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Wetlands Education Program

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Students participate in the dip-netting activity during the wetlands field trip program.

The MVSD Wetlands Education Program started in 1996 by providing field trip experiences to Martinez elementary schools. The program has grown over the years and now includes a field trip experience and a classroom program. MVSD partners with the Lindsay Wildlife Experience (LWE) on presenting a curriculum aligned with California Science Standards for both programs. Now, thanks to various grant programs, private donations, and revenues from MVSD’s cell tower and billboard leases, students from schools throughout Contra Costa County can participate in these complimentary experiences.

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Students watching birds during the wetlands hike in Moorhen Marsh.

The Wetlands Field Trip Program is a 4-hour experience where students explore Moorhen Marsh, dip net for aquatic animals, tour MVSD’s treatment plant, and learn about water pollution prevention and aquatic animal adaptations. While participating in the wetlands hike, students look for mammal signs like tracks and scat from species including river otter, black-tailed deer, grey fox, and even mink! Students also get the opportunity to learn how to find and observe birds like great blue heron, Canada goose, pied-billed grebe, and red-shouldered hawk. Dip-netting activities allow for close up inspection of a variety of fish and invertebrate species including three-spined stickleback, mosquito fish, dragonfly nymph, amphipods, and crayfish. The treatment plant tour gives students a first-hand look at how wastewater is treated so it can safely be returned to the environment and how everyone can participate in keeping our creeks and waterways clean by learning what is safe to pour down the drain. The Wetlands Field Trip Program is available Tuesdays through Thursdays in fall and spring. Currently, this program is on hiatus due to construction at the MVSD plant.

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A southern alligator lizard is shared with students during the Wetlands Field
Trip Program in Moorhen Marsh.

The Wetlands Classroom Program is a 1-hour experience offered in winter, where LWE instructors visit Contra County elementary school classrooms. Teachers select from three available programs:  Craft a Wetland Critter, Water Quality for LIfe, and Wetlands Wonder.

We believe that these programs benefit both our community’s school students as well as the county’s fish and wildlife by increasing awareness, appreciation, and understanding of the functions and values of wetland habitats and the wildlife they support.

Do you teach in Contra Costa County and want to sign up for a field trip or classroom program? Want to join our interest list to be contacted when the programs return? Contact MVSD’s Public Outreach Coordinator at rmitchell@mvsd.org.

You can help keep this program alive for future generations by donating to the Dorothy M. Sakazaki Environmental Endowment Fund.  The Fund supports the District’s environmental programs like the Wetlands Field Trip. The Fund is an Internal Revenue Code Section 501 (c) (3) charitable organization. For more information on the Fund and the Wetlands Education Program, contact the Public Outreach Coordinator at rmitchell@mvsd.org.

 

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