The San Diego Zoo received a $45,750 grant from the San Diego Unified Port District for its coastal stream restoration program, Stream Team Stewards. The collaborative program, in partnership with Ground Works San Diego, served more than 600 students at six elementary schools in southeastern San Diego. The six elementary schools that participated in the Stream Team Stewards program were: Valencia Park, Nye, Carver, Sherman, Chollas-Mead, and Encanto.
The goal of the Zoo's Stream Team Stewards program is to create knowledgeable, caring stewards of the environment who will work to improve their coastal waters and the surrounding watershed. Through school assemblies and field trips to local San Diego watersheds, the students restored one-acre of the Chollas Creek stream corridor at 38th and Alpha Street, cleaned up debris from the downstream beach and stenciled an estimated 50 community storm drains.
The students enjoyed participating in a trash removal day at their school or at the beach. Two of the schools picked up approximately 15 pounds of trash at the Silver Strands Beach. The other four schools picked up approximately 60 pounds of trash at their respective school sites. All of these activities helped to reduce the amount of trash contaminating the Chollas Creek watershed and the San Diego Bay. Another accomplishment of the Stream Team Stewards program was stenciling approximately 50 storm drains in and around the Chollas Creek watershed community. The storm drains were stenciled during a community event in the Chollas Creek neighborhood on September 26, 2009. The stenciling was a collaborative effort with the San Diego Oceans Foundation. The stencils serve as a reminder to individuals in the community that anything placed in the storm drain eventually makes its way to the ocean and could potentially harm ocean wildlife and habitat.
The students' favorite part of the Stream Team Stewards program was restoring the habitat at two restoration sites in southeastern San Diego. The students learned how to identify native versus invasive plants and observed some of the animals that live in and around the watershed. Every student planted a native plant at the restoration site and helped create new habitat for native animals in San Diego.
"Through this significant grant, the San Diego Unified Port District enabled students to become conservation champions for their watershed and led their community in creating a healthier coastal area," said Douglas G. Myers, chief executive officer of the San Diego Zoo. "We appreciate their support and look forward to working with them on conservation education projects in the future."
The grant from the San Diego Unified Port District taught students that their daily behaviors can affect aquatic plants and animals. It also empowered students to make a difference in their community and help the environment in which they live.
The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and their habitats. The organization focuses on conservation and research work around the globe, educates millions of individuals a year about wildlife and maintains accredited horticultural, animal, library and photo collections. The Zoo also manages the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, which includes a 900-acre native species reserve, and the San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.