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 raise up their EcoHero symbols and take the EcoHero pledge after learning about protecting ecosystems, wildlife, and clean air.

 Care for Our Earth Grants for Teachers

Santa Barbara County K-12 teachers were encouraged to apply for 2014-2015 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, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Grant applications for 2014-2015 were due November 21, 2014. Click here to view the flyer and application used for this program, and to see grants awarded in past years, please visit the County Education Office Care for Our Earth Grants page.

The program offers $250 grants to teachers to do environmental service projects with students to save energy, cut traffic and pollution, or save water. Other air and water related projects will be considered for $250 grants, and $500 grants will be considered on a case-by-case basis. See below for links and resources, and contact Mary Byrd at 805-961-8833 for more info. For information on previous 2013-2014 grants, see this page.

 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.

Teachers Awarded Grants in 2012

 Last year, twenty-eight teachers from eight school districts countywide were recognized by the Santa Barbara County Education Office with Care for our Earth grants for classroom projects at the 2012 Teachers Network Grant Recognition Dinner Feb. 23, sponsored by the Southern California Gas Company at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton. The Care for Our Earth Grants were developed through a partnership with the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, the Southern California Gas Company, and the Santa Barbara County Education Office’s Teachers Network. This year the program received additional support from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Tina McEnroe-Rancho La Purisima, and the Bill Denneen Environmental Awards. The Care for Our Earth program offers grants to fourth to 12th grade teachers who implement an environmental service project with their students to save energy or reduce traffic and pollution at the school. Santa Barbara County Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf, a member of the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District Board of Directors, and Dave Van Mullem, director of the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, presented the awards. See Grant Descriptions and additional information posted on the Santa Barbara County Education Office website.

Care for our Earth 2012 Teachers

Pictured (left to right):  Dave Van Mullem, APCD director; Lisa McNeil, Adam School; 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf, member of the APCD Board; John Livingston, Santa Ynez Valley Charter School; Joy Snyder, Adam School, Santa Maria; Chris Scott, Santa Ynez Elementary School; Crystal Dominguez, Santa Maria High School Special Education; Mona Gros, Santa Maria High School Special Education; Lisa Savaso, Joe Nightingale School, Orcutt; Bettina Knox, Dos Pueblos High School; Mary Burch, Lompoc High School; Riccardo Magni, Pioneer Valley High School, Santa Maria; Emma Rodriguez, Delta High School in Santa Maria; Lori Lee Collins, Carpinteria Family School; Donna Ehret, Adam School; Catherine Ulrich, Santa Maria Jt. Union High School District Home School Program; Tammie Castillo Shiffer, Pioneer Valley High School; Kelly VanAllen, Pine Grove Elementary School, Orcutt; Laura Branch, Righetti High School; Juliana Zellers, Santa Maria Jt. Union High School District Home School Program; Deanne Rosing, Santa Maria Jt. Union High School District Home School Program.

Teachers Awarded Grants in 2011

Twenty-two county teachers in nine school districts were awarded “Care for Our Earth” grants in February of 2011. To view descriptions of the grant projects, see this issue of the District newsletter. The teachers are conducting projects with their students to save energy or cut traffic and pollution at school sites.

Teacher grant winners

Several of the teachers earning 2011 Care for our Earth grants were honored at a Santa Barbara County Education Office event in February. Back row from left: Riccardo Magni, Pioneer Valley High School, Santa Maria Jt. Union High District ; Lori Collins, Carpinteria Family School, Carpinteria Unified School District; Michael Muscio, Santa Maria-Bonita School District; Kelly VanAllen, Pine Grove School, Orcutt Union School District; Lise Pawley, Alice Shaw School, Orcutt Union School District; Kevin Reed, Rincon High School, Carpinteria Unified School District; Christopher Scott, Santa Ynez School, College School District; and Laura Branch, Righetti High School, Santa Maria Jt. Union High School District. And front row from left: Valerie Trenev, Alice Shaw School, Orcutt Union School District; Emma Rodriguez, Delta High School, Santa Maria Jt. Union High School District; Lisa Savaso, Alice Shaw School, Orcutt Union School District; Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr, a District Board Member who represented the District at the event; Lee Ann Knodel, Santa Barbara High School, Santa Barbara Secondary School District; and Mary Byrd, District Public Information Officer.

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 with District Public Outreach Intern Karly Kaufman).

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

The District also makes presentations for clubs and afterschool programs, and attends science nights and other school events.

school presentations

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 such as Earth Day offer an opportunity to showcase environmental education projects. Shop teacher Mike Shallenberger (left) was honored with an air pollution education grant from the APCD and the Santa Barbara County Education Office. He and his students at La Cumbre Junior High School in Santa Barbara converted a diesel Mercedes to run on 100% waste vegetable oil from a local restaurant. The students added a second fuel system to the car, with a tank in the trunk for the vegetable oil, a filtering system, and a hot-water circulation system. Said one student: “Before this project, I never knew that a car could run on vegetable oil. I learned a lot about how cars work, too.” The project was showcased at the South Coast Earth Day Festival. See more information on countywide events: Earth Day.

Additional Links and Resources for Schools

The CREEC Network (California Regional Environmental Education Community Network) has 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.

US EPA’s 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.

How Your Lungs Work (American Lung Association)