Watsonville Wetlands Watch works to preserve, restore, and foster appreciation of the wetlands of the Pajaro Valley, and involves the Watsonville community. Our education programs reach over 4,000 students with outdoor learning that helps to develop the next generation of environmental leaders.
One of the last remaining large coastal freshwater slough systems, the 800-acre wetlands support 275 resident and migratory bird species, and 23 native plants and animals that are threatened, endangered, or species of special concern. Coastal wetlands have been shown to play a vital role in countering the effects of climate change.
In response to COVID-19 and to support our initiative Wetlands Action for Climate Change, we launched a paid job training program that helps Watsonville teens expand their leadership skills and take local actions to curb climate change and address environmental justice issues.
Funds raised from Santa Cruz Gives will enable the development of the Climate Corps Leadership Institute, a multi-year paid internship for teens, and will also support the expansion of urban tree plantings in Watsonville. Teens will plant trees on streets, parks, schools, and neighborhoods and will develop small group action projects to affect big changes related to climate change resilience and urban forests in Watsonville.
Trees help to cool schools, improve access to nature, and provide opportunities for youth to take leadership roles in restoring the forest in a city where tree canopy cover is 8%, far below what is needed. Our education programs serve mostly Latino youth from low-to-moderate income households and offer a much-needed opportunity to learn outdoors.
Watsonville Wetlands Watch is ultimately preparing a generation of environmental leaders, policymakers, and educators who will see us through to a more vibrant tomorrow.
Paul Garcia, Watsonville, UC Berkeley Student