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Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM PST

This event has passed. Check out the event recording!


School district staff and representatives from across Los Angeles County, organizations who partner with school districts on living schoolyard projects, and municipalities and water agencies, and other partners interested in school greening projects.


Panel 1 will share some of the latest research around the benefits of living schoolyards and resources for developing a process to review, plan, implement, and maintain living schoolyard projects. Presenters will include Pacific Institute and Earth Economics. We want to learn from participants:  What resources are still needed?

Panel 2 will share strategies for partnerships with school districts, municipalities, and water agencies towards implementing mutually beneficial projects. Panelists include representatives from Philadelphia School District, San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, and Amigos de los Rios.

Spanish Interpretation Available! 

In our commitment to inclusivity and accessibility we will be offering live Spanish interpretation during the entire event.

¡Traducción al español en vivo!

Como parte de nuestro compromiso con la inclusividad y la accesibilidad, nos complace anunciar que ofreceremos traducción en vivo al español durante todo el evento.

Don't miss this unique opportunity to meet other attendees and potential partners from your area to exchange ideas and be inspired to make a positive impact on the future of our region’s school campuses.

This event is funded by the Land-Sea Connection program of Resources Legacy Fund made possible by the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment.

Panel 1
Asset Mapping and Gap Analysis

Panel 1

Mikaela Randolph

Senior Watershed Specialist

Heal the Bay

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Understanding the Potential for Stormwater Capture on Schools in LA County

Dr. Sonali Abraham
Senior Researcher

Pacific Institute

Dr. Sonali Abraham conducts qualitative and quantitative research into urban water use trends, development of watershed-scale metrics and the role of multi-benefit projects in water and climate resiliency. She received an MS in Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and a Doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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The next generation of school yards: lessons from the watershed discovery campus

Laura Villegas

Senior Researcher

Earth Economics

Laura is an enthusiastic environmental economist with the heart of an ecological economist. She grew up with German Shepherds in a small town in the Colombian Andes and now lives in Idaho. She loves mountains and her family most of all—but also data, maps and exploring creative ways to apply sound and robust methods in the face of uncertainty and limited data availability. She specializes in ecosystem service valuation and is well versed in spatial techniques. She is fluent in English and Spanish and has expert knowledge of Latin America and East Africa. Laura centers her research around questions of environmental justice and sustainability to inform decision making. Her passion for consistency drives her energy, rigor, creativity, and technical expertise, as well as questions about the ethical implications of economic analyses.

Caring For your New Native Plant/Stormwater Capture Campus—A School Foundation and District Partnership Model

Monica Campagna

Lead Caretaker

Franklin Elementary Native Plant Beds (Glendale Unified School District)

Monica Campagna is lead caretaker of the native plants at Franklin Elementary, in Glendale Unified School District. Her work is funded by the Benjamin Franklin Elementary Foundation, with whom she served as Green Team Chair for several years when her son, now in high school, attended the elementary school. She is a steering member of the Glendale Environmental Coalition, whom she’s worked with since 2017 to shape energy policy and encourage local, clean energy projects, waste reduction and other sustainability initiatives. She was a member of the PTA Green Lunchroom Committee at Franklin, where she assisted with the transition to organic waste separation for offsite composting and a return to reusable dishware with the installation of a dishwasher. This pilot program led her to work with Senator Portantino, who acquired $15 million for dishwashers for K-12 schools in this year's CA budget. Monica’s work in environmental stewardship and connection began during her arts career as a choreographer and Artistic Director of TRIP Dance Theatre in Los Angeles.

Schoolyard Greening- For the Planet and the People!

Cindy Hardin

Director of Outdoor Education

Nature Nexus Institute

Cindy Hardin began her work showing students the wonders of the Great Outdoors in 1999 as a Volunteer Naturalist at the Ballona Wetlands. Over the years she has guided field trips at Ballona, Franklin Canyon and the Baldwin Hills Parklands. Her work as the Director of Outdoor Education for Nature Nexus Institute includes managing a group of over 30 hard working volunteers that help to provide outdoor field trips to over 3,000 students annually. She has created a curriculum for these trips that support State Science Standards appropriate to each group’s grade level, and encourages all to “look up, down and all around”, fostering student-led discovery and hands-on learning. Prior to each field trip, Cindy visits each and every school that participates in her programs. On campus bird watching is often a component of these visits, and the students are always eager to show her green spaces on their campus, no matter how small in size. Training teachers to key off this student enthusiasm in order to enhance science studies has been a particularly rewarding part of her professional duties. And if a campus is fortunate enough to have large, intentionally developed outdoor learning spaces, the benefits often manifest in improved test scores for the students. Cindy is grateful that the importance of getting students outside to amplify their education experience is being recognized and supported on a greater level. In her spare time she tries to spend as much time as possible outside, and swims in the ocean almost every day, all year round. Her favorite mode of transportation is her beloved bicycle.


Emily Cobar

Community Program Director

Nature Nexus Institute

Emily is the Community Program Director at Nature Nexus Institute, a nonprofit organization that focuses on access to nature through education and habitat restoration. Emily leads many environmental education programs for varying audiences from inner-city elementary school students to high school students to community college students.  She is co-founder and co-instructor at the West Los Angeles College Conservation Studies Certificate Program. She enjoys teaching about the natural history of Los Angeles, including topics such as water conservation, plant communities, urban wildlife, geology, and more.

Panel 2

Panel 2
School District/Water Agency Partnerships


​Eileen Alduenda

Executive Director

Council for Watershed Health

Event Resources
Community Partnerships Beyond the Classroom

Evelyn Reyes

External Affairs Manager

San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District

Evelyn Reyes began her tenure at the District in August 2014. She has 16 years of experience in community and government affairs. Evelyn manages educational and community outreach, government outreach to local, state and federal legislators, and water conservation programs for the District.

Prior to joining the District, Evelyn was a Senior Field Representative for U.S. Representative Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32) serving as a local liaison on water and transportation issues. Evelyn earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from University of California, Riverside.

Each School Project as a Microcosm of the Watershed

Claire Robinson

Executive Director

Amigos de los Rios

Claire Robinson is founder and serves as Managing Director of 501©3, Amigos de los Rios, the

‘Emerald Necklace Group’ in Los Angeles, California. Her multi-disciplinary background in art & design education, sustainable city planning and business has led to unique success of Amigos in catalyzing a collective impact coalition of agencies, to plan and develop a culturally relevant Emerald Necklace Natural Infrastructure network in East LA County. Amigos embraces community based design processes to improve presence of nature and quality of life within cities and specifically within disadvantaged communities.


Amigos’ work is based on a native plant palette to promote sustainable life within public spaces within the LA BASIN watersheds and we are inspired by the 1929 Olmsted Bartholomew Plan for LA Metro Area. Amigos has pioneered creation of Emerald Necklace ‘Watershed Discovery Campuses’ –  where each school is microcosm of greater watershed integrating natural infrastructure elements into schools for the physical fitness, mental health and academic performance benefits they confer.


Claire has a BArch from Cooper Union, an MBA from UCLA, and studied European Cities at University of East London. She is committed to mentoring women and designers of color into field of natural infrastructure planning, and has taught at RISD, Carleton University in Canada, served as visiting faculty for myriad schools including Harvard GSD, and USC.


She has served as member of USDA National Urban & Community Forestry Advisory Council, San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Community Collaborative, and LA Center for Urban Natural Resources Sustainability, Metropolitan Green space Alliance, ENVIROMETRO and ‘Nature for All’ in Los Angeles.


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The School District of Philadelphia Green Infrastructure Program

Emma Lynn Melvin

Green Infrastructure Program Manager

School District of Philadelphia

Emma Melvin has worked in the green infrastructure field since 2006, installing GSI, educating communities, schools and municipalities on these systems and how they protect and improve their community. Emma worked with organizations such as UVM Sea Grant, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and American Littoral Society. She currently oversees the GSI maintenance on 57 School District of Philadelphia school campuses.


Event Resources

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