Environmental health initiative, focusing on Latino communities
Elaine initiated the Agua Pura Leadership Institute in collaboration with Santa Barbara, CA County Extension, to provide support for youth leaders who can involve Latino youth in understanding local water quality issues and local water protection. The Institute focused on local watershed issues, strategies to involve the Latino community, and how resources should be adapted to local needs and interests. A Planning Manual, with content pilot-tested as part of the Institute, describes the development process. The Manual is intended to serve as a model for others wishing to engage in a community-based environmental planning initiative.
The Institute process was designed in collaboration with University of California Cooperative Extension-Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara City College, County public health and water agencies, and Santa Barbara Latino and environmental groups. The project was funded by USDA.
The Institute relied on local expertise to address environmental science, the arts, computer resources, youth qualities, and education processes. Education resources such as Give Water a Hand, Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (GREEN), Adopt-A-Watershed, and California Aquatic Science Education Consortium (CASEC) served as the foundation for improving understanding of how to involve local youth in watershed protection. Latino community leaders and other community members were involved in learning to use these materials and then analyzed how the materials could be adapted for local use.
Agua Pura continues: Relying on a small army of local college students led by one of the participants in the pilot Leadership Institute, Agua Pura continues to involve Latino youth and youth leaders throughout Santa Barbara County in workshops, camp programs, and after-school activities.