop-in program after school. The CSW Staff, CSW Intern Project Manager, high school assistants and volunteers all promote and interweave basic concepts of sustainability into lessons and student inquiries. The Workshop Staff, Intern and student assistants delivered eight hands-on science lessons over the course of the year to all K-5 students at the school, serving 388 elementary students in total. Topics included energy and alternative energy, geology and fossils, watershed health and stewardship, and water filtration concepts.
Photos by New Leaf Academy