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The 4-H Agua Pura fotonovela project

The Issue

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, and Santa Barbara County UCCE 4-H Youth Development Program. The Santa Barbara County 4-H Youth Development Program has sustained the program. It is assisting the county in meeting best practices under NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) guidelines by developing culturally appropriate Spanish language educational materials and curriculum. Recently, with the support of a graduate internship from California Communities Program and with funds from the County of Santa Barbara Water Agency, Agua Pura developed a fotonovela (a comic-book style photo-illustrated booklet) titled “Carlos y el Agua Limpia” (Carlos & Clean Water). The fotonovela was developed by Agua Pura staff in consultation with members of the local Latino community. (See a sample here.)

The Payoff

4-H fotonovela reaches Latino families

For the past 10 years the Agua Pura program has contributed to engaging the Latino community in watershed resource issues:
  • Nearly 2,000 copies of Carlos y el Agua Limpia have been distributed throughout Santa Barbara County to Spanish-speaking residents
  • At the request of the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, the fotonovela is being re-printed and distributed to their residents
The Agua Pura Fotonovela Project has served as a model for developing culturally appropriate watershed education materials. The process and success of the fotonovela has been shared at statewide, national and International professional conferences.


Supporting Unit: 4-H Youth Development Program

California Communities Program
Michael Marzolla, 805)692-1735, ammarzolla@ucdavis.edu