Disney Environmentality Challenge

Back in 1997, vernal pools seemed to be the Sacramento Valley’s best kept secret. These rare, ephemeral wetlands were unique to California but were being destroyed at an alarming rate; in 1997 less than 90% still existed. By using the vernal pools at Sacramento’s Mather Field as an educational resource and a living laboratory, Eva Butler hoped to create a constituency for their long-term protection.

Her opportunity came by way of invitation from a friend. In the fall of 1997, Suzanne Womack, a fifth-grade teacher at Crocker Riverside Elementary School, asked her biologist friend Eva Butler to suggest ideas for an environmental project that her students could enter into the 1998 Disney Environmentality Challenge. Over the next few years, they worked together to shape a curriculum to enable fifth graders to learn science and environmental stewardship by investigating and exploring the vernal pools at Mather Field.