California Regional Environmental
Education Community

California Department of Education,
STEM Office

Region 9a Newsletter (San Diego and Imperial Counties)
Winter 2016-2017

Hello Rain! 

I hope you are all enjoying the wet weather San Diego and Imperial Counties have been enjoying this season! As we move through the holidays, this is such a lovely time to think about how we support the environment that gives us our beaches, canyons, and gorgeous chaparral. Enjoy the time outside with your loved ones and teach someone new how to care for our local habitats.

- Crystal Howe, CREEC Coordinator, Region 9a
What's New in Region 9a

Wild Willow Farm! 

Wild Willow Farm, in San Diego's Tijuana River Valley, offers school groups and learners of all ages inspiring experiences of regenerative farming
Visit for more information!

Water Education For All

A free environmental science curriculum available in both English and Spanish and is adaptable for grades K-12 in traditional classroom settings and extracurricular programs.
Click here for more information.
Local Events

Ms. Smarty-Plants™ NGSS Field Trips at The Water Conservation Garden
Eastlake Elementary students explore The Garden and record data
To align Ms. Smarty-Plants™ field trips with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), we viewed the three NGSS components; Core Ideas, Scientific Practices & Crosscutting Concepts like instruments that make up a jazz trio. Looking at each component, we made selections that best fit our field trip site and grade levels. Now to making music!
Ms. Smarty-Plants™ chose the Habitat Garden as the site for her NGSS activity because it features native plants which attract insects and birds, and is designed in a loop so children can move independently while teachers keep a visual on all students.
In groups of three, students are given either a Detective or Scientist Bag with a large activity card, map, magnifying lens and other items. Instructions are written as clues, and from the first step students are leading their own adventure.
As Scientists, students gather field data, search for pollinators, describe their behavior, and observe the relationship between plants and animals. The Detective groups look for changes in the environment by comparing older photographs with the current garden.  Searching for clues, students formulate ideas as to why certain changes occur and later share in a larger group session. By conducting research as Citizen Scientists, children are assisting our organization's goal of monitoring the Habitat Garden, while building their observation skills and confidence in nature.
"With the new NGSS activity, we are seeing deeper involvement from students and a fresh excitement from visiting teachers."  Pam Meisner, Ms. Smarty-Plants™, Education Director at The Water Conservation Garden.

- Jillian Quint
Education Manager

* In order to prepare for the NGSS transition, t he Water Conservation Garden's Education Department attended numerous NGSS workshops with San Diego Children & Nature, the San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego Science Education Conference, and hosted a teacher workshop with the California Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI).


Sources for teachers and providers

View Funding Resources
Disclaimer: These professional learning opportunities and resources are intended merely to provide access to information. The California Department of Education (CDE) has not reviewed these opportunities or resources for effectiveness or alignment with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). CDE does not warrant or guarantee the effectiveness or results of any opportunity or resource that may be made available through this communication network. The inclusion of an opportunity or resource is neither an endorsement nor recommendation by CDE. Please excuse formatting errors that may result from the software application used to distribute this newsletter.

The California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC) Network is an educational project supported by the California Department of Education in collaboration with state, regional and local partners. Its expansive communication network provides educators with access to high-quality educational resources to enhance the environmental literacy of California Students.

Shannon Gordon, CREEC Network State Contact,, STEM Office, California Dept. of Education, 1430 N Street, Suite 4309, Sacramento, CA 95814

In San Diego/Imperial, CREEC is housed and supported by San Diego County Office of Education  Crystal Howe,

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