Escondido Super Stewards Serving and protecting our local watershed

"Kids can make a difference. we can't always wait for adults to do the work. sometimes, we have to do things ourselves."-Manuel
"Everybody is responsible for taking care of the Earth.They need to clean up, pick up trash, and do more things."-Joel
"These experiences changed the way I think."-Ricardo


The Escondido Super Stewards, a crew of ninety 4th grade students and 3 dedicated teachers, are committed environmentalists and advocates of their local watershed.

These Super Stewards are one of the many epic crews at Conway Elementary, a K-5 public school in the Escondido Union School District located in north San Diego County. Conway's vision is, "All learners discover their unlimited potential through excellence, perseverance, integrity and compassion." To cultivate this vision, Conway became a specialty school in the district and are proud to be partnered with EL Education, formerly known as Expeditionary Learning. This model empowers students to achieve more than they think possible, ties academic rigor with character building, and helps students make real-world connections that inspire them to be E.P.I.C. (Excellence, Perseverance, Integrity, Compassion) citizens of their community.


The excitement began after being chosen as one of EL Education's Better World Projects. The students wanted the world to understand the importance of a clean watershed. Seeing themselves and their teachers in the news empowered them to believe that they could make a better world.

"I felt good knowing I was doing something Good for our Earth."-Alejandra


Growing up in an urban area often leaves too few experiences with nature. The fourth grade teachers at Conway Elementary wanted their students to see that they were part of something much bigger than the city in which they live. As a previously underperforming school, they knew their students were capable of more than they thought possible. Through careful planning and help from local conservancies (The Escondido Creek Conservancy, The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, San Diego Zoo), the fourth grade teachers were able to design a sequence of learning investigations that would inspire their students to see themselves as citizen scholars and turn learning into a purposeful, engaging, and fun experience.

Students hike through the watershed, learn from experts, and document their field experiences.

"We can make a better place by cleaning up the creek and testing the water quality. People have to stop throwing plastic and trash in the creek and the streets because it affects the animals that live in our watershed."-Carlos


This project gave the students opportunities to not only get out and explore their surrounding environment, but it allowed them to see themselves as stewards of the earth. They began to understand their role and responsibility in taking action to make their world a better place to live, now and in the future. Through fieldwork and research, they were able to see their community through new eyes. This deeper learning inspired them to participate in a variety of service learning projects throughout their community. As Super Stewards, they are vested in taking care of the environment and also acting compassionately towards others.

"I like learning from the experts. Doing fieldwork helped me understand my watershed."-Camila

Mastery of Skills and Content

This project guided students through the process of becoming field scientists. They studied the watershed through multiple field experiences that took them from the top of the Escondido Creek Watershed, through their city of Escondido, and out to the Pacific Ocean. They tested the water quality at several locations throughout the creek, they collected data, and were provided with hands on learning experiences where they began to realize that their watershed had many critical issues. They grappled with the causes and possible solutions to help restore the balance of the creek.

To find out more information students conducted research, read books and articles, and interviewed field scientists. They learned how scientists communicate their findings so that everyone can learn from their research. The students created presentations, posters, and a field guide to help others learn about their watershed.

Students collect and record data and observations throughout the watershed.

Trout in the Classroom

Students took part in an eight week expedition where they learned all about trout. They studied trout habitat, life cycle, and anatomy in order to become expert trout keepers. They also delved deeply into the critical issues facing the endangered Southern Steelhead Trout within their local watershed.

Students Observe as young fry swim freely for the First Time
Conway students, through funding from The Escondido Creek Conservancy (made possible by SDG&E's Environmental Champions grant), were able to raise trout from egg to fry and release them into Lake Miramar.

"I think about how it was twenty years ago. Imagine...Is the Earth better or is the Earth worse?"-Zonia


At Conway our school focus is on 4 Norms which are Excellence, Perseverance, Integrity, and Compassion (E.P.I.C.) These norms incorporate scholarly attributes and active citizenship and were present throughout the journey of this project.

The goal of this project is for the students to develop their awareness of the habitats and environmental issues that directly impact their community. Students research and share their findings with community members. They had to read and understand complex text, research, communicate in writing, and develop presentations and proposals. Through this process, scholarly and active citizen E.P.I.C. traits flourished as they developed a sense of truly being part of community and now see themselves as having a role to ensure that the environment is safe and able to be enjoyed for future generations.

Students explored the local government's role in protecting the environment and researched initiatives that were being proposed by the state in upcoming elections. They realized, if you are passionate about something, there are many ways to get involved.

Students take action by supporting ballot initiatives, participating in site clean ups, and helping to repopulate the trout by raising trout to release back into the watershed.

"I felt like I mattered. I had a voice and people were actually listening."-Melanie


Throughout this project students made multiple drafts in order to produce high quality products across many content areas. Students created tiles in their Art rotation to form a mosaic of the Escondido Creek Watershed. In their STEM rotation, students made models of trout using a 3D printer and programed robots to travel up and down a map of the watershed. They wrote poems and narrative stories about their trout. In addition, they created a field guide, invasive plant cards, and pamphlets to inform their community.

Ceramic Tile Mosaic

Students wrote code to allow trout to journey up and down the watershed.

Students designed several logos for their project. They evaluated the work of several students and agreed on one logo that they could print on shirts and materials to be given to the public.
Field Guide Created by Fourth Grade Students
Learning from field experts at the San Elijo Lagoon

Better World Day

On May 4, 2018, Conway students, along with hundreds of other students across the United States, participated in EL Education's first ever Better World Day. The Super Stewards thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to share their learning and rally the community behind their cause. The preparation for the community presentation involved memorizing their lines, creating visuals displays, and practicing over and over again. They enlisted the help of fifth graders to critique their performances. These mentors provided them with the feedback they needed to improve for the big day. Students had a feeling of accomplishment and pride in their work.

Students present their learning to the community through formal presentations, informational stations, and talking with news reporters.

Field Work

The Elfin Forest

Lake Wohlford

The San Diego Archaeological Center

The San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Safari Park

The San Elijo Lagoon

Field Experts

Paul Curtis

Paul Curtis, trout expert at Aqua Solver/Aqua Finn, presents students with trout care information.

Simon Breen-The Escondido Creek Conservancy

Education Specialist from The Escondido Creek Conservancy demonstrates how pollutants in the watershed drain out into the ocean.

Mobile Splash Lab

Field Scientists from the Splash Science Mobile Lab, San Diego County Office of Education, demonstrate the impact of humans on the watershed.

Christina Augustin

Christina Agustin, Water Education Department , City of Escondido demonstrates the water cycle and engages students in creating water filtration systems.

Dr. Meg Lowman

Field Biologist, Author, Dr. Meg Lowman, Skypes with students to discuss how scientists share their research with others.

Dr. Susan Mulley

Dr. Susan Mulley, a Landscape Architect, at Cal Poly Pomona, shares a proposed plan to redesign the 7 mile concrete culvert that currently creates a barrier for endangered trout.

Kristen Hoffman-The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy

Kristen Hoffman, of the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, talks with students about invasive plants.

Contributions to a Better World

Conway students not only learning the importance of a clean watershed, they realized that they need to pitch in and do their part in making the world a better place. In these experiences, students worked together, persevered through new and challenging tasks, strengthened communication skills, and developed a sense of empathy and compassion for the environment.

Beach Clean Up

Students spend the day learning about beach erosion and picking up trash to help their local watershed.

Wetland Restoration

Students engage in conservation activities at the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy

Park Clean Up

Students create a better world by cleaning up a local park.

Trout Release

Students read poems and letters to their trout as they release them into Lake Miramar.

Kindness Rock Project

Conway Students participated in a school wide project to make a better world. K-5 students painted rocks and wrote inspirational messages on them. The rocks were distributed by students and placed throughout the community to bring a little happiness to all who found them.

Project Partners

The Escondido Super Stewards would like to thank all of our project partners. Each partner played a pivotal role in our learning through, experiences, donations, and/or professional documentation.

EL Education Better World Project

The Escondido Creek Conservancy

The San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy

City of Escondido

The San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Safari Park

The San Diego Archaeological Center

The Escondido Education Foundation

Trout In the Classroom

Lake Wohlford

San Diego County Water Authority

Photos by Salome

Future Graphics


What's next for the Escondido Super Stewards?

The possibilities are endless...

Created By
Escondido Super Stewards


Photos by Salome

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