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Watsonville Wetlands Watch

Organization Mission

Watsonville Wetlands Watch (WWW) is dedicated to preserving, restoring and fostering appreciation of the wetlands of the Pajaro Valley.

Programs benefit students, residents, and local habitats. We provide environmental education and field trips to over 6,000 students from the Pajaro Valley USD each year, from low-to-moderate income households. We engage students in hands-on data collection, analysis, and scientific experimentation to develop their skills as scientists and support their learning and leadership development to inspire them to be environmental stewards in our community. Restoration efforts benefit local wildlife and the wetland ecosystems that connect the Pajaro Valley to the Monterey Bay.

The Big Idea 2024:
Living Schoolyards in the Pajaro Valley

Just 9% of Watsonville is covered by tree canopy. We must triple that to meet our goal of 30% tree coverage to achieve parity with similar communities in the region. Trees reduce surface temperatures on high heat days, and sequester atmospheric carbon, cleaning air and filtering groundwater before it flows to the Pajaro River.

WWW will collaborate with Pajaro Valley USD teachers and students to plant shade trees and native plant pollinator gardens on campuses, to create living schoolyards that support student health, environmental health and offer hands-on learning about local wetlands, watersheds, and the traditional uses of native plants in the wetland ecosystems.

WWW will provide shade and fruit trees, native plants, project design, oversight, and training. Student interns will support this project, including teaching younger students, and caring for trees and plants during summer break. Teachers will organize student volunteers for plant installation, watering and maintenance. The living schoolyards will be integrated into student classwork to support environmental learning and exploration of career pathways.

I really enjoyed going out to schools, teaching students, and seeing the impact I was able to have on them. I would love to continue having an impact on younger generations. My goal is to be a high school environmental science teacher.

Jasmin Martinez-Mendez, Wetland Steward intern (2021-23), Watsonville, age 18