Narrated entirely by local high school students, the Watershed Report is an award winning series of short video reports on positive sustainability trends in the 13 school districts and 27 cities of the greater Lake Washington Watershed. Updated every year, the Watershed Report is like a collaborative report card with our local government partners and the nearly 2 million residents who share the same watershed address.
Highlights from Pilot Year
The Watershed Report integrates Friends of the Cedar River Watershed’s fourteen-year history of successful project management while significantly amplifying our reach through TV, the internet, the classroom and student-led presentations to local decision-making bodies. The pilot for the 2009 Watershed Report received a private screening before 150 community leaders at the Flagship REI Store on June 29, 2010. On August 17 of that same summer, members of our student team traveled to Ecotrust headquarters in Portland, Oregon, to receive an award for watershed films sponsored by the Whole Watershed Restoration Initiative. The Watershed Report is featured each year on 19 public access channels.
Measuring sustainable progress and inspiring individuals to do their daily part to take care of the watershed is important because the Cedar River Lake Washington Watershed is the most densely populated watershed in Puget Sound. It is important for us to lead in re-framing the narrative of how we prosper as a region and to share useful tools to the next generation of voters and consumers. Three new state standards for Environmental and Sustainability Education serve as backbone of our strategy.
Teachers in all 13 school districts within the footprint of our watershed can request a DVD of the Watershed Report or view it online, see above. Many teachers, especially those teaching science and social studies in grades 5-12 are incorporating segments of the video series in their curriculum. We invite everyone to email us with a note about how you are using the annually updated Watershed Report as a science-based, data-driven resource in your classroom.
High school students from all 13 school districts are encouraged to apply for the Watershed Report Leadership Team. Students are often recruited through workshops, demonstration seminars and other public speaking engagements. Twenty or more sustainability seminars are delivered each year reaching over 1,000 students. Five or more demonstration rain gardens are installed on school campuses each year, along with an in classroom sustainability teaching unit reaching 1,000 more. From these experiences, highly motivated, self-directed students apply to join the Watershed Report Leadership Team. Selected leaders receive up to nine full days of training each summer at our annual “Watershed College” and additional coaching throughout the year on stewardship project management, policy analysis, public speaking, film making and social media marketing.
Developing Practical and Timely Curriculum Tools
Currently we are developing the Watershed Address Community Curriculum to engage multiple school districts in long-term learning partnerships with local governments. Rather than relying on textbooks, the content of which is generalized, seldom localized and outdated as soon as it's printed, the Community Curriculum uses real-time sustainability data trends gleaned from the performance measures and annual reports of local government. It uses authentic assessments measured against community needs rather than pencil and paper tests. This process will necessitate the evolution of new policies in the learning exchange between schools, local governments and the community they share.
We expect to initiate this program with a coalition of 3-5 school districts, extending, in time, to all 13 school districts within the footprint of our watershed address.
The Community Curriculum is a transformational approach to teaching and learning through which all students can be deeply engaged in the science and civics of their own community. We believe that place-based learning, systems thinking and community problem solving are crucial skills to help all students regain their passion for a way of learning that makes sense because it makes a difference. Taking a long view, we believe that the school of the future will necessarily shift towards a community-based curriculum; that knowing how to solve community problems will become more important than knowing standardized content, and that community sustainability will become the metric for authentic assessment. Rather than assigning grades we will ask a single rigorous question, “Are we effective in defining and solving important issues that directly benefit the health, wealth, and sustainability of our community?”
In order to broadcast sustainability policy trends in our watershed, it is essential for students to have hands on experience improving the health of our local environment through habitat restoration projects. Through the Watershed Report Program, students get support for senior projects, district coordinators get help in designing service learning opportunities for small or large groups of students, and classroom teachers or the Green Teams at a given school can work with our team to establish a series of restoration projects, or a Legacy Project, as a long term field experience or outdoor classroom.
Stormwater Pollution Solutions
Through our Stormwater Pollution Solutions Program student teams learn about water pollution issues through installing a garden designs that filters the pollution from our homes and roads out of the water that flows to Puget Sound. By constructing demonstration rain gardens on school property and teachers receive expert help on curriculum integration through the Stormwater Systems Thinking Curriculum. The stormwater unit engages students in systems thinking and community problem solving while learning about stormwater pollution. Within the theme “Puget Sound Starts Here,” the Stormwater Systems Thinking Curriculum is custom designed to be grade-level appropriate, 2-6 weeks in duration, and based on the shared learning experience of building a demonstration rain garden on school property.
Neighborhood Rain Garden Workshops are a natural extension of the Stormwater System Thinking Curriculum and typically follow the installation of a demonstration rain garden at a neighborhood school. The purpose is to educate and empower parents, neighbors and other local property owners to take action on their own properties to help solve the stormwater pollution challenge. For the Neighborhood Rain Garden Workshops we train leadership students to be co-presenters, promoting the two-hour evening event through the PTA’s of elementary feeder schools and a strategic coalition of community groups plus the city and county.
Under the direction of Peter Donaldson, student leaders in grades 9-12 collaborate with our Mentors Group to produce a series of short video reports that track sustainability trends across multiple sectors within the geographic template of the Cedar River / Lake Washington Watershed. These sectors include school districts, city government, business development and habitat restoration efforts.
Accurate, data-driven messages are culled from the annual reports of city governments, school districts and agencies, supplemented with targeted surveys and interviews with key personnel.
Updated annually, the Watershed Report is broken into short segments suitable for school seminars, public meetings, TV and the web.
Well informed youth are the only narrators. There are no expert interviews or adult speakers. The style is charming, fast paced and informative. Students work with professionals to research the data, analyze trends and narrate the message.
Only positive trends and leading edge efforts are featured, generating a gentle competition among peers in local government, schools and businesses. We believe people are drawn to the story of what works. Use the Watershed Report videos for your own outreach and education efforts.
Student leaders deliver in-person updates to key groups within their community:
- Classrooms in grades 5-12
- Faculty meetings in middle school and high school
- School district administrative teams and School Board
- City staff and City Council
- Chambers of Commerce
- Rotary Clubs and other civic organizations
Annual presentations are made to key conservation groups:
- King County Council and DNRP managers and staff
- Other audiences include:
- Science and sustainability conference keynotes and workshops
- Local access TV plus posting on partner websites
- Professional development for educators through a partnership with Antioch University
- Other Puget Sound watershed communities interested in replication
The Watershed Report Meets the Standards of:
|other local water quality and land use policies