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Engaging Latino Youth and Families in Water Resource Issues

The Issue

In Santa Barbara, the highest Latino population density is also where the creeks are the dirtiest from upstream sources. These polluted creeks drain into the Santa Barbara Channel, forcing beach closures. Like everyone else, many of the Latino community go to the beach and the kids play in the creeks.

It has been shown that Latinos are generally interested in environmental issues, and that they are particularly concerned about the health impact of a polluted environment. However, because of language and cultural issues, they are often not engaged in water protection activities.

What Has ANR Done?

Agua Pura (Pure Water), began in 1999 as a partnership of the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension's Give Water A Hand, Santa Barbara County UCCE 4-H Youth Development Program and Santa Barbara City College. Its goal was better understanding of how community educators and youth leaders can involve Latino youth and the Latino community in watershed protection and adaptation of resources to meet the community's needs and interests.

Agua Pura has been sustained by the Santa Barbara County 4-H Youth Development Program. It is assisting the county in meeting best practices under NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) guidelines.

The Payoff

Latino leadership developed around local watershed issues

Agua Pura has significantly contributed to engaging the Latino community in watershed resource issues:
--A six-week, hands-on after-school watershed education program that has graduated over 560 Latino children.
--Incorporation of watershed education into a nine-week summer day camp for over 1,200 Latino children from low-income families.
--The local Housing Authority, whose leadership is primarily Latino, has led in development and delivery of the ongoing "Splash to Trash" watershed education program. Sixty-two Latino young people from public housing have graduated from the program.
--Publication of the Agua Pura Leadership Institute Planning Manual (available on line at: http://www.uwex.edu/erc/apsummary.html).

Agua Pura has served as a model for Latino leadership development involving watershed resource issues at national conferences (Coastal Zone '99, NAAEE '01 and '02) and in professional journal articles.


Supporting Unit: Santa Barbara County

Michael Marzolla, 4-H Youth Development Advisor, Santa Barbara County UCCE,305 Camino del Remedio, Santa Barbara, CA 93110.
Phone:(805)692-1730 Email:ammarzolla@ucdavis.edu