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1st Place, “Blessed Stream,” Zabrina Urness, Sweetwater High School, Grade 10 winning photos

Sweetwater Authority Displays Winning Photos at Board Reception

Ten South Bay area high school students were honored for their winning photos at the March 11 Sweetwater Authority Governing Board meeting.

Nearly 100 students from Sweetwater’s service area entered its annual water photo contest, which challenges students to showcase the importance of water in everyday life through photography. Students submitted photos in two categories.

The following students took the top honors:

Color Photo Category:

1st Place, “Blessed Stream,” Zabrina Urness, Sweetwater High School, Grade 10

1st Place, “Blessed Stream,” Zabrina Urness, Sweetwater High School, Grade 10 winning photos

1st Place, “Blessed Stream,” Zabrina Urness, Sweetwater High School, Grade 10

2nd Place, “Pouring Out,” Stephanie Mauricio, Sweetwater High School, Grade 12

2nd Place, “Pouring Out,” Stephanie Mauricio, Sweetwater High School, Grade 12 winning photos

2nd Place, “Pouring Out,” Stephanie Mauricio, Sweetwater High School, Grade 12

3rd Place, “Running River Water,” Erick Gallardo II, Sweetwater High School, Grade 11

3rd Place, “Running River Water,” Erick Gallardo II, Sweetwater High School, Grade 11

3rd Place, “Running River Water,” Erick Gallardo II, Sweetwater High School, Grade 11

Honorable Mention, “An Apple a Day,” Jaliyah Journigan, Bonita Vista High School, Grade 11

Honorable Mention, “An Apple a Day,” Jaliyah Journigan, Bonita Vista High School, Grade 11

Honorable Mention, “An Apple a Day,” Jaliyah Journigan, Bonita Vista High School, Grade 11

Honorable Mention, “Aqueous Perspective,” Zabrina Urness, Sweetwater High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention, “Aqueous Perspective,” Zabrina Urness, Sweetwater High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention, “Aqueous Perspective,” Zabrina Urness, Sweetwater High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention, “Sun + Splash,” Kaitlyn Vu, Hilltop High School, Grade 11

Honorable Mention, “Sun + Splash,” Kaitlyn Vu, Hilltop High School, Grade 11

Honorable Mention, “Sun + Splash,” Kaitlyn Vu, Hilltop High School, Grade 11

Black & White Category:

1st Place, “Last Glass,” Tiffany Mayoral, Hilltop High School, Grade 11

1st Place, “Last Glass,” Tiffany Mayoral, Hilltop High School, Grade 11 winning photos

1st Place, “Last Glass,” Tiffany Mayoral, Hilltop High School, Grade 11

2nd Place, “Daily Utilities,” Carlos Guerrero, Sweetwater High School, Grade 9

2nd Place, “Daily Utilities,” Carlos Guerrero, Sweetwater High School, Grade 9 winning photos

2nd Place, “Daily Utilities,” Carlos Guerrero, Sweetwater High School, Grade 9

3rd Place, “Thirsty Tom,” Valeria Cano, Chula Vista High School, Grade 12

3rd Place, “Thirsty Tom,” Valeria Cano, Chula Vista High School, Grade 12

3rd Place, “Thirsty Tom,” Valeria Cano, Chula Vista High School, Grade 12

Honorable Mention, “My Memories,” and “Less Developed Countries,” Rosa Marquez, Chula Vista High School, Grade 10

“My Memories,” Rosa Marquez, Chula Vista High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention, “My Memories,” Rosa Marquez, Chula Vista High School, Grade 10

“Less Developed Countries,” Rosa Marquez, Chula Vista High School, Grade 10

“Less Developed Countries,” Rosa Marquez, Chula Vista High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention, “Drying Off,” Katherine Ochoa, Bonita Vista High School, Grade 11

Honorable Mention, “Drying Off,” Katherine Ochoa, Bonita Vista High School, Grade 11

Honorable Mention, “Drying Off,” Katherine Ochoa, Bonita Vista High School, Grade 11

Honorable Mention, “Floating,” Zabrina Urness, Sweetwater High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention, “Floating,” Zabrina Urness, Sweetwater High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention, “Floating,” Zabrina Urness, Sweetwater High School, Grade 10

All winning photos will be on display at the Bonita Museum and Cultural Center beginning in April.

READ MORE: Ten High School Photographers Honored by Helix Water District

 

Ten High School Photographers Honored by Helix Water District

Ten East County high school students were honored for their winning photos in the 2020 Helix Water District High School Photo Contest. The winning photographers were recognized at the February 26 board of directors meeting.

This year’s photo contest challenged high school photographers to highlight the importance and beauty of water in our everyday lives. Entrants were asked to show how water is used in homes and landscapes, in local businesses, for irrigating public spaces and parks, producing the goods we use and foods we eat, street cleaning, and firefighting.

Grossmont High School senior Avery McFedries won first place in the Color category. Photo: Helix Water District

Ten High School Photographers Honored by Helix Water District

Ten East County high school students were honored for their winning photos in the 2020 Helix Water District High School Photo Contest. The winning photographers were recognized at the February 26 board of directors meeting.

This year’s photo contest challenged high school photographers to highlight the importance and beauty of water in our everyday lives. Entrants were asked to show how water is used in homes and landscapes, in local businesses, for irrigating public spaces and parks, producing the goods we use and foods we eat, street cleaning, and firefighting.

Water flows through everything we do. Indoors, we use water for drinking, washing, cooking, and cleaning. Outdoors, we use water to fill our swimming pools, wash our cars and grow plants in our yards.

High school students living or attending school within Helix’s service area were eligible to enter, which includes La Mesa, Lemon Grove, El Cajon, Spring Valley, and areas of Lakeside. Sixty-nine students from three schools entered the annual competition.

First-place winners received a $150 cash prize; second place received $100; honorable mention received  $50.

The 2020 Helix Water District High School Photo Contest winners are:

Black & White Category

First Place – Rylee Koval, Santana High School, Grade 10

First Place – Rylee Koval, Santana High School, Grade 10

First Place – Rylee Koval, Santana High School, Grade 10

Second Place – Faith Farrell, Santana High School, Grade 12

Second Place – Faith Farrell, Santana High School, Grade 12

Second Place – Faith Farrell, Santana High School, Grade 12

Third Place – Bri Massaro, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Third Place – Bri Massaro, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Third Place – Bri Massaro, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention – Faith Rowe, Santana High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention – Faith Rowe, Santana High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention – Faith Rowe, Santana High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention – Mirna Dawood, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention – Mirna Dawood, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Honorable Mention – Mirna Dawood, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Color Category

First Place – Avery McFedries, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

First Place – Avery McFedries, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

First Place – Avery McFedries, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Second Place – Emily McCann, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Second Place – Emily McCann, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Second Place – Emily McCann, Grossmont High School, Grade 10

Third Place – Fernando Lara, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Third Place – Fernando Lara, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Third Place – Fernando Lara, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Honorable Mention – Jaqueline Aguilar, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Honorable Mention – Jaqueline Aguilar, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Honorable Mention – Jaqueline Aguilar, Grossmont High School, Grade 12

Honorable Mention – Daneca Perez Opinion, Grossmont High School, Grade 11

Honorable Mention – Daneca Perez Opinion, Grossmont High School, Grade 11

Honorable Mention – Daneca Perez Opinion, Grossmont High School, Grade 11

The winning photos will be on display through May at the district’s administration office at 7811 University Avenue in La Mesa. The photos are also posted on the district’s Facebook page.

READ MORE: Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve 2019 Photo Contest Winners Inspired By Nature

 

Sutherland Reservoir reopens for recreation in 2020 on Friday, March 6. Photo: City of San Diego

Sutherland Reservoir Opens For Recreation

The City of San Diego’s Sutherland Reservoir is now open to the public three days a week. The reservoir will be open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from sunrise to sunset, allowing access for boating, fishing, hiking and picnicking.

It will also open on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day and is closed the third Friday of each month.

The reservoir is about 45 miles northeast of San Diego at 22018 Sutherland Dam Road in Ramona.

People can hear an updated recorded message detailing current activities, schedules, fishing and hunting results at Sutherland Reservoir and other City of San Diego lakes by calling 619-465-FISH (619-465-3474).

Family activities include picnicking, fishing, and boating

Recreational activities at Sutherland Reservoir including boating, fishing, and picnicking. Photo: City of San Diego

Recreational activities at Sutherland Reservoir including boating, fishing, and picnicking. Photo: City of San Diego

Viviana Castellon, the City of San Diego’s reservoir maintenance supervisor,  said her team opened a little early this morning.

“The environment is beautiful, flora and fauna are raging,” said Castellon. “It’s a healthy environment biologically. It’s a backcountry reservoir, very inviting and relaxing. Depending on what you want to do, we have ADA accessibility. We expect people to have a great time at Sutherland,” said Castellon.

A bonus for spring visitors, Sutherland Reservoir is the midst of raptor mating season.

“Eagles are soaring, and we have peregrine falcons,” she said. “If people bring their binoculars, they’ll hear and see quite a bit.”

The recreation area features barbecues, picnic tables, and restrooms. Self-contained gas barbecues are allowed in the picnic area.

Water activities at Sutherland Reservoir include boating, canoeing, kayaking, sailboarding, and float tubing. Those activities are only allowed on Saturdays and Sundays. Leashed dogs are allowed. Turkey hunting at the reservoir is by reservation only, starting this year on March 30.

One of the most popular activities at Lake Sutherland is fishing. The lake contains largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, sunfish, and carp. Bowfishing is permitted for carp only, in compliance with California Department of Fish and Wildfire regulations. Special conditions apply and are listed on the City of San Diego’s website.

Swimming, ground fires, glass containers, and camping are not permitted. Take precautions to avoid rattlesnakes and poison oak, both of which are present at Sutherland Reservoir.

Maile Guerrero of La Mesa was honored for her photo of Sutherland Reservoir in the Water Authority's "Brought to You By Water' photo contest in 2018.

Maile Guerrero of La Mesa was honored for her photo of Sutherland Reservoir in the San Diego County Water Authority’s 2018 “Brought to You By Water” photo contest.

Construction on Sutherland Dam began in 1927, but it was not completed until 1954. The reservoir is operated and maintained by the City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department and is part of the city’s drinking water system.

For additional information about Sutherland Reservoir, including boating, fishing, and hunting rules, required permits, as well as details about the City’s other reservoirs, go to sandiego.gov/reservoirs-lakes.

Worst Climate Scenario Probably Won’t Happen, Scientists Say

One of the most fundamental questions in climate research asks the following: What will the world look like when we reach a certain point of warming?

How will it change after 2 degrees? 4 degrees? Even warmer?

More than a decade ago, scientists designed a set of hypothetical scenarios to help them model the climate. Their goal was to answer these very questions.

Opinion: Drink More Recycled Wastewater

Drinkable water is becoming increasingly scarce. Population growth, pollution and climate change mean that more cities are being forced to search for unconventional water sources. In a growing number of places, drinking highly treated municipal wastewater, called ‘reused water’, has become the best option — and, in some cases, the only one (see ‘What is reused water?’).

Fall fishing season is in full swing at San Diego County's reservoirs and lakes, including Lake Jennings. Photo: Helix Water District

Freshwater Fishing Flourishes at San Diego Region’s Reservoirs and Lakes

San Diego County’s freshwater fishing in area reservoirs and lakes managed by the region’s water agencies attracts expert anglers and beginners alike.

Of San Diego County’s 24 reservoirs and lakes, 18 allow fishing. Bryan Norris, Reservoirs and Recreation Program Manager for the City of San Diego, oversees eight locations offering recreational opportunities, including fishing.

“We are the largest provider of recreation for the domestic water supply in California,” said Norris. “No other program provides recreation at eight different reservoirs. The City of San Diego is considered a pioneer in these offerings. It’s really something that gets overlooked.”

Bass and bluegill are biting at San Diego reservoirs

Bluegill are plentiful at El Capitan Reservoir in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Photo: City of San Diego

Bluegill are plentiful at El Capitan Reservoir in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Photo: City of San Diego

What people often call lakes in the City of San Diego are actually water supply storage reservoirs and part of the City’s municipal water supply system operated by the City’s Public Utilities Department. The nine reservoirs are Barrett, El Capitan, Hodges, Lower Otay, Miramar, Murray, San Vicente, Sutherland, and Upper Otay. Lake Hodges, Sutherland, and Barrett Lake close during winter months; the remaining five are open year-round.

Lake Murray in La Mesa and Miramar Lake in Scripps Ranch are stocked regularly with trout by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The remaining fish species are self-sustaining, such as bass, catfish, bluegill, and crappie.

“We’re so well known for our bass fisheries at the city lakes,” said Norris. “We have multiple tournaments at our reservoirs, it’s our top fishery. They are serious, it’s like any organized sport.”

Trout most popular at Lake Jennings

Brian Pierce of El Cajon caught his limit of trout at Lake Jennings in March, and planned to return for the opening of fall trout season 2019 last weekend. Photo: Helix Water District

Brian Pierce of El Cajon caught his limit of trout at Lake Jennings in March and planned to return for the opening of fall trout season this year. Photo: Helix Water District

Lake Jennings in Lakeside, operated by the Helix Water District, opened its popular trout season November 15. It stocks 20,000 pounds of trout annually on a biweekly schedule between November and April, and 10,000 pounds of catfish in the summer months. It recently received 2,500 pounds of rainbow trout stock from Wright’s Rainbows in Thatcher, Idaho.

Helix Recreation Manager Kira Haley said she works closely with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine the correct timing for stocking the lake for eager fishing enthusiasts.

“If you don’t stock it, they won’t come,” said Haley. “We base the timing on water temperature for the trout, between November and April, when it’s low enough for trout to survive. When it’s not low enough, we stock catfish.”

In August, catfish were stocked at Lake Jennings. Photo: Helix Water DIstrict

In August, catfish were stocked at Lake Jennings. Photo: Helix Water District

In addition, large-mouth bass, red-ear sunfish, and bluegill, as well as channel and blue catfish live in Lake Jennings. Sign up for the Lake Jennings Fish Report online to see what fish are biting.

Haley says she enjoys her new role as a fisheries manager.

“I wouldn’t have called myself a fisherman before I got here,” said Haley. “I know more about fish than I ever thought I would know.

“It’s a very active community. They care so much about the lake and the health of the fish and the fisheries. It’s a great group of people to work with. Most fishermen are good stewards of the land itself. They see a piece of trash, they pick it up.”

Santee Lakes a popular family fishing stop

Santee Lakes, operated by the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, also stocks 12,500 pounds of trout and 24,000 pounds of catfish annually in the fall months for its anglers.

The catfish have been biting big this season at Santee Lakes. Photo: Courtesy Santee Lakes/Padre MWD

The catfish have been biting big this season at Santee Lakes. Photo: Courtesy Santee Lakes/Padre MWD

San Diego County’s year-round lakes also offer hiking, walking, biking, and picnicking.

Three of San Diego’s reservoirs (Lake Hodges, San Vicente, and El Capitan) allow windsurfing, water skiing, and the use of personal watercraft. Stand up paddle boarding was added this year at Lake Hodges. Barrett Lake and Lake Sutherland offer bird hunting.

Santee Lakes is among the county's most popular family recreation spots. Photo: Santee Lakes/Padre Dam MWD

Santee Lakes is among the county’s most popular family recreation spots. Photo: Santee Lakes/Padre Dam MWD

Norris hopes more people will visit and enjoy an escape from everyday urban life.

“There are so many reservoirs around the county that provide recreational opportunities; it’s unfortunate. Everyone thinks of beaches when they think of San Diego,” said Norris.

Stand up paddle boarding is a new activity now permitted at Lake Hodges. Photo: City of San Diego

Stand up paddle boarding is a new activity permitted at Lake Hodges. Photo: City of San Diego

Easier access to recreation information on new website

As part of an ongoing effort on making it easier for the public to access recreation information, the City of San Diego reservoir lakes website has been revised and enhanced.

The website features fishing, hunting, and recreation information, an interactive map, and a photo gallery. New graphics help anglers determine the types of fish available at the City’s reservoirs. Expanded details provide users with access to the fish catch report and details about boating and permits as well as employment and volunteer opportunities.

After a vote by Facebook followers the "People's Choice Award“ goes to "Red Jumping Spiderman” by Sabine Kurz-Sherman. Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve 2019 Photo Contest Winners Inspired by Nature

At its November 13 meeting, Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors recognized amateur photographers for their winning images captured in the 14th annual Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve photo contest.

“I am impressed with the quality of images and talent of Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve visitors,” said Bob Kephart, OMWD board secretary. “This year’s winning images put together a strong case for just how important it is to preserve open space for native habitat.”

Contest entries help to promote Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve and educate the public on the importance of wildlife and habitat protection. There were 84 entries in five categories: Scenic View, Water Scenery, Plants, Animals, and Youth (under 15 years of age).

The public also selected a People’s Choice Award winner by voting for their favorite photo from among 10 entries posted on the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve’s Facebook page.

Small details inspire 2019 Best In Show photographer

Best-in-Show winner Francesca Hummler explained to the board, “I fell in love with photography in high school as a darkroom assistant. I particularly enjoy macro photography, a style which I found suited the color and repetition of the plant in my photograph well.”

See all seven winners:

“Paint Brushes” by Francesca Hummler – Best in Show

“Paint Brushes” by Francesca Hummler received this year's "Best in Show" award. Courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District Elfin Forest 2019 Photo Contest

“Paint Brushes” by Francesca Hummler received this year’s Best in Show award. Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“Misty Morning Over Lake” by Jeff Brock – Scenic View

“Misty Morning Over Lake” by Jeff Brock won in the Scenic View category. Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District Elfin Forest 2019 Photo Contest

“Misty Morning Over Lake” by Jeff Brock won in the Scenic View category. Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“Behind the Grass” by Daniel Humphrey – Water Scenery

“Behind the Grass” by Daniel Humphrey won in the Water Scenery category. Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District Elfin Forest 2019 Photo Contest

“Behind the Grass” by Daniel Humphrey won in the Water Scenery category. Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“Shine Bright” by Maria Ana Karina Lara – Plants

“Shine Bright” by Maria Ana Karina Lara is the winner in the "Plants" category. Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District Elfin Forest 2019 Photo Contest

“Shine Bright” by Maria Ana Karina Lara is the Plants category winner. Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“Western Fence Lizard” by Karen Wood – Animals

The "Animals" category winner is taken by “Western Fence Lizard” by Karen Wood. Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District

The Animals category winner is “Western Fence Lizard” by Karen Wood. Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“New World” by Stella Klins – Youth

This year's Youth category winner is Stella Klins for "New World." Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District Elfin Forest 2019 Photo Contest

This year’s Youth category winner is Stella Klins for “New World.” Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

“Red Jumping Spiderman” by Sabine Kurz-Sherman – People’s Choice

After a vote by Facebook followers the "People's Choice Award“ goes to "Red Jumping Spiderman” by Sabine Kurz-Sherman. Photo: Courtesy Olivenhain Municipal Water District Elfin Forest 2019 Photo Contest

After a vote by Olivenhain’s Facebook followers the “People’s Choice Award“ was “Red Jumping Spiderman” by Sabine Kurz-Sherman. Photo courtesy: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Prizes included tickets donated by San Diego Zoo, a 24” x 36” canvas print donated by PC Photo & Imaging, outdoor equipment donated by REI, and a $100 cash prize donated by contest partner Escondido Creek Conservancy.

All of this year’s winning photographs will be on display from January 1 to April 30, 2020, at the Interpretive Center Honoring Susan J. Varty located in the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve’s staging area.

READ MORE: San Diego Grown Photo Contest Highlights Agriculture

Lake Jennings staff including Recreation Manager Kira Haley (front row, fifth from left) rely on their dedicated volunteers including Lori Stangel (front row, sixth from left). Photo: Helix Water District

Volunteer Opportunities at Water Agency Reservoirs in San Diego County

People around the world know the San Diego region for its beautiful setting along the Pacific Ocean. But visitors, and even many local residents, aren’t aware of the recreational activities available year-round at area reservoirs.

There are 24 reservoirs in San Diego County. Of these, there are 18 fishable lakes and some offer overnight camping. Popular activities also include boating, kayaking, hiking, and picnicking.

Lake Jennings Reservoir, east of El Cajon, is called a “hidden jewel.” Lake Jennings Recreation Manager Kira Haley admits she didn’t know much about the lake even though she grew up in nearby La Mesa.

“It’s a beautiful resource, and it’s so close to home,” said Haley.

Volunteers help maintain the Lake Jennings campsites, which include five tipis. Photo: Helix Water DIstrict

Volunteers help maintain the Lake Jennings campsites, which include five tipis. Photo: Helix Water District

Volunteers help Lake Jennings operations become self-sustaining

Haley arrived in December 2014 with the goal of making the Lake Jennings self-sustaining. Recent park upgrades and an aggressive outreach program have attracted new visitors. The Helix Water District considered closing the park due to financial losses. But in 2018, Lake Jennings Park made a profit for the first time.

Onsite volunteers make a significant contribution to park operations. Onsite volunteers live full-time at Lake Jennings in campers and trailers in exchange for campsite space and electricity. They perform key roles by staffing the information and registration kiosk, monitoring and maintaining the 97 campsites, answering questions, and responding on-call 24 hours. All volunteers receive training in first aid and evacuation procedures.

“We find the volunteers through word of mouth or regular campers who retire,” said Haley. “Some work other jobs and still volunteer 24 hours each week. Their backgrounds are varied. Some have been with us for many years.”

Visitors can enjoy hiking year-round at Lake Jennings. Trail maps are available from volunteers at the campground kiosk. Photo: Helix Water District

Visitors can enjoy hiking year-round at Lake Jennings. Trail maps are available from volunteers at the campground kiosk. Photo: Helix Water District

Eight campsites are home to the volunteers, whether individuals or couples. Haley is currently recruiting new volunteers. The Helix Water District oversees the hiring process. Applications are now available on the Helix Water District website jobs page.

“It’s wonderful to live in a place like this in a natural open space situation,” said Haley. “There is a grocery store a mile away, but when you’re here, you feel like you’re in the wilderness. Everyone who comes out here is looking to have a great time. It makes for a wonderful work environment.”

Retired teacher puts her experience to work at Lake Jennings

Volunteer Lori Stangel arrived at Lake Jennings five years ago intending to stay six months, but is still a dedicated onsite volunteer host. Photo: Helix Water District

Intending to stay six months, Lori Stangel has worked as an onsite volunteer host for five years. Photo: Helix Water District

Retired kindergarten teacher Lori Stangel returned to her native San Diego after working in Arizona. She and her husband Chuck found a notice online about Lake Jennings volunteer opportunities and thought the six-month assignment would provide an ideal transition. Five years later, the Stangels are still living and working at Lake Jennings.

“I love nature, and I love being outdoors,” said Lori Stangel. “I love working with the public, and I work for the best staff and administration at Helix you can imagine. They make me feel welcome; it means a lot to me.”

Stangel puts her 30 years of experience as an educator into her volunteer role.

“I get to educate people and families about nature through the outdoors,” said Stangel. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for retired people, but also for young people. They can still go to school or work part-time. It’s a win-win. I’m here because I love it.”

As a Ms. California Senior America pageant competitor, Stangel also spreads the word about Lake Jennings as a valued environmental resource in her personal advocacy platform.

Additional San Diego County Water Authority member agency recreational facilities with volunteer opportunities include Santee Lakes, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, and Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, Olivenhain Municipal Water District.

The 2017 Spring Garden and Butterfly Festival at The Water Conservation Garden. Photo: Water Conservation Garden

Water Conservation Garden Awarded SDG&E Environmental Champion Grant

The Water Conservation Garden’s Ms. Smarty-Plants program received a $25,000 Environmental Champion Grant in June from SDG&E.

The award comes as The Garden, at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon, celebrates its 20th anniversary.

“SDG&E has been a long-time supporter of The Garden and its innovative Ms. Smarty-Plants education program,” said Jennifer Pillsbury, executive director/CEO of The Water Conservation Garden. “In fact, SDG&E was one of the first funders to provide seed funding that allowed the program to have the widespread impact it has today. We are grateful for their support.”

Support from water agencies help fund innovative education program

Support from the San Diego County Water Authority and from several other water agencies also was critical to establishing and growing the program, which reached over 80,000 children and adults a year by 2016.

The six-acre garden is governed by an independent, nonprofit board of directors and receives funding from the San Diego County Water Authority, City of San Diego, Cuyamaca College, Helix Water District, Otay Water District and the Sweetwater Authority. Memberships, donations, grants, facility rentals and gift shop sales also support The Garden.

Conservation education program in 11th year

Water agencies created The Garden to demonstrate water conservation techniques and to provide environmental education.

“In its 11th year, the Ms. Smarty-Plants programs have touched nearly 350,000 children and adults, focusing on youth from disadvantaged communities who have limited access to safe nature spaces,” Pillsbury added.

Pam Meisner is Ms. Smarty-Plants

Pam Meisner started the conservation program in 2008 at the Water Conservation Garden. Photo: The Water Conservation Garden

Pam Meisner, also known as Ms. Smarty-Plants, started the conservation program in 2008. Meisner is a lifelong educator with more than 30 years teaching experience advocating for fun and interactive learning in nature as well as bringing conservation into the classroom.

Upcoming events at The Water Conservation Garden

  • August 23: Nature Nights with Ms. Smarty-Plants
  • August 24: Water System Consultation with Brook Sarson of CatchingH2O/H2OME
  • September 28: Backyard Composting Workshop

On November 16, The Garden is hosting a 20th anniversary concert. The event begins at 5:00 pm with a reception featuring food and drink stations, music and unique auction items.

For more information on these and other events go to:  https://thegarden.org/events/