Guardian Awards

KIDS for the BAY’s Guardian Awards are bestowed on teachers and principals who show their commitment to one or more of our programs and continue to teach our programs year after year as part of their science curriculum.

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KIDS for the BAY Guardian Award 2016

Mira Vista School, Richmond

KIDS for the BAY presented the entire Mira Vista elementary school community with the 2016 KIDS for the BAY Guardian Award, honoring their dedication to protecting and restoring the San Francisco Bay watershed. Twenty teachers and 480 students from Mira Vista School participated for three years in the School Wide Watershed Action Program with KIDS for the BAY. Every class was engaged in hands-on watershed science lessons in the classroom, Environmental Action Projects to help protect and restore creek, bay and ocean habitats and Field Trips to explore local Wildcat Creek, the Richmond Bay Shoreline and ocean ecosystems at Muir Beach. Parent volunteers were actively involved in the program, and principal Gabriel Chilcott was excited to have KIDS for the BAY at his school:

“Science is the lost subject in elementary schools. It is very valuable to have KIDS for the BAY come in and help us not only teach science but take it to another level by giving students meaningful hands-on experiences with their local environment and ensuring that they become part of preservation efforts.”
— Gabriel Chilcott, Principal, Mira Vista School, Richmond

During the three years of the program, from 2012 – 2015, Mira Vista students achieved an amazing impact:

  • 20,551 pieces of trash were cleaned up from the school campus and neighborhood;
  • 23,520 pieces of trash were cleaned up from creek, bay, and ocean habitats;
  • 1,200 square feet of invasive plants were removed to make way for native plants to grow at Mira Vista Field; and
  • 62 native plants were planted beside Wildcat Creek in collaboration with East Bay Regional Park District.

 “I can’t believe people are so careless with garbage – don’t they know it can hurt animals?”
— Carter, Fourth Grader Student, Mira Vista School, Richmond

The Mira Vista School principal and teachers are committed to continuing to teach the School Wide Watershed Action Program using the curriculum guide, hands-on modeling of lessons, and equipment kits provided by KIDS for the BAY. Thank you Mira Vista school community for your hard work and dedication to protecting your local watershed environment!

This program was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Bay Watershed Education and Training Program and the Dean Witter Foundation.


guardians-Paden-TeachersKIDS for the BAY Guardian Award 2016

Marcia Gill and Serena Kielty
Paden Elementary School, Alameda

“We gotta save the earth! The Watershed Action Program enables our students to become stewards of their environment. It empowers them to take action. Throughout the program, students learn about their watershed, love it, and then take care of it!”

Third grade teachers Marcia Gill and Serena Kielty from Paden Elementary School in Alameda were presented with the KIDS for the BAY Guardian Award this spring. KIDS for the BAY honored the two teachers for their commitment to delivering the Watershed Action Program (WAP) to over 300 students over the past seven years, since their first year of training with KIDS for the BAY!

“The WAP is our science curriculum!” shared Ms. Gill. “The program encourages a lot of discussion and hands-on activity. It starts with empowering the students to identify themselves as scientists. Their curiosities are stoked because they have real things to investigate right in front of them.” Ms. Kielty added, “So many critical thinking questions naturally arise. Students find evidence in a hands-on way to explain their arguments about adaptations, pollution, and more. This is so aligned with Common Core reasoning.”

Paden Elementary third grade WAP students have performed many trash clean-up projects on their school campus and at Crab Cove in Alameda. Our motivated partner teachers take advantage of the bay as their backyard and work continuously to guide their students to take care of it. Paden Elementary School is now adopting a new schoolwide motto, ‘Learn and Play by the Bay!’ “The KIDS for the BAY curriculum fits perfectly with how we are growing as a school, and we will continue to use this program,” said Ms. Gill. KIDS for the BAY looks forward to continuing to support these inspirational teachers and the entire Paden Elementary School community as they focus their curriculum and mission on place-based learning and environmental stewardship.


guardians-Annika-Award-2016KIDS for the BAY Guardian Award 2016

Annika Rudback
Greenleaf Elementary School, Oakland

Annika Rudback, fourth grade teacher at Greenleaf Elementary School in Oakland, has been teaching the Watershed Action Program to her students for the past four years. Because of her dedication, hundreds of students have had the opportunity to investigate fish and crab in the classroom, take action to prevent trash from entering local storm drains, and explore creek, bay, and ocean habitats!

Ms. Rudback shared, “I have seen firsthand the impact of the Watershed Action Program. From the highly engaging Classroom Lessons that allow students to investigate and understand our watershed, to the Action Project that helps them become advocates for the environment, KIDS for the BAY is always one of my students’ favorite parts of the school year. As a teacher, I love the program because it is an invaluable curricula resource that targets grade-level standards for science and social studies. But most importantly, I’ve seen my students share what they have learned with our school community and their families with genuine enthusiasm and knowledge.

“The Field Trip component is very important because many of my students do not otherwise have the chance to experience nature up close. Every year, kids are motivated by the Field Trip and come back enthusiastic about what they’ve been able to apply from their Classroom Lessons.

“I had the great luck to have KIDS for the BAY in my classroom my first year teaching, where I was provided with modules for teaching the lessons and had the chance to watch the implementation firsthand in my classroom and in the field. Every year since then, I have taught the Watershed Action Program to my students with the ongoing support of the KIDS for the BAY program staff and the resources they provide.”

Ms. Rudback also appreciates the Watershed Action Program’s impact on her students’ awareness of their surroundings. She said, “Students become more conscious of trash and its impact on the environment. They get really excited to clean up their schoolyard, and they tell their parents about it. They love cleaning up trash!”

Thank you Annika for your dedication to providing your students with hands-on science and environmental action opportunities through the Watershed Action Program!


Guardian-Award-Photo-2015-768x576KIDS for the BAY Guardian Award 2015

Jenna Krier & Susie Krier
John Green Elementary School, Dublin

Jenna Krier, a fourth grade teacher at John Green Elementary School in Dublin, was attracted to KIDS for the BAY’s Watershed Action Program (WAP) the first time she heard about it.  Three years later, she still loves the program, and has now brought it to hundreds of students in Dublin.

During her third year teaching the WAP. Ms. Krier inquired about any new KftB programs that she could introduce to her school, and we offered her our School Wide Storm Rangers Program (SDR). Ms. Jenna Krier was thrilled to learn the new program, and recruited her cousin and fellow fourth grade teacher at John Green, Mrs. Susie Krier, to partner with KftB as well.

The two teachers were a powerful fourth grade duo at John Green School. They each observed the SDR lessons taught to their classes by KftB Instructor Alicia Thompson and then led the lessons twice a week to other fourth grade classes. Due to the teachers’ amazing efforts, four additional fourth grade classes at John Green Elementary were able to participate in the SDR program.

The Kriers selected six students from every fourth grade class to participate in the School-Wide Assembly. Parents and friends came to the Assembly, and over 700 students were in the audience! Both Ms. and Mrs. Krier played key roles, portraying sea turtles or whales harmed by marine debris, and teaching hundreds of students about the negative effects of marine debris and its impact on animals. Students of all ages loved seeing their teachers on stage, connecting with them in their fight for a better environment.

Throughout their participation in KIDS for the BAY programs, Jenna and Susie Krier were exceptional teachers and stewards for a better environment. They have been gifted a Follow-Up Program Kit, providing them with all the equipment they need to teach the Storm Drain Rangers and Watershed Action Programs for years to come. We thank them for their support, and for their continued dedication to environmental education!


KIDS for the BAY Guardian Award 2014

Wendy Silkworth
Harding Elementary School, El Cerrito

Ms. Wendy Silkworth, a third grade teacher at Harding Elementary School in El Cerrito, completed the Watershed Action Program in 2004.  Ms. Silkworth has now taught the program to her students at Harding Elementary for ten years in a row!

This year, Ms. Silkworth received a well-deserved Guardian Award. KftB presented the award while she and her third grade students were on a Field Trip studying the aquatic invertebrates at Creekside Park in El Cerrito.  “I love teaching the program!” exclaimed Ms. Silkworth.  “My students always look forward to participating in the hands-on science activities.”

For her yearly class Action Project, Ms. Silkworth and her students conduct creek restoration projects, public park clean-ups or school clean-ups. She pledged to continue teaching the Watershed Action Program at Harding Elementary School for years to come.  “It is really a great program!  It is very important for students to learn and appreciate the San Francisco Bay even more!” she said.


GuardianAward2014TeachersHesparianElementaryKIDS for the BAY Guardian Award 2014

Elaine Weissman, Denisse Fitzgerald, and Mary Burke
Hesperian Elementary School, Ashland

For the past three years, a team of three fifth grade teachers at Hesperian Elementary School in Ashland have been teaching the Storm Drain Rangers Program.  Ms. Elaine Weissman, Ms. Denisse Fitzgerald and Ms. Mary Burke, shared how KftB’s Teacher Training Model helped them deliver the program on their own years after their first lesson with a KftB instructor.

“Having the KftB Instructor model the lessons for each of our classes gave us an excellent example to emulate. I like the follow-up as well because every year there’s been some contact made with us to see how we are doing and when we need the kit, as well as general support.”
—Ms. Denise Fitzgerald, Fifth Grade Teacher, Hesperian Elementary School, Ashland

These three teachers are doing a wonderful job educating our youth to better protect their local environment. KIDS for the BAY has awarded them with a Storm Drain Rangers equipment kit and our 2014 Guardian Award.


guardians-Madhuri-Ream-copy-1024x768KIDS for the BAY Guardian Award 2013

Madhuri Ream
Redwood Heights Elementary School, Oakland

Every year for the past six years, third grade teacher Madhuri Ream has taught KIDS for the BAY’s Watershed Action Program to her students at Redwood Heights Elementary School in Oakland.

“I find teaching this program to be very rewarding for both me and my students. My students really love learning about the bay and it’s so important for them to become more environmentally conscious. That’s why I really believe in teaching this program.”
—Madhuri Ream, Third Grade Teacher, Redwood Heights Elementary School, Oakland

Ms. Ream has taken a lead in sharing the Watershed Action Program classroom lessons, environmental Action Projects and field trips and has encouraged her grade-level partner teachers to participate and to learn to teach the program as well.  Every spring she organizes a bay field trip for all the third grade classes and prepares the third grade team of teachers for the experience.  The exciting, hands-on field trip to Crab Cove in Alameda includes a rocky shoreline exploration, a plankton investigation and a bird study.  “I wouldn’t be able to run this program without the support of KIDS for the BAY,” Ms. Ream shared.


guardians-Codel-Lisa-copyKIDS for the BAY Guardian Award 2013

Codel Frydendahl and Lisa Gilbert
Niles Elementary School, Fremont

Many students at Niles Elementary School in Fremont are proud to report that they now take “army showers” to conserve fresh water and that they clean up around neighborhood storm drains to prevent garbage from polluting the San Francisco Bay Estuary.  This is thanks to two special teachers, Codel Frydendahl and Lisa Gilbert, who have taught the KIDS for the BAY Storm Drain Rangers Program for the past four years to more than 260 students as an integrated component of their third grade curriculum.

“The Storm Drain Rangers Program is exciting and well presented. The support from KIDS for the BAY is wonderful. The students love the program and are inspired by it.  Awareness is everything. The kids learn, but most importantly take their knowledge home to their parents.”
—Codel Frydendahl, Third Grade Teacher, Niles Elementary School, Fremont

Ms. Frydendahl and Ms. Gilbert work hard together to make the Storm Drain Rangers Program experience exciting and memorable. Their favorite component of the curriculum is building models of the San Francisco Bay Estuary. The teachers appreciate this activity because it allows students to witness how salt water and fresh water combine in an estuary. In their teaching Ms. Frydendahl and Ms. Gilbert make certain to emphasize the importance of keeping the environment litter-free. Every year the two teachers and their students take action to reduce storm drain pollution by conducting a clean-up around Perk Ponds at Niles Elementary. Thanks to the Niles Elementary School students’ efforts and enthusiasm, the Perk Ponds area has never been cleaner!


guardians-audreyamosJohn Muir Elementary School, Berkeley

At our 20 Year Anniversary Event on October 20, 2012, we awarded a very special KIDS for the BAY Guardian Award, to an entire school – John Muir Elementary School in Berkeley. For three years, from 2009 – 2012, all the teachers at John Muir School, the school principal and parents, partnered with KIDS for the BAY to teach every student about the creeks, the bay and the ocean in our School Wide Watershed Action program.

Harwood Creek, which flows through the school grounds was the focus of one of KIDS for the BAY’s original programs, the School Wide Creek Education and Restoration Program, so it was wonderful to extend our partnership with John Muir School to introduce a new program many years later. Audrey Amos, the very inspiring leader and school principal of John Muir School, accepted the award for her school.

“We feel so fortunate to have the opportunity for our whole school to work with KIDS for the BAY in the Watershed Action Program. They have brought exciting hands-on science lessons to our classrooms and supported our teachers in teaching science, which is something that very few elementary school teachers have experience in. The field trips have been a wonderful chance for our students to explore and learn in nature and for many of our students this was their first time going to the ocean or the bay. Our whole school has become more aware of the actions we can take to care for the environment and we take our responsibility to do out part very seriously thanks to KIDS for the BAY.”
– Audrey Amos, Principal, John Muir Elementary School, Berkeley


guardians-lucyschmidtKIDS for the BAY Guardian Award 2012

World Academy Team of Third Grade Teachers

The team of third grade teachers from World Academy School in Oakland, received the KIDS for the BAY Guardian Award at our 20 Year Anniversary Celebration, Ocotber 20, 2012. KIDS for the BAY began working with World Academy third grade teachers five years ago, including: Colleen Hodge, Jennifer Erickson, Sarah Ann LeRoy, Carolina Monterrosa, Darlene Smith-Walters and Lucy Schmidt. The teachers now teach our Watershed Action Program every year as a completely integrated part of their curriculum. These teachers are amazing! They teach the program, with all the classroom lessons and action projects, and they take all their third grade students – 150 students – on two field trips to Sausal Creek and Crab Cove each year.

“Now that our entire third grade team has been trained in the Watershed Action Program, this program is part of our third grade curriculum and is embedded into our teaching and learning. KIDS for the BAY has enhanced our third grade in so many ways: student achievement and engagement is up, our third grade teachers make sure to collaborate on the curriculum in order for our students to be successful, our limited hands-on science program has been expanded and our students are becoming aware of their surroundings and how they need to be responsible for this planet Earth.”
– Susan Sperber, Principal, World Academy School, Oakland

“Our involvement with the Watershed Action Program has been the highlight of my students’ and my year. I feel confident that my students have increased their knowledge of their community and environment. I have noticed students going out of their way to clean up our school, as well as storm drains, all without being asked. I have had parents say that they are being reminded by their students to pick up trash and conserve water. As an educator, I have found this experience truly rewarding. Our students’ knowledge has increased, which in turn has increased their love of the environment. This love of the environment has encouraged them to devote themselves to protecting it. I feel like this is the greatest success of the program.”
– Lucy Schmidt, Third Grade Teacher, World Academy School, Oakland

Lucy Schmidt, now the Assistant Principal at World Academy, accepted the award for the team.


guardians-kevinjeungKIDS for the BAY Guardian Award 2012

Kevin Jeung

When you walk into Sequoia Elementary School in Oakland, you are immediately greeted by a large pinball machine and a robot, both made entirely from cardboard and other recycled materials! These art projects were created by Kevin Jeung’s fourth grade class and are made from material that would normally be recycled or thrown away. As you walk further into the school many colorful fact posters are boldly displayed along the walls. “Recycling your daily newspaper saves 5 trees per year!” and “Americans use over 65 billion aluminum soda cans every year!” are some of the messages that Kevins’ students have displayed to teach other students to practice the Four Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot).

In 2007, as a first year teacher, Kevin participated in KIDS for the BAY’s Four Rs Action Program. “As a child, my mom was big into recycling, but I was not as educated about composting and did not know about urban runoff pollution,” stated Kevin, “I never would have been able to put together and teach a Four Rs curriculum if it had not been for KIDS for the BAY.” For the past five years Kevin has taught his students about preventing storm drain pollution, reducing plastic waste, reusing paper, recycling and composting, thanks to the training and support he received from KIDS for the BAY. “I notice my students checking to make sure both sides of a piece of paper are used before they recycle it. The concepts taught during the Four Rs program really stick with them.” Kevin makes sure the Four Rs message is taken home by having the students complete reuse art projects and a Four Rs interview with their families. He also takes his class on an annual trip to Camp Arroyo, an outdoor environmental education camp which focuses on the Four Rs.

“I personally think environmental education is extremely important for students to learn at a young age. They need to know how their actions and choices affect their environment. All the support and wonderful lessons KIDS for the BAY has provided have proved invaluable in teaching these concepts to my students.”
– Kevin Jeung, Fourth Grade Teacher, Sequoia Elementary School, Oakland

We are excited to recognize Kevin as the 2012 KIDS for the BAY Guardian. We commend him for all the wonderful work he does each year, engaging his students in hands-on science learning and inspiring them to take care of the environment.


guardians-judyKIDS for the BAY Guardian Award 2011

Judy Greenspan

Judy Greenspan is one of those people who always goes above and beyond in her work as an educator. A third grade teacher at Stege School in Richmond, Judy brings healthy snacks from home for her students every day. She says that many of them have not eaten breakfast and she believes that having healthy food will help them to concentrate on their lessons.

Judy participated in the KIDS for the BAY Watershed Action Program three years ago. Since her initial year of training with us, Judy has encouraged four other third grade partner teachers to also become involved with our program. In addition, Judy has continued to teach the Watershed Action Program to her new classes of students each year with the curriculum guide, equipment kit and ongoing support provided by KIDS for the BAY.

We are honored to recognize Judy as the KIDS for the BAY Guardian 2011. We commend Judy for her efforts to teach hands-on environmental science to her students year after year, and for her work to incorporate the Watershed Action Program as an integrated part of the third grade curriculum at her school. We would also like to thank Judy for showing her commitment to our work by making personal donations to KIDS for the BAY.

“I am extremely thrilled with every aspect of the Watershed Action Program. My students were so engaged in the hands-on science activities. Most of my students live in housing projects around Baxter Creek across the street from our school. They were amazed to learn so much about their neighborhood creek and they also worked hard shoveling mulch, removing non-native plants and cleaning up trash around the creek. I enjoyed watching my students become scientists as they engaged in water quality testing at their creek.

“The Watershed Action Program has made science teaching possible in my classroom and has really supported my teaching. I believe that this program, more than any other, has really turned my students on to science. If I had more time in my life I would organize the rest of my curriculum like the KIDS for the BAY program. It is concrete, thematic and project based. It is hands-on and very enjoyable and accessible for my students.

“I am very honored to be selected for the KIDS for the BAY Guardian Award. KIDS for the BAY has been my inspiration for doing hands-on science inquiry and has aided me greatly in bringing exciting and dynamic science curricula into my classroom.”
– Judy Greenspan, Third Grade Teacher, Stege Elementary School, Richmond

Congratulations Judy – you are helping to inspire the next generation of environmentalists!


guardians-janebarrettKIDS for the BAY Guardian Award 2010

Jane Barrett

Jane Barrett, one of our first teacher participants and a committed donor for twelve years, is the first recipient of our new KIDS for the BAY Guardian Award.

“I first met Jane Barrett seventeen years ago when she was a teacher at Malcolm X Elementary School in Berkeley and I was just starting out with the idea for KIDS for the BAY. I was always so impressed with Jane’s energy, her commitment to environmental education and her openness to trying all my new ideas with her students! She always had a smile, was extremely organized for all our activities and field trips and greeted every new experience with enthusiasm.

Now retired, Jane is still very energetic and active. She regularly plays tennis, goes hiking and travels the world. She also volunteers with several nonprofits. Her enthusiasm for KIDS for the BAY continues and she has generously supported our work for many years. She has also invited other potential donors to give to KIDS for the BAY and attended our special events.

We are honored to recognize Jane as the KIDS for the BAY Guardian 2010. Thank you Jane for the many years of support and inspiration that you have given to KIDS for the BAY!”
Mandi Billinge, Executive Director/Founder, KIDS for the BAY

“I am so pleased to see KIDS for the BAY expand to so many school districts and become a nationally recognized environmental education organization. It certainly shows what a lot of hard work, enthusiasm and dedication can do for the field of science education. Thank you so much for the KIDS for the BAY Guardian Award. It is very appreciated. I wish you every continued success!”
– Jane Barrett, KftB Donor/Former KftB Teacher, Berkeley, California