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American River Messenger

Partnership Nurtures Young Scientists to Care for the American River

Jul 02, 2019 12:00AM ● By By Bruce Hartzell, Original Communications

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Elana, a first grader at Elder Creek Elementary School in Sacramento, dipped the litmus paper into the river as her classmate, Jason, held a thermometer in the water. The other children watching closely along the water’s edge, the young scientists learned how to test the river’s pH and temperature, both of which are critical to supporting salmon and steelhead that rely on the lower American River.

The lesson is part of a new partnership between the Sacramento Water Forum and Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael to enhance environmental education for underserved elementary schools in the Sacramento region.

A favorite location for teachers throughout the greater Sacramento area, the Nature Center provides education programs to kids from kindergarten through 8th grade and takes care of the 77-acre nature preserve located in Ancil Hoffman Park. The Water Forum represents a diverse group of water providers, local governments and environmentalists focused on safeguarding the lower American River for both drinking water and wildlife.

“Many students may not realize how important water is in our ecosystem and that it sustains all forms of life,” said Effie Yeaw Nature Center Executive Director Torey Byington. “Our partnership with the Water Forum allows students to receive a one-of-a-kind nature experience that exposes them to the scientific principles and understanding that are keys to forming a relationship with our natural community—both to protect it and share it with others.”

With support from the Water Forum and a Sacramento County grant, the center’s Urban Nature Program was enriched to include more hands-on discussions about where water comes from, where it goes and why rivers are important; water quality and its effects on salmon; and ways to protect the lower American River from pollution.

The ultimate goal is to help students understand the importance of water to our community and environment, nurture a deeper connection to the river and inspire budding young scientists, said Water Forum Executive Director Tom Gohring. “Part of the Water Forum mission is to care for the lower American River and the American River Parkway,” Gohring said. “This partnership is helping us instill the value of the natural world, and specifically the American River, into our next generation of citizens, educators and civic leaders.”

To learn more about the Urban Nature Partnership Program or other educational programs offered at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, visit


The Sacramento Water Forum is a diverse group of business and agricultural leaders, citizen groups, environmentalists, water managers and local governments working together to balance two co-equal objectives: to provide a reliable and safe water supply for the Sacramento region’s long-term growth and economic health; and to preserve the fishery, wildlife, recreational, and aesthetic values of the lower American River. Learn more at


The Effie Yeaw Nature Center (a community service of the American River Natural History Association) provides nature education programs to kids from kindergarten through 8th grade, as well as evening classes for adults, and takes care of the 77-acre nature preserve located in Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael. Built in 1976, the Nature Center honors the work done by Effie Yeaw (1900-1970) who connected thousands of children with nature at the location now protected as a nature preserve. Each year nearly 100,000 residents, including many families with young children, walk the nature center trails and enjoy the quiet natural area, which extends from the oak woodland to the lower American River. Learn more at