Idea for Use in the Classroom

During the period from 2012 to 2016, the state of California suffered one of the most severe droughts in its history. Discuss with students what they know about the word “drought” and what they think of when they hear or see the word. Explain to students that drought not only impacts the land and its resources, but has economic consequences as well. Using the A State in Crisis: The California Drought infographic discuss with your students the following questions:

  • What resource is the most depleted during a drought? (Water)
  • Why would this be a concern to Californians? (Their agricultural economy depends on water.)
  • How can a drought cause a ripple effect on jobs? (Planting, harvesting, production, and selling are all affected.)
  • How do fallow (unplanted) areas impact an economy? (If the land is not used, crops are not planted, which means a loss of profit.)

Divide students into small groups and assign each group a topic to research on the drought. Suggested group topics include: water rights in California; how groundwater helped farmers but can also put a strain on communities; how tree crops can help farmers weather the drought; and using maps at Drought in California, research how drought affected particular areas at a certain time. Have each group report out to the rest of the class on their findings.

With the information discovered by each group, brainstorm as a class a proposed action plan that would be presented to a local California government about dealing with drought. Have students keep in mind how water and farming will impact the state’s economic well-being in the future. Then have students use the information they have collected to write their action plan.



the art and science of cultivating land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching).


period of greatly reduced precipitation.


a field not in use.


water found in an aquifer.


watering land, usually for agriculture, by artificial means.