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Teachers look through binoculars at the top of Overlook HillJohn Takekawa with teachers in Suisun MarshPress Release (August 9, 2021)
Category: Education Program


Contact: Marianne Butler, Watershed Education Director

Inaugural Solano Water Institute for Teachers making waves in science education
Summer workshop highlighted local land and water resources for 27 local educators

Solano County, CA - The Solano Resource Conservation District (Solano RCD) hosted the first three-day Solano Water Institute for Teachers last week at various sites throughout Solano County and at Lake Berryessa. The new teacher workshop provided 27 Solano County educators with knowledge, skills, and tools to help them effectively teach watershed science and land preservation from a locally relevant perspective. The Solano Water Institute featured presentations from nine local and state experts on water resources, open spaces, and climate change with conversations integrating Project WET, an award-winning environmental education curriculum created by the Water Education Foundation.

“These place-based learning experiences give teachers knowledge on the impacts of drought and climate change in our area,” explained Marianne Butler, education director for Solano Resource Conservation District. “We hope that the local presenters inspired teachers and encouraged them enough to empower their students to help protect our natural resources in Solano County.”

The training began on Wednesday, August 4 at Rush Ranch Open Space near Suisun City. Educators learned about the importance and challenges of managing the Suisun Marsh and other open spaces from both Suisun Resource Conservation District’s John Takekawa and Solano Land Trust’s Jasmine Westbrook-Barsukov. Teachers also learned from Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Leonard regarding Solano County Office of Education’s Explorers Quest program - an outdoor treasure hunt that offers students and their families the adventure of discovering native plants and animals in Solano County.

The second day of the workshop was spent boating on Lake Berryessa as part of an educational tour helping teachers experience first-hand the significance Lake Berryessa holds for them and their students: “It’s extremely important that students know Lake Berryessa is their drinking water,” explained Jennifer Onufer, Supervising Park Ranger with the United States Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) at Lake Berryessa. “While they can also recreate and play here, it is first and foremost a precious drinking water source that they can help protect.”

Onufer’s statement came during an expert question and answer session held at the BOR Visitor Center halfway through the tour. The panel discussion also featured Education Specialist Kathy Schulz from the California Department of Water Resources, Water Quality Supervisor Marc Bautista from the City of Benicia, and Senior Engineer Alex Rabidoux with the Solano County Water Agency. Rabidoux also gave a full hour presentation on the State Water Project, Central Valley Project, and the Solano Project which includes Lake Berryessa and the Putah South Canal.
Solano County Parks Supervisor Chris Drake closed out Thursday with an overview of the opportunities within County Parks and ongoing efforts to increase park access. Friday’s training was held at the City of Fairfield’s Dunnell Nature Park and Education Center where teachers were trained by California Project WET Coordinator Brian Brown to facilitate Project WET activities using the content they learned during the workshop.
Teachers who completed the workshop and participate in an October follow up meeting are eligible for a $200 stipend and can receive 21 hours of continuing education credit. The date for the 2022 Solano Water Institute is yet to be determined.

The 2021 Solano Water Institute for Teachers was funded by the Solano County Orderly Growth Committee, the California Department of Water Resources, the Water Education Foundation, and the School Water Education Program including the cities of Vacaville, Dixon, Fairfield, Suisun City, Vallejo and Benicia, Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District, and Solano Irrigation District. The workshop is hosted by Solano RCD with support from Brian Brown, Project WET Coordinator for California. For more information, please visit solanorcd.org or email .

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