Every other year the Sierra Expeditionary Learning School (SELS) takes its second and third grade students on a tour of historic, downtown Truckee. This tour exposes the students to sites on Commercial Row, Jibboom Street and the surrounding areas, which contain rich historical resources. The purpose of this tour is to engage our youth with valuable assets that exist close to home. There is much to learn about Truckee’s vibrant past and it is all accessible by foot and in close proximity.
This fall, Mountain Area Preservation (MAP) will collaborate with SELS and include the Trout Creek Pocket Park (TCPP) on the downtown tour. In 2016, TCPP was completed at the intersection of Jibboom and Bridge Streets in historic, downtown Truckee. Prior to completion, the site was a neglected, environmental disaster. Compacted dirt, crumbling asphalt and garbage covered much of the area. Dirty snow, road debris and toxic runoff was deposited along Trout Creek, a tributary of the Truckee River and drinking water source for Truckee, Tahoe and Reno. MAP turned the park into a Sustainable Site featuring native, drought tolerant landscaping, permeable pavers, a storm water drainage facility and a solar light fixture. The park provides garbage and recycling collection, an interpretive kiosk with panels done by a local artist featuring the flora and fauna of the area as well as a watershed overview of the creek path from its headwaters in Tahoe Donner to its connection with the Truckee River. Truckee's Native American history is highlighted in an art panel depicting how the Washoe Tribe utilized local pinon pine nuts and goji berries for their diet. An authentic Washoe grinding stone has been relocated to the park and commemorated with a plaque honoring its cultural value. A hand forged Art Bike Rack designed and built by two local female artists serves dual purposes as both a place to park your bike and a work of art to admire. Topics such as infill, environmental restoration, native landscaping, flora, fauna, watershed ecology, sustainable design and stewardship will be covered in this experiential place-based education program. At the end of the tour, each student will receive a two-sided, color, bilingual activity sheet to take home with environmental education themes and games to reinforce the many learning targets. In addition to the activity sheet, the students will create an informational rack card pointing out the various attributes of the park. This card will be designed in the classroom by the students and will be distributed to every student at SELS as well as placed at the Truckee Chamber of Commerce/Visitors’ Center at the Train Depot.
This grant request covers the cost to print the activity sheets and rack cards at Copy Center.
This is likely the first time many students will hear about land use planning and why it is such an important part of how we design our communities. The tour participants will see firsthand how a place can go from a wasteland to a vibrant, sustainable green space and how simple measures like using permeable pavers can be taken to address water quality impacts. Students will also learn about non-profits and their role in community building and collaboration. They will see how art can be used not only for visual pleasure, but to serve a functional purpose as a bike rack.
Additionally, the inclusion of TCPP on the tour offers a wonderful opportunity to cross cultural lines and open up a field of study to populations that are often marginalized and left out of land use planning conversations. Ensuring that Truckee’s Latino population is included in watershed stewardship and environmental restoration programs is an invaluable benefit of expanding the tour. As we broaden the scope of our environmental outreach to include more people from diverse backgrounds, we will see an increase in young people who care about the natural world around them. These individuals will share this knowledge with their communities. SELS and MAP will work together to create project materials that are written in Spanish and culturally sensitive. As we are able to add additional classes to the tour each year, this will increase in our ability to promote cultural awareness and diversity around environmental stewardship.
We will define success with the inclusion of the TCPP on the Downtown Historic Tour in fall 2018. The impacts of this project will enhance the classroom in that it will cover a wide array of learning target topics described above. The students will take what they learn at the park site and work in the classroom to create a informational rack card highlighting the park's attributes. This activity will expose the students to many skills including graphic arts and design, research and development of ideas, editing of text and team work. Additionally, the development of the rack card will reinforce the themes learned at the park regarding environmental sustainability and stewardship. The inclusion of Truckee Elementary in fall 2019 will be another indicator of success. This will be accomplished via outreach by MAP to the elementary school. We will work to have a representative from the school attend the tour in 2018 in order to see the program. Our hope is to inspire these third grade teachers to include the park in their downtown tour in 2019. This will add an additional 100 students to the tour with all of the associated benefits. As a follow up each year, we will have the teachers provide us feedback from which we can make improvements to our program. We plan to include all of the elementary schools in the district as well as the other Charter, Private and Alternative Schools in the region. This project has the opportunity to create educational benefits for our youth and adult population as well as the environment as a whole.
The pilot program will take place in fall 2018 in conjunction with SELS' historic, downtown tour, exact date yet to be determined but usually September or October. The plan is to work with Truckee Elementary after the pilot program occurs to have the third graders participate in fall 2019.
This grant covers the cost of materials for all 2/3 students attending SELS.
Once the pilot program is launched we believe we will have more success with larger funding sources to cover the entire cost of the program. Given the short turn around time to begin the program we are working with local foundations to help kick off the program in its first year. We have submitted grants to the Clif Bar Family Foundation and the Lahontan Community Foundation for additional funding support to cover MAP's staffing needs. We will apply to the SELS' PTC spring grant program for a small grant to support the development of the curriculum for the program as a collaboration between SELS and MAP.