Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) has been awarded a three year NOAA Bay-Watershed and Training Grant Award for the implementation of a new and exciting environmental science program titled ‘Ventura River Action Network (V-RAN) in partnership with the MERITO Foundation and with additional support from the U.C. Davis Center for Community and Citizen Science and Ventura Water.
The V-RAN program is an adaptation of MERITO Foundation’s EECCOA program for VUSD science teachers and focuses on monitoring and restoring the Ventura River Watershed to support the removal of the Matilija Dam. This work will be done in collaboration with local and state environmental organizations.
V-RAN will provide free professional development field training, webinars, and science curriculum and stipends to eight science teachers per school year and live and virtual environmental monitoring experiences for their 600-750 middle and high school students at Ventura River watershed and coast. The program will also include a STEM competition called ‘the EECCOA Challenge’ for students to design methods to reduce the environmental footprint of their school campus, with cash prizes for the authors of top projects.
The 158-foot-high Matilija Dam blocks a tributary of the Ventura River about 16 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Built in 1947, the dam has outlived its usefulness, and sediment fills almost its entire reservoir. With support from state and private funding, including the Open Rivers Fund program of Resources Legacy Fund, local stakeholders are working with dam owner Ventura County Watershed Protection District to plan, design, and finance the dam’s removal. The removal of the Matilija Dam will benefit the community by addressing old, out-of-date infrastructure, expanding outdoor recreation opportunities, restoring habitat for steelhead trout, and enabling needed sediment to move downstream to beaches.
VUSD is now recruiting eight middle and high school science teachers to participate in the V-RAN 2021-2022 program. For more details or information on enrolling, contact Bret Klopfenstein, VUSD Science Specialist at email@example.com, or Rocio.Lozano@meritofoundation.org.