Late in 2019, The CREW was offered the opportunity to launch a 20-year ecological restoration project, led by young people throughout the Ventura River Watershed. Naturally, we enthusiastically embraced the opportunity and in January 2020 we embarked on a multi-year pilot phase with partners Pax Environmental, Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, and Ventura Land Trust’s educational program Once Upon A Watershed.
In this first phase, we are partnering with dedicated environmental science teachers at Matilija Middle School and Nordhoff High School. These teachers are already taking students onto their campuses to learn about native plants, to collect seeds and cuttings, and to use these plants to create robust native habitats on campus. Additionally, juniors and seniors at Nordhoff will lead oak woodland restoration starting with 2.5 acres at the adjacent Ojai Meadows Preserve. Students and CREW members will take the lead on planting, caring for these new native gardens, tracking plant health, wildlife activity, and sharing our progress with the community. Students and CREW members will also take the lead in designing new projects as our work grows.
Although students are not able to gather in-person for classes yet, we are able to work safely, outdoors and in very small groups. It is our hope that during such a time of uncertainty and isolation, this is an opportunity for young people to spend much-needed time together doing meaningful activities. Alongside the valuable environmental education that these students will gain, working in nature connects people with each other and gives a sense of purpose and optimism when it could not be more essential.
This project is early in its development and will continue to grow and change. Stay tuned for developments and learn about opportunities to get involved by signing up for our monthly e-newsletter!