Ventura’s Schools Get Their “Green” On!

Ventura Schools Get Their Green On!

FREE Environmental Educational Programs Offered by

Ventura’s Public Works Environmental Sustainability Division

Teach Children About Their Environment

“Students who become ‘environmentally engaged’ at a young age have positive behaviors and attitudes engrained throughout their lives”

–Mary Haffner, Ventura Unified School District Board Member

The City of Ventura’s Public Works Environmental Sustainability Division provides FREE environmental education presentations to all schools in the City of Ventura.  Curriculum used in the classroom presentations aligns with State curriculum guidelines for all grade levels.   The City’s program teaches concepts of recycling, composting, water conservation, and stormwater pollution prevention to more than 4,000 students per year.

“We enjoy presenting age-appropriate material in an interesting, interactive fashion,” says Christine Wied, Environmental Specialist. “It’s all about engaging students at their level of understanding and building upon that knowledge in a creative and entertaining style,” added Jill Sarick Santos, Environmental Coordinator and primary program educator.

Green Schools 

The City’s School Environmental Education program is an integral part of the Ventura Unified School District’s effort to find ways to reduce waste, preserve energy and water usage, as well as implement other environmentally friendly “best” practices.  The VUSD “Green School Committee” is chaired by VUSD Superintendent Dr. Trudy Arriaga and comprised of members representing students, faculty, staff, school administrators and the VUSD School Board. The committee also includes representatives from the Ventura City Council, Patagonia, EJ Harrison and Sons, parents, the City of Ventura Environmental Sustainability Division and other community members.

“It’s vital that our youth learn how to care for our precious environment,” said Mary Haffner, Board Member for the Ventura Unified School District.  “Becoming ‘environmentally engaged’ at a young age engrains positive behaviors and attitudes in students that are so vital for the quality of their future — and for their children’s future.  This type of learning can also open the door and fuel ideas for potential career paths that might not otherwise be considered. It’s truly a win-win for everyone.”

School Waste Sorts – Less Waste, Less Cost

A recent collaboration between VUSD and the City’s Environmental Sustainability Division is the waste sort program recently conducted at several schools.  Student volunteers helped City Environmental Specialists sort through lunch-time trash to glean information that could help reduce waste.  At one school, the sorting team discovered a significant number of unopened milk cartons and uneaten apples from the school lunch program discarded in the trash.  Further analysis showed that one cause could be students impatient to get to recess, which immediately followed lunch.       Some schools have students go to recess first and then come in to eat lunch. In fact, a lunchtime waste assessment at another school, where recess precedes lunch, showed almost no such waste.

Community Environmental Education

In addition to school outreach, the Environmental Sustainability Division offers FREE presentations on environmental topics to civic and community groups, multi-family housing units and local businesses.   Environmental education exhibits are also set up at annual Home and Garden Shows and Earth Day events, Street Fairs and other public venues.

For more information, call 652-4525, or visit: Http://

FREE Environmental Education Programs

Where Does It Go?

A focused lesson on Ventura’s waste stream, stormwater pollution and its impact on marine life.

Magic of Water (Grades K-3, Middle School and High School)

Students are introduced to the water cycle, watersheds and the “Enviroscape” storm water pollution model.

Dr. Rot (3rd grade)

Paul Vaksvik, an Interpretive Specialist in outdoor recreation education for the City, portrays the entertaining “Dr. Rot,” wearing a wiry wig and scientist costume.  Paul incorporates a mixture of music, dance and theatrical performance covering basic concepts of recycling, composting and water quality.

Captain Hydro (5th grade)

Paul Vaksvik (portraying the experienced Sea Captain, “Captain Hydro”) discusses water conservation and conducts spirited jeopardy-type in-class water games.

After School Program

A three part series on watersheds, the After School Program is a new pilot program offered to students in Peak and ACE Programs.  Part I:  What Is A Watershed?  The stormwater education model and art are incorporated. Part II: How Do Watersheds Function? This lesson includes a visit to the Ventura River with the Santa Barbara Channel Keepers. Part III:  Our Watershed.  This lesson includes a kayak trip in Ventura Harbor to “see and experience” the watershed first hand with Blue Sky Wilderness Guides.

Resources & Assistance

Some free recycling, composting and worm bins are available for schools interested in starting a recycling or composting program.  The Environmental Sustainability Division provides one free worm or compost bin per school in a calendar year along with a lesson on composting or worm composting. This lesson can supplement school gardens at some schools.

For more information on the above, and/or to schedule a program for your school, contact:

Where Does It Go? Magic of Water, After School Programs

Contact:  Jill Sarick Santos, 805-652-4501

Dr. Rot and Captain Hydro

Contact:  Barbara Orr Wahl, 805-677-3961

Resources & Assistance

Contact:  Christine Wied, 805-652-4584

Free Waste/Recycling Assistance for Local Businesses

The Environmental Sustainability Division’s professional staff will assist local businesses in “greening” their business through a free waste/recycling assessment that offers helpful tools, collection strategies and other green tips that may save some “green” as well.  Call 652-4525 for more information.


One Comment

  1. What a wonderful place to learn how to save our planet!…school!

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