Stockton lies at the seat of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the heart of the battle for water in CA. Restore the Delta (RTD) is a local nonprofit in Stockton dedicated to preserving the Delta and fostering young environmental justice leaders. To create advocates for our waterways, we must build opportunities for them to understand and appreciate the impact water quality has to the health and history of Stockton and CA overall. RTD has recently developed strategic partnerships with grassroots social justice nonprofits in Stockton that represent underserved communities and have a strong focus on developing youth advocates. Through this collaboration, RTD will engage youth from disinvested neighborhoods in Stockton and communities of color, providing them with the tools and know-how to become citizen scientists.
So how do you get these youth to care about a local resource they know little about? Their experience of the Delta involves seeing homeless camps on slough embankments and stagnant, uninviting green water. Many of them are already involved in local advocacy, but they haven’t heard about how harmful algal blooms in their backyards contribute to the asthma their families experience, create smelly toxic air when fish and plants die off, and harm local economics dependent on our waterways. RTD and their partners plan to train youth to become Citizen Scientists. This includes learning about the science and economics of Stockton’s local waterways, conducting water quality testing, practicing public speaking and advocacy skills, and using technology to connect local data with health, education, and economic outcomes for their communities.
Through Citizen Science, youth will understand how water quality testing and how that data can make changes in our city and region. The data collected will be used by them to inform policy recommendations and report to regional and state water boards, the county board of supervisors, and within their local communities.