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SYRCL’s Field Science Expeditions for High Schoolers

Discover the connection between a healthy meadow and a healthy community

This summer, SYRCL’s River Science and Education teams led three multi-day field science programs for local and Los Angeles based high school students to learn about watershed health, meadow ecosystems and work alongside SYRCL’s scientists to collect data.

All of the newly anointed scientists worked with SYRCL to collect data on day and overnight trips which supported our carbon budget research efforts, surface and groundwater hydrology, and vegetation, to name a few. These programs enable SYRCL’s River Science Team to better analyze how meadows respond to restoration actions after projects are complete.

Our Youth Outdoor Leadership Opportunity (YOLO) Program brought 12 local students from Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, and Yuba counties out into our headwater meadows to teach them about the meadow ecosystem, collect scientific data that is used to understand the benefits of meadow restoration, and spend a week outdoors.

SYRCL’s six-year partnership with Earthwatch Institute’s Ignite Program, a fully funded fellowship program designed to stimulate curiosity among young people for the world’s most pressing environmental and sustainability issues, enabled eight ambitious high school students from Los Angeles to join us in the field this summer. These eight students joined the SYRCL River Science Team for two weeks to study meadows, star gaze, and get more comfortable in the outdoors.

YOLO student participants and SYRCL staff

Sierra Nevada mountain meadows have been disturbed by historic land use activities such as forestry practices, mining, over-grazing, climate change and fire suppression. Because of their unique features, mountain meadows are areas of high species diversity, serving as a haven for many plants and animals. These meadows serve as carbon sinks, making them an important resource for carbon sequestration. Meadows collect rain and snow and store it underground, filtering water and slowly releasing it to lower elevations – in our case, the greater Yuba watershed and Sacramento River basin.

Throughout both the YOLO program and the Earthwatch Ignite Program, participants worked alongside experts to help develop real-world scientific skills. These expeditions aimed to allow students to cultivate an invaluable network of skills, experience and contacts in the scientific community. Over the last 6 years, SYRCL has brought nearly 100 students on Earthwatch or YOLO Expeditions, training the next generation of scientists.

SYRCL’s River Education Program engages students of all ages to learn about watershed health and aims to educate people to be informed, passionate stewards and lifelong advocates of the Yuba River watershed.

Learn more about SYRCL’s work on carbon sequestration

Many thanks to National Forest Foundation, Earthwatch Institute and Durfee Foundation for making this opportunity possible!

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