2015-2016 Teacher Grants Application available!

Download application. For more information, see below and visit the website of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

Care for Our Earth Grants for Teacherscare-teachers

Santa Barbara County K-12 teachers are encouraged to apply for 2015-2016 Care for Our Earth Grants, through a program that is a collaboration of the District, the Santa Barbara County Education Office, the Santa Barbara County Water Agency, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and Southern California Gas Company. Grant applications for 2015-2016 are due November 20, 2015. Download the flyer and application. To see grants awarded in past years, visit the County Education Office Care for Our Earth Grants page.

The program offers $300 grants to teachers to do environmental service projects with students to save energy, cut traffic and pollution, or save water. See below for links and resources, and contact Mary Byrd at 805-961-8833 for more info.

 Reducing energy use

Save Energy

Examples: Students could measure energy used by particular appliances, and/or identify times when lights are left on or equipment is left plugged in and turned on. Students could review school energy bills, identify potential savings, and make presentations to principals. Students could develop and institute an energy-saving program. Grant funds could be used to purchase measuring equipment, compact fluorescent lights, plug strips, or supplies for charts and presentations, or for field trips or speakers.


Cutting traffic and pollution at schools

Cut Traffic and PollutionExamples: Students could draw map of school and neighborhoods and place pins on the map for development of “walking school buses” or multi-family carpools. Students could do a transportation survey and make recommendations to parent groups or administrators. Students could plan a celebration of “Walk to School Day” or “Bike to School Day.”


Saving Water

Examples: Students could look at ways water is used at school or home and come up with ideas for reducing use, such as replacing lawn areas with water wise gardens. Teacher could organize a field trip for students to learn more about conserving water. Students could create tools to educate others, or identify equipment to purchase to reduce water use. See the Water Wise website for more info on conserving water.

Outdoor Air Quality and Schools

  • Weather, winds, the path of wildfires, and other factors can change quickly and affect air quality, so it is important to be aware of conditions at a particular school site
  • Schools may need to reschedule outdoor activities

For more information, see our new fact sheet on Outdoor Air Quality and Schools:


Classroom Presentations

Wheel of Change

The District offers countywide classroom presentations for K-12th grades and college classes with lessons on our atmosphere, air pollution, global climate change, and what we can do to make a difference.

Presentations can be tailored to the particular focus and level of the class, and can include a game using the Wheel of Change (pictured below from District Public Outreach Intern Karly Kaufman).

To schedule a presentation, contact Mary Byrd at the District at 805-961-8833. See more resources on this page.


Mr. Eco Presentations

The District sponsored assemblies in some Santa Barbara County schools to bring in Mr. Eco, an environmental rap superhero who teaches elementary school students that they have the power to protect the environment as “EcoHeroes”.  Mr. Eco’s shows are not only educational, but also extremely engaging as students learn environmental song lyrics and dance moves, answer jeopardy questions, and feel empowered to make change in the environment at a young age. For more information and all of Mr. Eco’s videos, visit his website.


Mr. Eco, his sidekick and nephew Lil Nico, and District Public Outreach Intern Chris Hewes


Students take the EcoHero pledge after learning about protecting ecosystems, wildfire, and clean air. 

Information on this Site

Safe Routes to School discusses efforts to encourage kids to bike or walk to school (or carpool or take the bus).

Air Pollutants & Your Health describes the pollutants of greatest concern in Santa Barbara County, and their health effects.

Today’s Air Quality provides air quality information for Santa Barbara County.

Ozone data shows levels of ground-level ozone measured at county monitoring stations, updated hourly on this website.

Toolkit to Reduce Diesel Emissions at Schools provides resources for schools to hear about effects of diesel exhaust pollution, and reduce emissions.

Classroom Activities and Lesson Plans

Air Quality and Air Pollution

Videos are available free in English and Spanish from the California Air Resources Board, click on the title to go to the order page on the state’s website: “A Breath of Air: What Pollution is Doing to Our Children,” and “With Every Breath: Health Effects of Smog”.

Lessons and activities for K-12 from Project A.I.R.E. (Air Information Resources for Educators) are available for download (free) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website.

Air Pollution: What’s the Solution? activities from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency curricula help students learn about ground-level ozone.

The National Science Teachers Association includes lesson plans and activities to teach air quality concepts – search at NSTA Science Store under the term of interest.

The California Air Resources Board website’s Know Zone page includes information on air pollution, lesson plans, and resources for students: www.arb.ca.gov/knowzone/knowzone.htm.

Alternative transportation

Safe Routes to School Lesson Plans for the Classroom , developed by Marin County teachers, includes plans for multiple grade levels. (For more on the Safe Routes to School program locally, see this page.)

For more information on local programs encouraging alternative transportation, see Traffic Solutions’ webpage here:  www.trafficsolutions.info.

Community Events

Community events like Earth Day offer an opportunity to showcase environmental education projects. Read more about Earth Day.

Additional Links for Teachers and Schools

National Science Teachers Association

The CREEC Network (California Regional Environmental Education Community Network) — Information about environmental education resources for teachers, including a Resource Directory for Region 8 (Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, and Kern Counties). See http://www.creec.org/custom/14.

EPA Office of Environmental Education — Kids’ page, teachers’ page, regional programs, students’ page

School Health page from California Air Resources Board — Environmental health conditions at schools and resources to reduce pollution

American Lung Association — How Your Lungs Work

Think Earth Environmental Education Program — Curriculum for middle school about conserving natural resources, reducing waste, and minimizing pollution

Safe Routes to Schools — Lesson Plans for the Classroom developed by Marin County teachers for multiple grade levels

Children’s Health Protection — Information on protecting children’s health from environmental hazards

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection — Curriculum and classroom activities

US Department of Energy Fuel Economy Guide — See how your car measures up

NASA’s Classroom of the Future

NASA Earth Science Enterprise — Teacher guides

National Environmental Education Foundation

IAQ Tools for Schools Program — EPA’s program on indoor air quality

US Department of Education

UCI Science Education Programs — Science education programs for teachers