When Measure Q was passed by voters in 2014, the Open Space Authority made a commitment to invest in nature within our communities and created the Measure Q Urban Open Space & Environmental Education Grant Programs. Here are two recent updates from funded programs.
Veggielution’s Eastside Explorers Program - San Jose
What similarities do a farm and middle school math and science classes have? A lot, actually.
“Everything we do is STEM!” said Emily Schwing, Program Manager for San Jose-based urban farm Veggielution, using the educational acronym for “science, technology, engineering, and math.” From the biology of how organic food waste breaks down in a compost pile to the math involved in calculating how much seed and water use on the farm.
This idea inspired the nonprofit organization to launch Eastside Explorers, a program that brings local middle school students out to their East San Jose farm to learn about the work they do and connect it to lessons they are learning in the classroom. “We’re looking to give students tangible examples, something they can see and feel, beyond what they can read in a textbook.”
During the fall 2018 semester, the program brought 380 students out to the farm, with more than 300 from schools immediately around the farm. Each semester's field trips have a theme - last fall was composting, and this spring is watershed protection. Students are learning about where our water comes from as well as what the school and the farm are doing to protect our water supply and local watersheds. This 2018-2019 school year curriculum development was supported by the Measure Q Environmental Education grant program and was developed in partnership with content experts from the UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program and the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
The organization hopes that students will want to come back to visit the farm, and bring their families so they can plug them into their other community development, healthy food, and leadership training programs. The farm will be hosting six land use planning community input meetings where local neighbors will get the chance to weigh in on future programs and the future use of this space.
Relaxation Beside the Bay: San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society - Alviso
How would you like to start your day in relaxing movement with the sounds of birds and a view over the San Francisco Bay?
The nonprofit, San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society, is inviting members of the community to get outside along the Bay with a peaceful session of yoga or the restorative Chinese martial art, tai chi. The program, hosted at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, offers tai chi classes on the first Saturday of every month and a five-week session of family-friendly yoga classes for adults and kids, ages 5 and up. All classes are free and followed by a nature hike to let folks explore and learn more about the refuge’s natural environment. The program is funded by the Open Space Authority's Measure Q Environmental Education grant program.
Yoga and tai chi are not the typical docent-led events that you usually find at parks or preserves. “It’s non-traditional, but we thought it was a good fit for our urban community," said Hope Presley, Interpretive Specialist & Watershed Watchers Program Coordinator, San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society and Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. “We are trying to introduce people to the wildlife refuge who hadn’t visited before."
The plan is working - in a recent survey of tai chi program attendees, 60% of the participants reported that the class brought them out to the refuge for the first time.
Registration is open now for the next five-week family yoga series, starting in June. Guests are invited to drop into the monthly tai chi classes on the first Saturday of every month. Find out more about the refuge’s upcoming programs on their website.