In 2015, MWDOC launched a CHOICE high school program through a partnership with the Orange County Department of Education, and their award-winning Inside the Outdoors (ITO) education program. By opting in to the program, water agencies and cities throughout Orange County were offered an opportunity to collaboratively bring students in grades 9-12, comprehensive classroom instruction about where California water comes from, and what challenges water professionals face delivering water to homes, businesses, industry, and agriculture all over the state.
The CHOICE high school program consists of three visits to each participating high school each year, by ITO’s “Traveling Scientists.” On the first visit, students are educated about where California water comes from and how to be more water efficient. On the second visit, students review briefing books on the California WaterFix and EcoRestore projects, and then debate the merits of the proposed projects in class. For the final visit, students are asked to organize a schoolwide expo with ITO staff and share all they have learned about California’s water supply and its many challenges with other students in their schools.
In an effort to provide water education and resources to additional high schools, beginning with the 2017-18 school year, MWDOC has incorporated a condensed version of the CHOICE high school program into the CORE budget. This CORE program includes a digital resource guide for students and teachers with training and support videos, a contact list to subject matter speakers organized by expertise, and a one-time, interactive, “Traveling Scientist” classroom presentation for teachers who integrate at least two elements of the resource guide into their lesson plans. This classroom component provides students an overview of the science, economics, and history of Orange County water.