If you walk the length of our home base at Steamer Landing, you can see the beginnings of a transformation. As part of a rewilding of the park, students of Jessica Dennen and Shiloh Winder’s Carpe Diem and Sonoma Mountain High School classes have been working with our Stewardship Coordinator Lee Farese to plant and tend to native California species.
This project is part of Dennen and Shiloh’s Watershed Classroom curriculum, Steamer Landing Restoration, and it began as a submission for the PG&E Solar Suitcase Program.
Solar Suitcase Program
PG&E describes their Solar Suitcase program as a way to “(encourage) students to ‘act locally and think globally’” by asking them to undertake a local community service project focused on sustainability. Classes submit videos of their project and winning classes will have the opportunity to send one teacher and two students on a humanitarian trip with WE Charity to distribute solar suitcases. Below is Dennen and Winder's winning submission video!
Restoration and Connection
Over the course of five months, students have worked with Stewardship Coordinator Lee Farese to prepare for, plant, and tend to coyote brush, coffeeberry, toyon, and wild rose, all shrubs native to coast prairie and coast scrub eco-systems. They also planted two large trees: a California buckeye and a coast live oak.
Repeated trips to the site allowed students to form a relationship with the land they were working with. “One of the most rewarding aspects,” says Farese, “has been to watch the students get to know the land at Steamer Landing and of this particular part of California better across the arc of a season. Just the simple elements of getting to watch the grass sprout and then overgrow their plants, or watching the wet season come and go. In all of it there's a sense that students really are walking away with a little deeper understanding of where they are.”
Winders said that his students, “thrived outdoors,” and that working out at Steamer landing has helped them see that “‘making a difference’ does not have to be a momentous, earth shattering achievement. You can make a difference in small ways that contribute to the good of our community and environment.”
When Dennen and Winders were asked what they would tell other teachers considering partnering with FOPR for restoration on the downtown peninsula, Winder’s reaction was a resounding “DO IT," and Dennen told FOPR “Our students will remember this experience forever and because of it, they have a closer connection to our town, our river and nature."