Education and outreach are essential for providing community members with the knowledge they need to understand, restore and protect the health of their watershed.
Watershed Action Teams for Education, Restoration, and Stewardship (WATERS)
The WATERS program is a scalable, regional approach to field-based environmental education and public outreach. We engage local middle and high school students in field-based, hands-on, inquiry-based education associated with a specific habitat restoration effort. Through cooperative partnerships with other local watershed councils, schools, private landowners, and public agencies, we seek to provide students with field learning activities which increase their understanding of natural processes.
Our programs accommodate a variety of educational needs and school administrative and schedule constraints, through a multi-modal approach, and in collaboration with a variety of federal, state and local community partners. Over 1,700 students from eight public school districts participate in the following:
- Team-based watershed assessment and monitoring with 24 teams composed of students from local middle and high schools. Students participate in one full-day field outing each month throughout the school year, and(
- In-class curriculum combined with field trip opportunities for students from 35 local middle and high schools in grades 6-12 focused on watershed ecology through the lens of salmon biology; middle and high school students visit a site of active salmon spawning and experience one full school day of field-based, hands-on activities designed specifically to engage all styles of learners.
The Program promotes community understanding and stewardship through the direct involvement of middle and high school students in monitoring and restoration activities. Data and results are shared with landowners and the public through the annual newsletters, community meetings, and direct mailings. Partnerships with school districts, private landowners, local and federal agencies, and other organizations create a network of individuals and organizations capable of implementing a variety of projects. The program stresses the development of projects that protect and restore habitat and water quality. Monitoring data collected by students will help track success of historic and current restoration project.
Salmon Watch is an experiential, environmental education curriculum centered in salmon ecology. Local middle and high school teachers use in-class curriculum covering the salmon life cycle and ecological needs of salmon to teach everything from science and math to literature and history. In the field trip component of this curriculum, volunteer educators teach local students about salmon and watershed ecology through the use of four education stations. Focusing on water quality, riparian ecology, fish biology and macroinvertebrates, students perform field-based activities and experiments and then record observations. These trips are school-based and occur Monday-Friday.
Volunteers are integral to the success of this program and come from a variety of sources and backgrounds; local government agencies and utility companies, outdoor sporting groups, retired teachers, recent graduates, and college students. Volunteering with the Salmons and best of all, provide an opportunity for local area students to get out of the classroom and out onto our local streams and rivers.