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The City of Watsonville kicked off 2018 with fabulous tree-planting fervor, rooting 105 trees at our local parks throughout the spring season, and launching our first-ever tree photo contest on social media, the #watsonvilleurbanforest - #watsonvillebosqueurbano Photo Sharing Contest. Any day of the week you can search your social media channels and find a photo montage of posts highlighting our natural settings, trees of epic proportions, flowering branches, and vibrant bird species. Every tree photo is unique and artistic, and our Watsonville trees as subjects are no exception. Encouraging our Watsonville and Pajaro Valley residents to bring attention to our urban forest, we asked our community to start snapping pictures of their most beloved Watsonville-area species. These photos and short videos flooded our social media feeds while hundreds of dedicated volunteers showed up at our events, getting their hands dirty while supporting the growth of new life. Photos generate excitement about our expanding Watsonville Urban Forest Revitalization Project, a partnership with Watsonville Wetlands Watch, the City's Parks and Community Services Division, and our Public Works team. Over the next year and beyond we will continue to plant roughly 300 trees and 800 shrubs and grasses to enhance beautification, provide shade for our residents and wildlife, create habitat, sequester carbon, and improve the environmental quality of our air and wetlands.
Scroll through OASIS's Instagram feed or website and you will understand why they'd excel at an outdoor photo sharing contest. OASIS is an action-packed school for teens and young adults with autism. Their program combines frequent outdoor exercise with community interaction and functional curriculum, with the primary goal of achieving maximum engagement and developing real-world skills for the road ahead. Their faculty recognize that students need activity and movement, and they integrate outdoor time in their daily experience. While each student has their very own station where they can focus on seated work, remaining attuned to the natural world is a crucial component of the organization's learning ethic. Small groups of students and staff visit State Parks, our local beaches, lakes, wetlands, and more to integrate nature into their curriculum. Their winning photo for our Youth Tree category was chosen by unanimous vote and was taken on a beautiful day along our coast.
Susan Walton, OASIS School Director, spoke to the students connection to Watsonville's trees. “OASIS is a family business and we submitted this photo that shows that both the students and their siblings love being surrounded by our local trees and in the outdoors. This was taken at Manresa Campgrounds at the beginning of a particularly wonderful day."
As their prize, OASIS will receive recognition on City media platforms as well as a $100 gift certificate to a location of their choosing. It's clear that these students love our trees, so much so that you will often find them up trees, under trees, even finding trees (Christmas trees on the beach?!), or next to trees in places like Pinto Lake Park, our local redwood groves, and along our coast. Thank you to our OASIS staff and students for sharing your love and speaking for the trees. Get outside and hug one!