Point Blue Conservation Science’s STRAW program (Students & Teachers Restoring A Watershed) implements community-based restoration projects, engaging more than 3000 students annually in hands-on restoration across California. Since beginning in 1994, STRAW has restored more than 36 miles of streams and educated 50,000 students, all free of charge to teachers thanks to generous support from partners, funders and donors.
Today, as climate change impacts both wildlife and human communities world wide, climate smart restoration is becoming recognized as an important strategy for healing landscapes and increasing human health. The goal of climate smart restoration, a growing field of ecological restoration, is to prepare landscapes for the impacts of climate change by increasing habitat resilience and engaging local communities. In this presentation we’ll explore guiding principles of climate smart restoration, current science and exemplary projects where people and places are being restored together. In addition to highlighting projects across California, we’ll explore our experiences engaging diverse communities and practicing culturally relevant teaching — a pedagogical framework to make restoration science and conservation topics relevant to the culture and lived experiences of the students and communities we engage. In a time of civil discord, a global health crisis and rapid climate change, climate smart restoration is emerging as a solution for many challenges.