Sponsoring senior environmental stewards

It’s never too early or too late to learn to care for our environment. Thanks to the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s pilot mini-grant program, more than 100 older adults participated in hands-on lessons related to protecting local watersheds and stream ecosystems.

In spring of  2018, the water district awarded the nonprofit organization Bay Area Older Adults with $5,000 to provide outdoor educational programs for adults 50 years of age or older. Participants got a chance to experience our county’s watersheds and riparian ecosystems up close with guided trail hikes along Stevens Creek, Rancho San Antonio County Park and Permanente Creek, and Uvas Creek. These excursions helped relay the complexities of the district’s watershed projects which seek to restore our streams and preserve the environment while reducing flood risks for residents and properties.

The program focused on hands-on learning, which, according to Bay Area Older Adults, has been shown to be more effective than classroom instruction. Adult students also took part in a Restoration Volunteer Day at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, helping weed and mulch part of the refuge’s landscape. Participants learned about the importance of restoring wildlife habitat and preserving our shoreline environment.

An overwhelming number of participating adults surveyed (97 percent) reported their knowledge of watersheds and/or wildlife in Santa Clara County improved thanks to Bay Area Older Adults activities. One of the added benefits of the program is the fact that a majority of program participants are residents of Santa Clara County, and as such will be much more engaged and informed citizens as it relates to the district’s work throughout the county. Funding for the mini-grant program is derived from the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program, a 15-year countywide special parcel tax, approved by 74 percent of voters in 2012.

Bay Area Older Adults was founded by Dr. Anne Ferguson in 2008 out of her love for her grandparents, who had passed away a few years earlier. Today, the organization aims to bring joy and improve the lives of older adults throughout the Bay Area by adhering to their mission of stimulating the hearts, bodies, and minds of older adults through easy access to arts, culture, nature and new friends.

The mini-grant program application period is now open with a total of $200,000 in funding available. Applicants may apply for up to $5,000 per project. To learn more about the mini-grants program, visit our grants website.



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