Youth Voices is working with middle school students from three schools in the El Monte City School District: Columbia, Durfee, and Wright. The students, participants in the English Language Development program at their schools, formed teams to explore, investigate, and write about an important issue in their community; all the while they are learning and expanding their knowledge of civic journalism and community engagement. Follow their work on social media by using the hashtag #KCETYV.
Durfee School is nestled between the San Gabriel River Trail in the working class community of El Monte. The school is a hybrid elementary/middle school (K - 8th grades). In the spring semester of this year, teachers adopted KCETLink Youth Voices, a ten-week civic journalism curriculum. Students from Ms.Brown and Ms. Salerno's classrooms explored a variety of environmental, health, and recreational issues, and emerged from a series of discussions and activities students with the ability to think of their community in a critical way.
Guest speakers are an important part of the learning process because they help illustrate in-class assignments into current tangible lessons rooted in a sense of place. Many of the speakers work in local non-profits, such as Amigos de los Rios, a community-based organization working to establish and strengthen the Emerald Necklace, a regional network of parks and recreational opportunities, from the San Gabriel Mountain to the Pacific Ocean and out to the Catalina Islands. Brenda Kyle, an Amigos de los Rios Fellow, shared information about a project called Operation Tree Canopy, a collaboration with U.C. Riverside that uses community engagement techniques utilized by the international organization Earth Watch Mission. Together, they engage regular people through scientific field research to promote action and understanding for a sustainable environment.
Ms. Kyle provided hands-on, science-based field research training, in which students learned how to measure and classify trees and green vegetation along their school's nature path. The data collected will be part of a larger study that measures local ground temperatures in the San Gabriel Valley. Activities such as this serve as an introduction to field research, and provide the environmental foundation that the students could use for their own Youth Voices projects.
The Youth Voices' civic journalism and community engagement program welcomes community organizations, researchers, and civic leaders who can make data driven research interactive and tangible for students. To learn more about the student led projects, please visit the students El Monte City School District hub or follow their Twitter account.