Region 5: South Bay

Serving Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz Counties

Welcome to CREEC Region 5!

Look to this page for local environmental education news, funding, and upcoming events. 

New Tool! Santa Cruz County Guide to NGSS and EE Programs

Santa Cruz County Quick Reference Guide to NGSS and Environmental Education Programs
This spreadsheet is a tool for educators, school administrators and organizations concerned with environmental literacy.
In it you will find:

  • Program information organized by grade level
  • EE Program descriptions with specific NGSS Connections
  • Links to Program Provider websites
  • Links to General NGSS Resources

If you have questions or find something that needs to be edited, please contact Amity Sandage, Region 5 CREEC Coordinator, at This tool was developed by the CREEC Region 5 and Santa Cruz County Office of Education with generous support from Community Foundation Santa Cruz County.

Local Funding Opportunities, Internships and Contests

CalWater H2O Challenge
Registration Deadline: January 31
Cal Water H2O Challenge is a project-based, environmentally-focused competition for classrooms, grades 4-6. Aligned with the Common Core State Standards and complementary to the Next Generation Science Standards, Cal Water H2O Challenge offers a unique opportunity for upper elementary teachers to facilitate their students’ learning of standards-based content, while developing the core understanding of environmental principles necessary to becoming science-literate citizens. Win great prizes, learn new skills and make a difference in the world! Eligible schools are in Cupertino Union, King City Union, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Montebello, Pajaro Valley, Redwood City, Salinas City, San Mateo-Foster City, Santa Rita Union, Woodside. Check to see if your school is eligible here:

Mini-grants Up to $5,000 from Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD)
Through these mini grants, you can apply for funding related to water education. Also, SCVWD grants can now offer transportation assistance to schools/teachers wanting to send students to field trips with any water/watershed connections.  Apply for transportation to SCVWD free field trips or to another organization’s field trip, or apply for small projects on your school campus as well.  Full information is at  

California Fertilizer Foundation Grant Program
Deadline: February 2
This grant funds California public and private elementary, middle and high schools for continuation and/or implementation of school garden programs (during or after-school programs are eligible). 24 grants of $1,200 will be awarded in the 2017-2018 school year in the categories of Start Up and Existing Gardens. Learn more online!

PG&E STEM Scholarships
PG&E is awarding a wide variety of college scholarships-including the PG&E Better Together STEM Scholarships. Twenty scholarships of $10,000 each and 20 scholarships of $1,000 each are available to students in PG&E service areas who are pursuing a degree in an eligible STEM discipline at a four-year California college or university. Students planning to enroll in full time undergraduate study for the 2018-2019 academic year should apply by February 5, 2018 at Many other scholarship opportunities can be found at 

Let our coast and ocean inspire you! Win great prizes!
Entries must be postmarked by January 31
California students in kindergarten through 12th grade are invited to submit artwork or poetry with a California coastal or marine theme to the annual Coastal Art & Poetry Contest. For rules and entry form (and helpful links for teachers and students), visit the website at or email

Professional Development Workshops

K-12 Water Education Workshop
Registration deadline: January 16, Workshop on January 27 at Santa Cruz County Office of Education
This interactive, NGSS-based workshop will give you excellent interdisciplinary resources for teaching science, history and English Language Arts as students learn about water resources. Only $10 and includes curricula and lunch! Register now at:

Engage Students in Science Through Environmental Topics: K-12 Teacher Workshop
Registration Deadline: February 14, Workshop on February 24 at Santa Cruz County Office of Education
Use Project Learning Tree (PLT) and Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) to bring relevancy, excitement, and interdisciplinary learning to your science plans. Project Learning Tree is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12. Use the environment to engage students in learning both outside and inside the classroom, and teach students how to think, not what to think! FREE! Register now at:

Registration is NOW OPEN for Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Teacher Professional Development Programs!
January 9: Registration opens for the aquarium’s Teacher Open House and Sleepover on February 9, 2018
January 22: Registration opens for the aquarium’s free, stipended teacher institutes. This year they are offering:
– K-2 Teachers: Splash Zone Teacher Institute July 23-27, plus 3 Saturday follow ups
– 3-5 teachers: Coastal Systems Teacher Institute July 8-13, plus 3 follow up Saturdays
– 6-8 Teachers: Project-Based Teacher Institute for July 29-August 3, plus 3 follow up Saturdays
Register at

For Principals and School Leaders: Green Schoolyard Institute
Apply in early Spring 2018 for the Fall 2018 Institute in the San Francisco Bay Area
The Green Schoolyards America Principals’ Institute supports school administrators in their pivotal role as leaders of their school community and champions of a healthy and dynamic school environment. The Institute provides resources, advice, professional development and a peer network that helps principals adopt and sustain comprehensive, high quality, green schoolyard programs at their schools. For more information, go to

California Naturalist Certificate Training
Application deadline: February 2
The mission of the UC California Naturalist Program is to foster a diverse community of naturalists and promote stewardship of California’s natural resources through education and service. The California Naturalist Certificate Training  will utilize a combination of science curriculum; guest lecturers, field trips and project based learning to immerse you in the natural world of the San Francisco Peninsula. Participants become part of a community of graduates from previous years. This group will have opportunities to network and learn together into the future. More information and registration at


Suggested Resources

Bay Area Environmental STEM Institute (BAESI): an Environmental STEM Resource Hub for Teachers.

Green Ninja:  videos and middle school curriculum Redefining Superheroes: Story, Science, Solutions

Green Teacher Webinars: Various webinars offered throughout the year related to environmental education and sustainability topics. Register online for a webinar or to be added to the email list.

Shape of Life: free classroom videos based on an original PBS Series exploring the beautiful evolution of the animal kingdom, the way animals thrive and the innovative scientists who explore these creatures.

California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom: Lesson plans and resources to connect agriculture with a range of educational themes.

Using Phenomena in NGSS-designed Lessons and Units : Great resource for teaching through phenomena!

Upcoming Events

To view more events in this region and all regions click here.

Amity Sandage
Region Coordinator

Region 5 Highlights

Join the CalWater H2O Challenge!

Cal Water H2O Challenge is a project-based, environmentally-focused competition for classrooms, grades 4-6. Designed in conjunction with NAAEE, the WestEd K-12 Alliance, and Cal Water, and aligned with the Common Core State Standards and complimentary to the Next Generation Science Standards, Cal Water H2O Challenge offers a unique opportunity for upper elementary teachers to facilitate their students’ learning of standards-based content, while developing the core understanding of environmental principles necessary to becoming science-literate citizens.

School Programs Available with Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary offers educational programs for your classroom! Through hands-on experiential activities, students will gain a better understanding of the sanctuary and be inspired to protect this special place in the future. Choose from three field trip options–studying sandy beach environments, exploring the Santa Cruz wharf, or conducting a beach stewards cleanup–or, invite a fisherman into your classroom to share their exciting stories and passion for the ocean with your students (Fisherman in the Classroom program is currently only available to for Monterey County schools). For more information, email or visit 

Environmental Volunteer Opportunities in Santa Cruz County

Environteers provides one portal for easy access to the many rewarding environmental volunteer opportunities in Santa Cruz County as well as events and local environmental news and interviews.