Youth Stewards Initiative

Young Stewards Program Fosters Awareness in Local Teens

landsmart for kids logoLandSmart™ for Kids brings students, teachers, land-managers, community volunteers, and natural resource professionals together to pair on-the-ground restoration and stewardship projects with ecology lessons to provide a memorable environmental education experience. The Young Stewards Initiative is geared toward providing high school students, our decisionmakers of the future, with an in-depth opportunity to implement a restoration project and learn about working agricultural lands.

Classes “adopt” a restoration project and return to the area up to 5 times during the year to implement multiple components of a project and to develop a familiarity with the site and the goals of the land manager. One such project was American Canyon High’s Stanly Ranch Restoration Project, during which the students planted native vegetation, learned about wetland soils and ecology, measured salinity in the water, learned about fish of the Napa River, and dissected owl pellets to learn about raptors. Projects like these foster a connection between students and the environment while simultaneously protecting and improving the quality and diversity of Napa County’s working landscapes.

Funding for project generously provided by North Bay Watershed Association, J.L. Davies Ag Fund, Napa Valley Community Foundation, Mead Foundation, Treasury Wine Estates and private donors.

More information for Landowners and Student Groups

What is LandSmart for Kids?

LandSmart for Kids is an outdoor experiential educational program offered by the Napa County Resource Conservation District (RCD). The program brings students, teachers, land managers, community volunteers, and natural resource professionals together to pair on-the-ground ecological restoration and stewardship projects with in-class ecology lessons to provide a memorable environmental education experience. LandSmart for Kids enhances the students’ knowledge of the local environment, demonstrates how natural resources can be managed to the benefit of agriculture and the environment, and builds leadership and communication skills. Depending on their age and abilities, students spend one to five fieldtrip days doing restoration activities and ecological exploration at a local vineyard, ranch, or open-space property.

The success of the program depends on landowners that understand the importance of sharing how productive lands and thriving streams can go hand in hand. The RCD seeks landowners who are planning a restoration project that would benefit from student participation.

What kind of restoration activities can kids do?

LandSmart Kids can implement many types of restoration projects and RCD staff seeks to find the best fit for participating landowners, teachers, and students. For example, RCD has worked with students to collect seeds, install native plants, remove invasive plants, control weeds, install irrigation, and build bird boxes. Students are provided instruction and supervision during field trips to ensure that they perform high quality work.

What role does RCD staff serve in the partnership?

RCD staff coordinates with landowners, restoration professionals, and students to schedule field trips and set field trip agendas. RCD staff facilitates the field days, recruits mentors and resource specialists to participate in field trips, provides food, and facilitates ecology lessons.  

What role do Landowners serve in the partnership?

Landowners provide the field trip site and restoration project (including supplies). Landowners also maintain the project after the students leave. Landowners may choose to get involved more deeply in the program by attending planning meetings with RCD staff and the participating teacher; attending the first field day to meet the students and introduce them to the site; attending additional field days throughout the school year; and providing lunch and snacks for students.

By working alongside the students, landowners have an opportunity to share their knowledge and connection with their land. Students benefit from seeing how landowners care for their land, and they take this information back to their schools and homes.

Do Landowners assume any risk associated with field trips?

Liability related to transportation to and from the field days is covered by the school districts and bus companies. The school districts’ insurance also covers all school-sanctioned field trips, which includes LandSmart fieldtrips.

How can I learn more?

Contact Eric McKee at (707) 252-4188 x111 or eric@naparcd.org.