Recycling and Water Stewardship

Our vision is one of students, educators and community members working in partnership to rethink learning communities in the 21st century. Together we envision numerous pathways for students to achieve academic success, as well as college and career readiness. Teachers, supported by the New Leaf Collaborative, are encouraged to work in their areas of their strengths and are supported by a network of community partnerships that link learning to real life exploration.  Our learning community seeks to build intergenerational connection, appreciate the best of what is working, empower the possible and guide the process of personal and cultural transformation toward ecological and human vitality.

If you have a grant or community connection you’d like help to develop, please contact us.

Our current programs include:

Recycling Ambassadors Program


With the help of the City of Martinez, Republic Services, and New Leaf Collaborative, the four elementary schools in Martinez, CA were given valuable lessons on Ecoliteracy to help with the transition of new Recycle and Compost bins in their lunch rooms.  Check out this video to hear from the elementary school students who participated and the high school students who helped lead the program:


The New Leaf Collaborative is working with the City of Martinez, Republic Services, and the Martinez Unified School District to implement CalRecycle’s highly competitive Beverage Container Recycle Grant Program.  Martinez is one of only two cities to successfully apply for the 2015 funding.

Our collaborative program is designed as a comprehensive project that would improve recycling practices throughout Martinez schools. This project builds on the success of the pilot recycling project Martinez and Republic Services initiated at Martinez Junior High School in early 2014 and the New Leaf Leadership Academy’s Ecoliteracy Peer Mentoring Project.

The “Recycling Ambassador” program will foster responsible environmental stewards through a progressive approach to hands-on, project based learning. The program will also provide the added benefit of giving recent high school graduates the opportunity to learn valuable professional skills for future green careers. Additional project grant funding will pay for 40 high-quality recycle bins to be placed in city parks and throughout the downtown core.

Teachers from the 4 MUSD elementary schools will be working the New Leaf to create Green Teams that will encourage recycling education and increase amount of recycling collected by Republic Services each week.  Students from Vicente Martinez and Alhambra High Schools will provide the education and monitoring at each school.

Integrated Watershed Education Program

The City of Martinez and the New Leaf Collaborative have joined efforts to 1) implement an essential element of the Clean Water Program, which serves to radically reduce or eliminate pollutants from entering the municipal storm drain system; and 2) to encourage citizens to meet the 25% mandatory reduction of water use to conserve water resources.  This plan includes the facilitation of high school internships that provided water quality and water conservation education to students within in the Martinez Unified School District. Place-based Learning training is also offered to teachers through the Empowering Educators workshops.

Mutual Goals:

  • Build and maintain an effective partnership that encourages collaboration between city employees and K-12 educators
  • Create and implement an education plan that addresses the need to radically reduce or eliminate pollutants from the city’s storm drain system and reduces landfill waste.
  • Link youth to job skills, employment, internships and mentorships while providing pathways to work in the 21st century market.
  • Promote place-based and transformative education (which links learning with community-based projects in ways that facilitate the holistic change of individuals and groups)
  • Establish a reproducible, sustainable partnership model that promotes student leadership


Ecoliteracy Peer Mentoring Project and Internship:

The Ecoliteracy Project was designed to be a model of intra-school and community collaboration in ways that promote the care and stewardship of our city, our creeks and our bay.  In this project, Martinez Unified students from grades K-5 have the opportunity to participate in grade appropriate, hands-on, place-based education about water quality, water conservation and watershed health.  Over the last 10 years, student interns have taught more than 6,000 elementary students.

The high school students develop resumes and cover letters in order to apply for the Ecoliteracy  (EcoLit) Internship.  The Ecolit Coordinator and graduate intern interviewed the high school applicants in November.  Once hired, the team work every Friday to develop and/or teach the lessons.  The high school student’s training was integrated into their regular school day.  Ecolit interns teach the elementary school students lessons in soil and water conservation.   A video highlighting the best of Ecolit 2015 can be found on YouTube at “Ecolit 2015” at

Community Science Internship:

The NLC Community Science Workshop offers high school students in-school and after school internships to work with elementary school students in fostering curiosity and open ended exploration of science. Interns help young learners make connections as to why science is important to them and relevant in their lives. In CSW’s, high school students participate weekly in activities that fostered STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and focused critical thinking.  Interns are required to apply and be interviewed (same process as noted above) for this internship.  CSW water-quality and conservation lessons include hands-on projects, displays and informative exhibits that focus on water quality, watershed stewardship and potable water conservation practices.

Click here to view large images of some of their finished products.  

A video highlighting the best of Ecolit 2015 can be found on YouTube at “Martinez Community Science Workshop” at


Rainwater Ambassadors:

The NLC has worked with Lunchbox International to provide the professional expertise for rainwater catchment system training and installation.  In this program, high school students are oriented to the issues of water conservation and rainwater catchment education through guest speaker presentations and offered job experience in rainwater catchment installation. 

A video about the installation process can be found on YouTube at: “Rainwater Catchment Installation”