Helping children understand and value our natural world.
A generation of children who value the natural world and take an active role in its protection.
Why Our Work Matters
Common sense and a growing body of scientific evidence suggest that time spent in nature is essential to the healthy development of children. Studies have shown that children who spend time playing and learning in nature tend to be healthier, less anxious, better able to cope with adversity and more cooperative than children who spend most of their free time indoors, focused on television or video games.
Many parents have admitted that they wish their children spent more time playing outside, but it can be hard to get kids into nature due to the increasing urbanization of our communities. Most of us live in areas where there is more pavement than grass, more streetlights than trees.
Splash was founded in 1999 by Eva Butler, a nature advocate and biologist, who realized that by combining hands-on science education with the magic of outdoor experiences, kids become informed and inspired to help protect water and local habitats. Eva worked with the help of many contributors and mentors to develop the Splash Elementary Curriculum (2000) and the Splash High School Curriculum (2001), both of which have been updated several times over the past two decades.
Over the past 23 years Splash has partnered with many municipalities on education and outreach to communities about the importance of Stormwater Pollution Prevention, and has connected nearly 105,000 students with nature, often for the first time in their lives. Splash has trained over 450 teachers on how to make science fun while inspiring a student’s curiosity. The future health of our environment demands that we raise a generation of children who are willing and able to protect it. At Splash we believe that people will value what they understand, and they will protect what they value. Experiences created at Splash have been proven to leave a lasting impression. We have had countless students return to us, letting us know that they chose a career in science because of their first connection made with Splash.
Splash believes that every child should be able to have an experience in nature during each grade throughout their TK-12 public schooling. To reach this goal will take the collaboration of every Environmental Education nonprofit in the region. Splash has begun spearheading this effort by partnering with two California Statewide initiatives.
CalSOL- California Statewide Outdoor Movement is a foundation that has been founded to ensure that ALL students K-12 have an outdoor experience each year. CalSOL exists to advocate for all public-school students to have equal access to quality outdoor education. Currently, receiving the benefits of outdoor education is a bit like winning the lottery. If you live in an area that has prioritized these programs, you may be lucky, but rarely will all children receive equal access to outdoor education. Often the children who don’t have access to these programs are the ones with the greatest need for access to nature and the many benefits that come with it.
Splash has become a sub-grantee of CalSOL to work on building the collaborative efforts of the many Northern CA/Reno organizations so that we can begin to ensure that ALL students are given the access to nature that they deserve. The efforts of this collaboration are to ensure that funding opportunities enable all organizations to begin meeting the demands of reaching more students every year. Splash will begin working collaboratively to ensure that through the formation of a regional collective and through the partnership of CalSOL, our collaborating organizations will remain solvent and be made aware of future funding opportunities.
The California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI), led by Ten Strands, works statewide with guidance from a leadership council, to create systematic change in support of environmental literacy with a focus on access, equity, and cultural relevance for all students.
In 2015, the California Department of Education, working with a 48-member Environmental Literacy Taskforce, published California’s Blueprint for Environmental Literacy which aims to:
- Create a supportive statewide context for environmental literacy.
- Infuse environment-based learning throughout the K–12 public education system.
- Support districts and counties who are embracing environmental literacy to meet district goals.
- Build the network of Community Based Partners who are brining students into the outdoors and connecting them to environmental principles and concepts through building experiences in nature.
Splash has been asked to join the new Community Based Partnership Hub, created by CAELI. Mackenzie Wieser, Splash’s CEO, is the Co-Chair of this Innovation Hub and is now a part of the CAELI Executive Committee. The Hub’s work centers on ensuring that Environmental Education nonprofits like Splash are at the policy table and can begin to advocate for both dollars and policies that drive greater impact within the state.
Vernal pools were once common in the grasslands around Sacramento, especially in the vicinity of Mather Field. The vast majority of pools have since disappeared under the plow or in the wake of expanding urban development. Experts estimate that we now see fewer than 10% of the vernal pools that existed in California in John Sutter’s time.
As late as 1869, when John Muir began writing his glowing essays on California, he had this to say:
“The Great Central Plain of California, during the months of March, April, and May, was one smooth, continuous bed of honey-bloom, so marvelously rich that, in walking from one end of it to the other, a distance of more than 400 miles, your foot would press about a hundred flowers at every step… The radiant honey-full corollas, touching and overlapping, and rising above one another, glowed in the living light like a sunset sky – one sheet of purple and gold.”
A portion of the Mather Field vernal pools escaped destruction and stand as a testimony to the truth of his words. Throughout most of the 20th century they were protected from encroaching urban development by the fences of the Air Force Base. Although many acres of vernal pools were destroyed during 80 years of Air Force occupation, those that remain constitute over ten percent of all the vernal pools left within the Sacramento County Urban Services Boundary and are now protected in the Illa Collin Conservation Preserve.