Region Updates - Region 4

Submission by Julie Hasty (NM) julie [at]

I joined the Santa Fe Watershed Association a year ago in August, and having previously been a part of Arizona Project WET, felt the responsibility to make sure Project WET resources are accessible in New Mexico. It has taken some time and I have been slowly figuring out where those resources are needed and making connections in the community to move forward. This past summer I spent an afternoon with a “Girls Science Camp” at the Randall Davey Audubon Center doing “Water Quality? Ask the Bugs”. The campers had a great time sorting and identifying the “bugs” and learning the technique, then got to sort some live benthic macroinvertebrates that I brought in from the Santa Fe River. There was feedback that it was a favorite activity of the week! (see photos below)

At the Santa Fe Watershed Assn in the past year, we have updated our 5th grade local watershed curriculum and this past summer held the first in person workshop since before Covid to train teachers on that new curriculum. The lessons have been developed using the 5E instructional model (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate) and we have emphasized using outdoor classrooms for learning. I was pleased at the workshop to receive feedback from teachers that they would love to see more Project WET workshops for multiple grade levels offered in schools and the district. With that in mind there are some exciting upcoming events this school year. I will be conducting a mini workshop at the New Mexico Science Teachers Association Conference on Climate, Water and Resilience on September 24. On February 11, I will be conducting a workshop for 3-6th grade teachers focused on 2.0 Guide lessons through the Santa Fe Science Initiative. We will also be rolling out Arroyo Curriculum for 6th grade students this school year and hope this adds to students’ understanding of the local watershed and water cycle with the other education being offered.

In October I will be attending the NAAEE Conference in Tucson, so I hope to get to see other PWET coordinators there!

Submission by Brian Brown (CA) projectWET [at]

California Project WET worked with partners to organize 3 three-day California Water Institutes highlighting local watershed and infrastructure connections to State and Federal water systems, the natural and human systems that affect local water supplies and Project WET activities that can engage K-12 students in learning about and taking action to protect their local water resources. 

workshopCalifornia Facilitators also helped organize and co-lead 3 full week-long Forestry Institutes for Teachers. These institutes focus on the importance of forests and forest management on California water and other natural resources and the broad range of professionals and perspectives involved in forestry and forest management. Participants are K-12 educators from throughout California. They receive Project WET and Project Learning tree training – by grade bands – during the institutes.

I also co-led a special focus Project WET workshop on climate change with our partners in the CA Dept. of Water Resources Climate Change program, a Project WET training as part of a week-long environmental literacy PD for county school leads from throughout central California and a Facilitator’s Training for water districts in southern California over the summer.

The fall includes leading a tour of the California Delta for Project WET trained educators, leading Project WET trainings at the California Naturalist conference and for new AmeriCorps members that are part of an alliance of non-profit environmental organizations throughout the Sierra Nevada-Cascade region of California. California Facilitators will be leading workshops in the Monterey Bay, Coachella Valley, Bay-Delta and San Diego County regions this fall.

Region 4 Newsletter submissions

New Mexico Project WET

1.    What have been the highlights of your program in the past year? Having kids and adults back up in the watershed exploring the area during the school year and having a great group of teachers in person for the summer workshop. Lots of really positive feedback! I facilitated an adult climate master’s course this past spring as well and it was an uplifting experience.

2.    What have been your greatest challenges? Getting programming started for last school year not knowing what Covid protocols would mean for planning purposes. Also, many things needed to be updated and revised. It has been playing a lot of catch up!

3.    What challenges are you seeing going into the next school year? Teachers are feeling stretched very thin so one of the challenges is to provide them with resources that they see as helpful and not just one more task on their to do list. We are rolling out new arroyo curriculum and recruiting teachers to attend workshops and follow through with lessons may be challenging. 

4.    What are your plans to date for your Project WET program going into the next school year? 
I have a proposal in to the NM Science Teachers Association to do a mini-Climate, Water, and Resilience workshop at the September conference so hopefully that will be approved. I am going to do a Saturday Project WET workshop for 3-6 grade teachers with the Santa Fe Science Initiative this school year, date TBD. Ongoing Project WET activities at public events.

Nevada Project WET (Chuck Schembre)

1.    What have been the highlights of your program in the past year?

  • Among all facilitators and state coordinator, 6 Project WET teacher training workshops were conducted
  • 2 new 319h Nonpoint Source Contracts were signed in early 2022 to fund a total 6 Project WET workshops in the next 1.5 years, including CWR trainings in Las Vegas
  • Chuck created a relationship with the NV State AmeriCorps volunteer program to train AmeriCorps members conducting EE.  This will become an annual training in collaboration with Truckee Meadows Park Foundation, NV Dept of Wildlife, NDEP, and AmeriCorps.
  • Chuck has been in conversation and planning with the State Superintendents office, DOE, for developing a State Level online on Demand NV Watershed Teacher Training PD course, with an emphasis on WET curriculum. 
  • Integrating soil conservation and soil health into the education program.

2.    What have been your greatest challenges?

  • Strategizing the future of the program in my current position which wears many hats.  My position is tasked to perform many watershed and soil and water education tasks.  Project WET and teacher training is just one piece of my large pie.  I feel there is a lot of room to expand and strengthen PWET in NV, but I can not give more than 15% of my time to WET.
  • Coming out of COVID and being new to the position during the peak of COVID brought on the usually immense challenge of connecting with people in person
  • Understanding the connection and need of WET trainings for teachers across the state, and understanding the requirements of each School District.  Teacher trainings are not well attended and often feel like a lot of effort for lil reward and appreciation from teachers.  I am spending time to understand the most effective way to integrate WET into schools.

3.    What challenges are you seeing going into the next school year?

  • Yielding attendance to teacher trainings
  • Solutions to integrate WET curriculum back into the teachers class curriculum once they have complete a WET Training.
  • Getting partner organizations to document their time using WET activities at EE events, camps, etc.
  • Developing a Facilitator training.

4.    What are your plans to date for your Project WET program going into the next school year?

  • Develop a soil health to water connection training, and evaluate how to integrate WET activities in to the training.  In general, increase soil education and emphasis the role of healthy soils for healthy watersheds.  I am interested to provide National level support and perhaps champion soil health into the WET curriculum, because without health soils we will never solve our water pollution and quantity issues.
  • Develop a Facilitator Training
  • Support WET trainings we are funding under the 319h grant.
  • Evaluate the best strategy for managing a State WET program, which is only 15-20% of my jobs focus.  At times, it is less than 10%.  

Arizona Project WET (Holly Thomas-Hilburn)

  1. What have been the highlights of your program in the past year? Ch-ch-changes! (You are required to sing this aloud in the regional meeting!) Kerry Schwartz retired June 30, 2021. Holly began as director a couple of weeks later, and we’ve had 5 new team members join us since then. We held a bunch of in person water festivals and got back in the field and the classroom with students and teachers, just not to the degree we are used to.
  2.  What have been your greatest challenges? Getting “back to normal” when things are not normal at all! Teacher interest in PD is WAY down, and our classroom programming was in much less demand. We are not sure what will happen this year, but we hope that we will see an uptick in interest in water education, with water as THE major topic for our state, with the Colorado River shortages coming on fast and furious. 
  3. What challenges are you seeing going into the next school year? More of the same, sadly. But we’re hoping things are looking up!
  4. What are your plans to date for your Project WET program going into the next school year? Arizona Water Festivals are off and running, with a full calendar and even more in Southern Arizona. Our Tucson team is working on incorporating more rainwater harvesting and urban water cycle education into our programming, and we recently launched the Forest Investigations Activity center to teach about the connections between healthy watershed, healthy forests, and healthy communities.

Arizona Project WET (Shevonda ‘Shevy’ Joyner)

1.    What have been the highlights of your program in the past year?

  • We had our 1st ever Coolidge Water Festival
  • The new coordinator started in October 2021 (me 🙂)
  • Groundwater Conservation Education program classes started in Pinal County cities Maricopa and San Tan Valley 

2.    What have been your greatest challenges?

  • Learning curve of not knowing how the water industry/environmental education worked 

3.    What challenges are you seeing going into the next school year?

  • Teacher participation
  • Supervising a new AmeriCorps

4.    What are your plans to date for your Project WET program going into the next school year?

  • Planning more Groundwater classes
  • connecting with more sponsors

Colorado Project WET (Scott Williamson)

1.    What have been the highlights of your program in the past year? 
Bringing on an AmeriCorps eeCorps member (Cailyn Andrews) for a term through a partnership with the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education.

2.    What have been your greatest challenges? Keeping Project WET going while helping to spearhead a statewide public awareness campaign (Water ’22) and continue regular programming (e.g. multiple tours)
3.    What challenges are you seeing going into the next school year? Overall rebuilding after staff transitions within the organization. Also, finding another eeCorps member to help with supporting K-12 educators as Cailyn has finished her term with us.
4.    What are your plans to date for your Project WET program going into the next school year? Project WET Advanced Facilitator training in late October on the Highline Canal (irrigation canal being repurposed for stormwater management and as an environmental/recreation asset). The training will focus on drought and variability by utilizing current events and simple ways to model complex water issues (e.g. how does 2-4 million acre-feet of water compare to the amount used in your x, y, z)  Some other exciting possibilities in development, but official to report!

California Project WET (Brian Brown)

1.    What have been the highlights of your program in the past year?
Experiencing the joy and excitement of educators being able to gather again in-person to have fun learning about water and engaging in Project WET activities that they all want to use in their classrooms!

2.    What have been your greatest challenges? Getting people to show up after registering. I have started charging for workshops again even if we have all costs covered and it has reduced the ‘no show’ rate on the first few workshops with the fee this summer. The other great challenge has been getting people to respond as I try to plan events – even within my own office. I’m just completely flabbergasted how hard it is to get responses from so many people when we have so many different and very easy ways to communicate.

3.    What challenges are you seeing going into the next school year? The twin issues of communication and getting people to show for trainings will remain challenges, and the ever-changing Covid conditions will add to the challenges (and already are) as we go into the fall and winter. 

4.    What are your plans to date for your Project WET program going into the next school year? I’m hoping the usual round of professors and a few more Facilitators will be sending in workshop proposals in the next few weeks. California Project WET already has 38 of the annual target of 40 workshops on the books so going into the fall with a little less pressure than last year – though we won’t even be close on training 1,000 teachers this year…


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