Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, a community organization that works closely with the SJSU Center for Community Learning and Leadership and CommUniverCity, has received a 2015 Outstanding Environmental Project award from the Friends of the San Francisco Estuary.
“This award demonstrates the value of collaboration, as a community of stewards, to raise awareness, educate, restore and preserve our precious waterways,” said CCLL Director Michael Fallon. “On yet another front, the partnership between SJSU, the city of San Jose, and environmental organizations is benefiting our community.”
More than 200 SJSU students and faculty members have been volunteering their time and talent to help clean and care for Coyote Creek, a 64-mile long waterway spanning Henry Coe Park near Gilroy, San Jose, and the San Francisco Bay.
A multidisciplinary approach
Spartan volunteers include faculty members and students from the departments of Environmental Studies and MIS (Management Information Systems), and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Volunteer Mary Yan, ’16 Environmental Studies, appreciates Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful Program Manager Deb Kramer’s passion and attitude “about bringing organizations together to work towards the same goals.”
“All the issues and connections to the creek are very interesting to me,” Yan said. “I am hoping that Coyote Creek becomes a successful restoration story one day without any reason to continue cleaning it up.”
Coyote Creek is a wildlife habitat and location for an important steelhead trout restoration project. Bike and hiking trails line the banks, which have also become a refuge for the homeless.
Acutely aware of the need to mitigate the environmental impact of homeless camps while caring for those who live there, SJSU advertising and public relations faculty members and students organized Coyote Creek Howl, a one-day summit in April focusing on ecological and human issues.
Communication studies students produced “Journey Through Homelessness: Silicon Valley’s Unsolved Problem,” described as “a thought and emotion provoking performance that immersed the audience into a world ignored by the masses and experienced by the few.”
On Oct. 2, SJSU hosted the premiere of “Exodus from the Jungle,” a documentary on the closure of the nation’s largest homeless encampment, which was located within a mile of campus, on the banks of Coyote Creek.
As a new academic year begins, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful continues to connect this generation of Spartans with service-learning opportunities. The goal? Gifting a vibrant watershed, and the knowledge of how to rally community support to protect it, to future generations.