In honor of Earth Day, The City of Ventura recognizes two schools for their outstanding sustainability and water wise efforts. Environment Sustainability Division has partnered with Agromin Premium Soil Products to present Environmental Leadership Award. Ventura Water presents the Watershed Hero Award. To apply for this year’s Green School Awards, please complete the online application or written application by March 31, 2017. Winners will receive $500 and be recognized in front of the City Council! All public and private schools within the Ventura City limits are encouraged to apply. Find out more and ENTER, click here.
Meet the 2015-2016 Watershed Hero Award Winner — Mound Elementary School!
Mound Elementary converted 1,600 square feet of turf into a native plant garden and built an aquaponics greenhouse. They also recycle milk cartons and compost food waste through the pilot lunch-waste recycling program! Congratulations!
In recognition and support of local environmental efforts, on Monday, December 15, 2014, Ventura Mayor Cheryl Hetimann, on behalf of the City of Ventura’s Environmental Sustainability Division, Ventura Water, E.J. Harrison & Sons, and Agromin Premium Soil Products (Agromin), presented the 2014 Green School Award to Lincoln Elementary School, and the 2014 Watershed Hero Award to Loma Vista Elementary School.
The Watershed Hero Award was presented to Loma Vista Elementary for converting their school front entryway into a water wise Ocean Friendly Garden complete with a rainwater capture system, bioswales and drought tolerant California native plants.
“We’re so grateful for our ‘Watershed Hero Award,” said Marlene McMullen, Principal, Loma Vista Elementary School. “Changing out the front area of our school with an Ocean Friendly Garden was truly a community effort. We would also not have this gorgeous garden if it wasn’t for all the help and support of the many sponsors and supporters.
In early 2014, Loma Vista Elementary School was chosen as the recipients of Midtown Ventura Community Council’s 2014 Adopt-A-School Project. The Midtown Ventura Community Council, a non-profit organization formed by citizens of Midtown Ventura in 1997 to help improve our community.
“We had an iconic 90-foot high diseased Monterey pine tree in our front yard that was dying,” said McMullen. “We really needed to remove it, but because the tree was the focal point of the school, we knew if it was removed, the children would miss it. At the same time, the Midtown Ventura Community Council told us that we were chosen as their ‘Adopt-A-School Project for 2014.’ Everything just grew from there. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Working with the Council, it was decided that we’d do a comprehensive redesign and install a California Coastal Native and Ocean Friendly Garden that would be both water efficient in addition to being a special place that students and faculty could enjoy.”
Local landscape architect Brian Brodersen, designer of the OFG landscape for Will Rogers Elementary School, drew up plans for the Loma Vista redesign. Jesse Doty, Senior Project Manager for Clark Construction also volunteered his time, and contributed staff and equipment to help with the job.
Ojai Quarry’s Larry Mosler donated $2,000 worth of rock for the garden. Surfrider Foundation and the City’s Ventura Water Department also donated staff and money for the purchase of native plants. As part of the City’s Environmental Sustainability Division, every student has received a classroom presentation on waste reduction, water conservation and watershed pollution prevention.
Work on the garden began on May 17, 2014, and for seven full work days from May until September, students, parents, faculty, and community members removed turf, weeded, rototilled, graded the land, sheet mulched, placed rocks and boulders, hand-crafted benches, re-directed the rain downspout system into large bioswale gardens that slow the flow of water, allowing it to sink into the ground, and planted native plants.
“It really does take a village!” said McMullen. “We had over 200 volunteers on the project,” said McMullen. “In honor of everyone’s efforts and hard work, and to show our sincere appreciation for everything done on our school’s behalf, we plan to acknowledge all our donors and contributors with a special plaque that will be placed in the garden.”
Changing out their landscape for an Ocean Friendly Garden will allow for continued student education regarding sustainable gardens. Additionally, the school anticipates a reduced water bill, as these gardens rely on rainwater, not potable drinking water.
“There’s a paradigm shift happening with how we need to think about our lawns and landscapes,” said City of Ventura Environmental Specialist Jill Santos. “The California drought has helped accelerate this shift, and for a sustainable future, we all need to do our part. Emphasis is being placed on thinking green with water wise gardens, capturing rain water from our roofs in rain barrels, and appropriately placing bioswales in our landscapes to capture rain water, allowing it to flow and sink in to our landscapes vs. running off into the street where it picks up a variety of pollutants which get carried into our oceans and rivers.
Kudos to the school district, Midtown Council and to Loma Vista Elementary School, for providing this amazing opportunity for Ventura students and their families to learn about the importance of implementing these sustainable, water-saving initiatives.”
–Maryann Ridini Spencer for SustainableVentura.TV
In celebration of America Recycles Day, and in an ongoing effort to support local environmental efforts, on Monday, December 15, 2015, at the start of the City Council meeting, Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann presented the 2014 Green School Award to Lincoln Elementary School, and the 2014 Watershed Hero Award to Loma Vista Elementary School on behalf of the City of Ventura’s Environmental Sustainability Division, Ventura Water, E.J. Harrison & Sons and Agromin Premium Soil Products.
For the past eight years, the Green School Award has been presented to a deserving Ventura school that has demonstrated exemplary efforts in helping to preserve the sustainability of our environment. This year, Lincoln Elementary School was chosen for their active recycling efforts, which include a thriving CRV/Beverage Recycling Collection program that raises funds for their school, and for their Food Waste Composting and Recycling Program that helps to keep waste and trash out of the landfill. Other eco-friendly programs at Lincoln include a garden food-producing program providing produce for the students to take home and continuing student /faculty environmental education efforts.
For the second year in a row, The Watershed Hero Award was presented to Loma Vista Elementary for converting their school front entryway into a water wise Ocean Friendly Garden complete with a roof rainwater capture system, bioswales and drought tolerant plants.
“Both Lincoln Elementary and Loma Vista Elementary show commitment to our city, community and school district by continuing to preserve and enhance Ventura’s beautiful and natural environment,” said Mayor Heitmann. “We’re extremely grateful to our award sponsors, E.J. Harrison & Sons and Agromin Premium Soil Products as well as Ventura Water for supplying the schools with cash prizes and the beautifully crafted glass awards.”
On November 18, 2013, in a special ceremony before the Ventura City Council and coinciding with the presentation of the 2013 Green School Award to EP Foster Elementary School for spearheading efforts for the first full-scale recycling and food waste diversion program within the Ventura Unified School District, Ventura Water’s General Manager Shana Epstein and Mayor Mike Tracy presented Will Rogers Elementary School with the NEW Watershed Hero Award for creating wildlife habitats on their campus and reducing stormwater flows with the installation of a new bioswale. Watch the “Sustainable Ventura News” video about Will Rogers Elementary School’s environmental programs.
Visit: VenturaWater.net and VenturaWater.org
Also visit: SustainableVentura.TV
Students at Will Rogers Elementary School will learn from a living laboratory created on their campus last summer with the help of Midtown Ventura Community Council’s Adopt-A-School Project for 2013. To help prevent stormwater pollution and urban runoff, this partnership project replaced some of the school’s hard surfaces with an Ocean Friendly Garden, complete with a linear “bioswale.” A lesson in how Mother Nature cleans and returns water to the ground, the school’s bioswale, with its sloped sides and a depressed area filled by rocks, native vegetation, mulch and organic compost, will retain stormwater and trap pollutants and silt that would otherwise would travel to the ocean.
On Wednesday, October 2, the City of Ventura Fire Department joined Will Rogers Elementary School and other local community members to commemorate the newly landscaped areas, and to demonstrate how the new bioswale operates by releasing 500 gallons of water into the swale.
“The Midtown Ventura Community Council approached our PTA and teacher leaders with an opportunity to bring the bioswale project to our school,” said Will Rogers Elementary School Principal Danielle Cortes. “We worked as a team with the Ventura Unified School District facilities and leadership and involved the students and making everyone understand the importance of the bioswale — that it’s not just a garden and that it’s here to help keep our ocean clean.”
“We’re very excited that the Will Rogers Elementary School has been surrounded by the community,” said Trudy Arriaga, Superintendent, Ventura Unified School District. “As a result we have a beautiful example of community partnership at a bio-science academy with the children able to see how these natural systems work.”
The Midtown Ventura Community Council’s first Adopt-A-School Project began in 2011 with the painting of Blanche Reynolds Elementary Rainbow Ridge Playground. Solar lights were also installed in the playground.
“The idea of the Adopt-A-School Project was originally implemented to show the community, the schools, and the children, that the community cares about them. It’s something we could do to show our support as well as give the students pride in their school during these rough economic times,” said Dan Long, Board member of the Midtown Ventura Community Council Adopt-A-School Project.
Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Garden Committee donated funds and many volunteers to work on the garden and bioswale.
“It’s all part of a focus of restoring the Sanjon watershed,” said Paul Herzog, Coordinator for Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Program. “This area, which is actually a creek that has been covered up by hard surfaces, drains right out into the ocean. So, the more that we can do to on all these hard sites to sponge up water, to hold onto water and filter it, the more chance we have to maybe restore some of these creeks and have them flow again.”
The bioswale project was completed in two stages. In the first stage, Landscape Architect Brian Brodersen retrofitted the existing school garden turning this area into an Ocean Friendly Garden. The mature fruit trees were kept in place, native plants were planted and a path was added with a 100-foot long bioswale to capture the stormwater, which formerly ran into the street.
The second stage consisted of removing 300 square feet of asphalt to build a large swale. This large swale was enhanced with native plants and rocks.
A thank you and round of applause at the event was given to Will Roger’s First grade teacher, Kris Guzman, who was instrumental in facilitating the day’s activities. She was also acknowledged for her ongoing involvements with other programs to help green the school including securing a U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Grant.
In addition to the Midtown Ventura Community Council and Surfrider Foundation, other community members that played a key role in the bioswale project were: The Ventura Unified School District Board of Directors, Administrators and Maintenance Supervisors, Will Rogers PTA, David Ferrin, Arketype Architects, Ojai Quarry, EJ. Harrison & Sons, Ventura Rental Center, ZDwellings Construction’s Green Builder Jeff Zimmerman and Terry Leach, Agromin, M&M Landscapes, G3 Gardens Group, and City of Ventura Enviornmental Sustainability Division and Ventura Water .
For more information, visit Will Rogers’ Gardens at: http://wrgardens.net
-Maryann Ridini Spencer for SustainableVentura.TV
The Ventura City Council presented the seventh annual Green School Award for achievement in environmental excellence to students at EP Foster and Will Rogers Elementary Schools during its public meeting on Monday, November 18, at 6 pm, at City Hall, 501 Poli Street, during the national celebration of America Recycles Day.
This year’s winners, students at EP Foster and Will Rogers Elementary Schools, created programs that increase recycling, build wildlife habitats, and reduce stormwater flows while identifying and reducing the impacts that their choices have on the environment.
“Over the years many public and private schools in Ventura have been doing great things to help our environment,” said Jill Sarick Santos, the Environmental Sustainability Division Specialist who coordinates the awards. “Every year since 2007 the City of Ventura has recognized and encouraged those school efforts through nominations and selection of competitive annual ‘Green School’ award winners in partnership with Agromin Premium Soil Products and EJ Harrison & Sons, Inc., which provide the annual $500 cash award.”
Students and staff at EP Foster Elementary School spearheaded efforts for the first full-scale recycling and food waste diversion program within Ventura Unified School District (VUSD), reducing the amount of trash bags thrown away daily from 44 to just 7. EP Foster custodian, cafeteria manager, students and faculty have set an example which all other schools in the District will eventually follow. In recognition of their efforts, the City will present them with the 2013 Green School Award.
Students at Will Rogers Elementary School have capped and abandoned one entire irrigation zone, removed the turf and have created a schoolyard habitat where teachers lead lessons on math, science, and reading. They removed 500 square feet of asphalt to build a bio-swale that reduces stormwater pollution. For this reason, Ventura Water presented them with the Green School 2013 Watershed Hero award.
This release is available on the City of Ventura website at www.cityofventura.net
Contact: Jill Sarick Santos, (805) 652-4501 and Lysa Urban (805) 677-3914
VIEW the Sustainable Ventura News Story about Will Rogers Elementary School’s bioswale.