KftB Recognized Nationally and Locally with Two Awards

Coastal Living’s Educational Award

In Coastal Living’s March Edition they will be awarding KIDS for the BAY with a full page feature article on our Watershed Action Program!

Contra Costa Watershed Project of the Year

The Contra Costa Watershed Forum is recognizing KIDS for the BAY’s outstanding student led restoration action projects on creeks in Contra Costa county!

From Mongolia to Richmond: Coming Together To Clean Creeks

KIDS for the BAY fourth grade students from Castro Elementary School were honored with a visit from Mongolia’s Tsetsegee Munkhbayar last April. The students were cleaning up a trashed creek in the Richmond flatlands. Munkhbayar was in California to receive the prestigious, international, Goldman Environmental Prize. He was recognized for his work to save Mongolian rivers from the detrimental effects of gold mining, which devastate the environment on which local people depend for their livelihood.

People affected by water issues and environmental problems in Mongolia are largely living in rural areas. Richmond, California is highly urbanized. However, both environments are impacted by poverty, industry and water pollution and share this common ground.

Munkhbayar was interested in KIDS for the BAY’s programs because he believes that the involvement of youth is vital to the success of his movement in Mongolia.


“I am very excited to meet with you at KIDS for the BAY and to hear about all the work that you do with children. I believe that children are the most important component of our Onggi River Movement.”

— Tsetsegee Munkhbayar,
Goldman Environmental
Prize Winner, 2007


KIDS for the BAY took Munkhbayar to visit one of our creek education and restoration sites, Baxter Creek in Richmond, where a group of KIDS for the BAY students were cleaning up the creek. Gayle McLaughlin, the Green Party Mayor of Richmond, also joined us there and took a keen interest in meeting Munkhbayar and KIDS for the BAY staff and students.

Munkhbayar addressed the students, saying, “The land is your mother: you must respect and honor her, play with her, enjoy her and help to take good care of her.”

Later, at the KIDS for the BAY office, Munkhbayar shared some of the highlights of his work. He also presented Mandi Billinge, Executive Director of KIDS for the BAY, with a beautiful picture of his Onggi River that he had brought all the way from Mongolia.

In this international information exchange, Mandi shared with Munkhbayar the three key components for the success of KIDS for the BAY programs:

1) inspire a love of learning through hands-on science activities in the classroom and in the outdoors

2) encourage education through action and engage students in environmental action projects that empower them as leaders

3) ensure a lasting impact by training the teachers and engaging the whole school community.

KIDS for the BAY was honored by the visit from Munkhbayar. We feel fortunate to have had this information exchange and to feel solidarity with an environmental activist from another part of the world!

No Child Left INSIDE!

Are our children suffering from Nature Deficit Disorder? This is a condition defined by Richard Louv in his recent best selling book Last Child In The Woods. Louv has identified something that many parents and educators have been feeling, but couldn’t quite name; the increasing alienation between children and nature.

A sedentary lifestyle, too much time indoors and a lack of connection with nature have been linked with obesity, attention deficit disorder and depression. Being in nature provides the opportunity for exploration and wonder, for creative play and for physical exercise, that is so necessary for healthy child development.

A study completed by the California Department of Education in 2005 found that students who participated in environmental education programs in the outdoors raised their science test scores by 27%. However, fewer than 15% of California students are currently participating in outdoor education programs.

KIDS for the BAY staff and teachers participating in our programs certainly agree that students are more engaged in learning when they are outside in nature. This is when children become alive and are excited to learn. Students are fascinated to find a crab hiding under a rock, figure out why it is sheltering there and discover the adaptations that enable the crab to survive in an intertidal habitat.

Children feel empowered when they survey their local creek, decide if it is healthy or unhealthy and make an action plan with their classmates to restore it. This type of real life learning turns students on to science. It also provides them with the opportunity to make a significant difference to their environment.

This school year, KIDS for the BAY will take more than 4,000 school children into the outdoors for a hands-on learning experience and a real-life connection with nature. We are proud to be a part of the national No Child Left INSIDE movement!

Cal State East Bay Teams Up with KIDS for the BAY

KIDS for the BAY is pleased to announce that teachers who participate in our Watershed Action and Four Rs Action Programs can now receive four to eight units of academic credit from Cal State East Bay.

“The credit will help make teachers eligible for pay increases,” explained
KIDS for the BAY Education Director Sheela Shankar. “This is great because we would like to see teachers rewarded when they make the effort to include quality environmental science lessons in their curricula. We also believe the credit program will help other teachers and principals see the value of using the local environment as a highly effective learning resource.”

Twenty teachers have chosen to enroll in the credit program this school year. It provides four units of credit for teachers who enroll while KIDS for the BAY is still actively working in their classes. These teachers meet regularly with KIDS for the BAY staff and complete reports on their experiences and their students’ experiences with the Watershed and Four Rs programs.

Teachers can earn an additional four units if they enroll in the program in
the year after KIDS for the BAY has worked in their classrooms. For these
teachers, the program provides credit as they complete the work of integrating KIDS for the BAY’s Watershed and Four Rs programs into their yearlong curriculum.

“The credit program is helping me incorporate quality, hands-on learning
opportunities into my curriculum while at the same time helping me satisfy State requirements for on-going professional development,” explained Hillcrest Elementary School teacher Susan Weinberg.

Weinberg also noted that because all of the credit program’s training occurs in her own classroom and because the assignments all center on projects she is currently undertaking with her class, it is both convenient and tailored to her own classroom situation.

“KIDS for the BAY’s credit program has presented a great opportunity for me!” she exclaimed

KIDS for the BAY Open House/Award Celebration

On June 2nd, KIDS for the BAY held an Open House to bring together everyone in the extended KftB family and celebrate our EPA award. It was a packed event complete with kids creating clay models of San Francisco Bay and investigating worm compost bins while adults visited and snacked on a tasty spread provided by Back to Earth Organic Catering.
We are extremely grateful to all the donors who helped make the event a success:

Berkeley Bowl
Crixa Cakes
DonSueMor Madeleines
Peaberry’s Coffee and Tea
Trader Joe’s
Our special thanks to Frey Vineyards for contributing their purely organic (and very enjoyable) wines.

KIDS for the BAY wins the 2005 EPA Environment Award

Berkeley, CA (May 4, 2005) — KIDS for the BAY is proud to announce that it has won an EPA Environmental Achievement Award for 2005.

“We are thrilled to receive this award not only because it recognizes our own staff’s hard work to promote environmental awareness and
responsibility in young people, but also because it recognizes the work that our many students have done to help clean-up and restore San Francisco Bay and its urban creeks,” said Mandi Billinge, Executive Director and Founder of the Berkeley-based nonprofit.

KIDS for the BAY is a project of Earth Island Institute and currently works in 60 schools in low income areas around the San Francisco Bay area. Since its inception over 12 years ago, the organization has taught hands-on, environmental science to more than 25,000 elementary school students.

KIDS for the BAY creates on-going environmental education programs and promotes active restoration and stewardship of local habitats. It provides long-term, in-depth, experiential training for teachers. At target schools, the organization’s programs are written into the School Wide Development Plan.

“We are pleased to see KIDS for the BAY receive this award because its ‘School-Wide Creek Program’ has been the major highlight of this year at our school,” said Minh-Tram Nguyen, Principal at Encompass Academy Elementary School in Oakland. “During the period of time that KIDS for the BAY has been teaching here, students’ achievement levels have increased markedly.”

The U.S. EPA Region 9’s Environmental Achievement Awards program seeks to recognize those working to protect and preserve the environment. Winners of this year’s Awards were selected from a pool of 175 nominees from California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. Selection was based on a project’s long term benefit for the environment; promotion of innovative ideas, techniques, and/or technologies; and ability to be widely replicated.

KIDS for the BAY students interview politicians about environmental justice issues in their neighborhoods and teach their families about environmental protection. They have planted thousands of trees and wildflowers along urban creeks; cleaned tons of trash from school neighborhoods; and helped to reduce the waste stream from their schools.

“Our program shows teachers how they can use the local environment as a key educational resource to stimulate students’ learning,” noted Billinge. “Our students become stewards of their local environment and feel empowered to help solve local environmental problems. They are also more excited about learning.”

EPA Award Acceptance Speech
Given by Mandi Billinge, Executive Director/Founder

I would like to thank the EPA for recognizing our work in Environmental Education. I would also like to thank Sheela Shankar, Ket Ashfield and Tony DeCicco, who are here today from KIDS for the BAY.

Over the past twelve years, we have partnered with 25,000 school students on urban habitat restoration, pollution reduction and safe bay food consumption projects.

Our schools are in very urban areas. For example, every one of our schools in Richmond is within a one-mile radius of a polluting facility.

We do teach our children that everyone has the right to live in a clean and healthy environment and we teach them the tools to take action.

Our students interview politicians about environmental justice issues in their neighborhoods. They reach out and teach environmental messages to their families. They have planted thousands of trees and wildflowers along urban creeks, cleaned tons of trash from school neighborhoods and helped to reduce the waste stream from their schools.

Our children have a lot of hope for their environment and they are the future leaders of the environmental movement.

Mandi Billinge
KIDS for the BAY

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