Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Upstream Investments & Pepperwood - A Winning Partnership

By Sandi Funke, Education Director

Students from Calistoga Elementary School
visit Pepperwood. Photo by Sandi Funke.
Pepperwood year-long environmental education program for area elementary schools, SCENIQ (Students Conducting Environmental Inquiry), has recently qualified for Sonoma County's Upstream Investments Portfolio at the Tier Three level for Innovative Practices. The Portfolio of Model Upstream Programs is a collection of local evidence-based programs proven to help eliminate poverty in Sonoma County and ensure equal opportunity for quality education. Programs included in the Portfolio have completed a rigorous application and review process to demonstrate a solid basis in research and a commitment to program evaluation. Pepperwood Foundation’s SCENIQ program is an innovative conservation program based on best practices that promotes lifelong environmental stewardship.

 “SCENIQ is a true Upstream success story," said Joni Thacher, Training and Technical Assistance Manger for Upstream Investments. "Pepperwood has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to designing and implementing a program with a solid research base and a commitment to demonstrating learning outcomes. Through the SCENIQ program, Pepperwood provides youth with opportunities for hands on science experiences. The outdoor education program incorporates common core standards while teaching students about outdoor safety and conservation. Upstream Investments applauds their efforts to provide high quality educational experiences to the youth in Sonoma County.” 

The mission of Upstream Investments is to promote effective and prevention-focused approaches that will ultimately uproot poverty and reduce monetary and societal costs to our community. The Portfolio of Model Upstream Programs is a collection of evidence-informed programs. Programs undergo a rigorous, iterative process to join the portfolio. Programs are listed as Tier 1, 2, or 3 depending on where they are in the process and the type of program. Pepperwood’s application to Upstream Investments engaged the expertise of not only Pepperwood staff but our Education Advisory Committee as well as technical advisers from Upstream. Funders are using the portfolio to guide their investments.

Students from San Miguel Elementary School explore nature artifacts
during a visit by Pepperwood educators. P
hoto by Sandi Funke.
“I am very excited that the SCENIQ program from Pepperwood has been included in the Upstream Investments Portfolio. For many of my students, their participation in the SCENIQ program is their first and most extensive foray into the natural world,” said Doug Day, 5th grade teacher at San Miguel Elementary School in Santa Rosa.

Pepperwood’s SCENIQ program provides the community’s diverse youth and their families with the knowledge, motivation, and skills to get outside and enjoy exploring nature, not just during their visit to Pepperwood, but over their lifetimes. Educators pique students’ curiosity and excitement and inspire a long-lasting appreciation for the natural world. This is accomplished by teaching schoolchildren fun, hands-on, nature observation skills they can apply in their communities and having them practice these skills at Pepperwood.

Students from Hidden Valley Elementary School
hike at Pepperwood. P
hoto by Sandi Funke.
SCENIQ includes a four-hour hands-on, science-based field trip in the fall, a one-hour classroom lesson in the winter, supplementary teacher-directed lesson plans, and a follow up four-hour field trip in the spring. The program utilizes bilingual English-Spanish nature journals customized for each grade level with illustrations of local plants and animals by artist John Muir Laws. Over 800 students participate in SCENIQ each year from schools in Santa Rosa, Calistoga, and Healdsburg. Pepperwood prioritizes serving classes from Title One schools and provides bus transportation scholarships to enable their participation.

Interested in supporting Pepperwood's SCENIQ program? Click here to make a donation.

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