The Pescadero Watershed Project involved students, teachers, administrators, staff and the community of Pescadero from 1991 to 1997. After all these years, the following interviews were conducted recently by Steve Maskel, who was director of the program and is now retired from science teaching. The role of each interviewee in the project is listed below, followed by their present status in parentheses.
“I remember the fun. We got into waders, looked for aquatic bugs in the creek. I recall how we took fish out of the trap, measured them, and returned the data to the high school. By the time we finished the work over several years, all of us looked at the creek in a new way.” – Larissa Tibbles, Student (Pension Plan Administrator) “I developed a unit called Edible Delights. Susan Elliot volunteered to work with us. She provided the necessary plant identifications and directed the preparation of the meals of wild edibles. The kids especially enjoyed preparing stinging nettles so that they could be added to a soup. The survival skill element to the unit made it attractive to students. At the conclusion, we prepared a wild edibles cookbook.” – Terry Ajuria, Teacher (Retired)
“I remember going out to the creek and counting steelhead and coho salmon. It made science more attractive. It was a good way to appreciate the steelhead migration and the importance of the count. We worked as a team for weeks and everyone got a hands-on experience. The project got me interested in wildlife which as been part of my professional life ever since. You did great. Your encouragement extended to everybody. Your leadership made the project so successful for years. Students were given lots of responsibility to do field work, write reports, and make public presentations. It made us more protective of our local environment. Pescadero had all those advantages that made the project possible (the creek, estuary, redwood forests, beaches, rocky intertidal and, of course, the ocean). I am very grateful for your leadership and how you integrated the fieldwork into the classroom.” – Rogelio Castañeda, Student (San Mateo County Park Ranger)
“I remember the computer part of the curriculum. We were able to do some computing and programing with a room full of Apple’s. (The arrival of the computers from Apple as part of the grant allowed us to expand the project and apply the computers to our regular academic programs.) We also created an application to allow creek data to be graphed for final publication. The project made many of our regular classes more relevant as the project progressed. The work required deeper thinking and fostered many connections to everyday life. You strongly advocated for the program and really fought for it. The community continues to be positively affected by the project years later.” – Shannon Webb, Student (Pension Plan Administrator)
“I remember going to the creek to collect fish. It was lots of fun outdoors and a very good experience for all of us. We all wanted to do it again. Based on our experience I know that it fostered responsibility in all of us. This was a great experience for young adults. All of us went through similar project experiences over several years. You taught us well to make sense of the field experience and its connection to our regular classes. You made us feel like we were all family members. I thought the whole project was great.” – Sergio Castaneda, Student (Landscape Materials Salesman)
Steve Maskel is a retired science teacher who directed a celebrated Watershed Project at Pescadero High School from 1990-1997. This is the last entry in a series of blogs he is writing for Field Notes.
August 1, 2023
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