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Public Service Research Program

Photo: Students Learn about Aquatic Life

Students Learn about Aquatic Life

Return of the Salmon - Facilitating Partnerships for Watershed Education

Return of the Salmon is a multi-layered environmental education project, funded by US EPA to UC Davis from 1999 - 2002. Its purpose was to develop a community-based education project for upper elementary and middle school aged youth focused on the natural resources and cultural issues of Putah Creek, the local creek in the UC Davis region.

Through a series of inservice workshops and ongoing web based communication, school teachers teamed with environmental educators from various sites along Putah Creek to develop project-based interdisciplinary and integrated learning activities (curriculum units), using the creek (environment) as an integrating context. These educational activities engaged young students in inquiry oriented learning opportunities and included practical applications to encourage extended involvement in community environmental projects. In addition, UC Davis undergraduates participated as equal members of teams and served as role models for the younger students. The undergraduates received training in experiential education methods through the UCD Science Education Outreach Program.

At the end of the Return of the Salmon (ROS) project, we conducted a qualitative retrospective study on the impact of ROS on teacher, environmental educators and undergraduate self-reported practices and understanding of student-centeredness. Our research described the nature of these informal - formal partnerships and the impact on their practices (and on their students) as viewed by the participating educators. Also revealed was the importance of the university in facilitating and sustaining collaborations among formal and informal educators.

Project Challenge/Research Question: What were the effects of the formal-informal collaboration on participants? How did participants view the role of the university in facilitating their collaboration? What effects did participants think the collaborations had on student learning?

Liaison/Coordinator/Researcher: Kandace Knudson, Education PhD program

Additional Researchers:
Maureen McMahon, School of Education, former UCD faculty member.
Arinn Aanderud, Community Development Masters program
Larry Horvath, Education, PhD program
Susan Crider, Education, PhD program
Carmia Feldman, Education, PhD program
Susan O'Hara, Education, PhD program

Sites: Multiple sites along Putah Creek and one on Cache Creek, Solano and Yolo Counties, CA

Partners: Local school teachers and regional environmental educators, university faculty and students.

Associated Projects/Research: Professional development collaborative project, Return of the Salmon Curriculum, qualitative research project.

Project Time Line: 1999 - 2002

Funding: US EPA Environmental Education grant; UC Davis