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The Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District and its partners are overjoyed at the success our Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) at Benjamin Franklin Middle School (BFMS) in Rocky Mount, Virginia. BFMS’s two-week MWEE program on Powder Mill Creek was held in March & April, 2017 for 600 sixth-graders. The first week consisted of classroom instruction by dedicated employees from Western Virginia Water Authority, Ferrum College, and BFMS Science teachers. The second week, “Creek Week,” was spent collecting, observing and testing physical, biological and chemical parameters of Powder Mill Creek. The next BFMS MWEE is planned for April 2018. Partners include BFMS, Western Virginia Water Authority, Ferrum College, Blue Ridge Soil and Water Conservation District, Roanoke Valley Greenways, Franklin County E & S Dept., Franklin County Public Schools and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Teresa Reed, with the Mountain Soil and Water Conservation District, has been working with over one hundred fifth graders in Alleghany County School on mini-MWEEs. In the fall of 2016, Ms. Reed worked with the students on a variety of projects, including: ocean resource conservation; ocean pollution and clean-up, and oil spills in particular; flooding and its effects within watersheds; and bio-monitoring stream health with macroinvertebrates (including the “Build a Bug” activity. In addition, two classes from Callaghan Elementary also had an opportunity to go on a field trip to Lake Moomaw and the headwaters region for the Jackson River. Groups of students tested the river water for temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, nitrate, phosphate, and turbidity. The groups averaged their water quality scores, and gave the headwaters region of the Jackson River an “A” for water quality. The students also learned how environmental and human-related factors affects their watersheds.
In the fall of 2016, the Shenandoah Valley Soil & Water Conservation District (SVSWCD) hosted two days of Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences for over 200 10th graders from Broadway High School. At this MWEE, the students preformed water quality testing, a visual assessment of the stream, and benthic macroinvertebrate sampling and identification. Students were given a brief introduction on water quality and stream health by teachers. SVSWCD staff built on this knowledge not only by reviewing and explaining the various water quality tests, but also by discussing local land use and how land use impacts water quality. Staff also discussed how certain conservation practices can improve water quality. Teachers and SVSWCD staff followed up with students at the end of the MWEE discussing the student’s findings, specifically how they interpreted the water quality results from the day to explain the health of the stream and surrounding watershed.
The Shenandoah Valley Soil & Water Conservation District (SVSWCD) assisted with a classroom presentation for nearly a hundred 4th grade students at Cub Run Elementary School in Rockingham County in November 2016. The classroom presentation focused on water quality, land use, and watersheds. SVSWCD staff used the Enviroscape Model to highlight how their actions on the surface of the earth affects water quality all the way to the Chesapeake Bay. The teacher provided students with an overview of watersheds and potential water quality issues before the visit. The teacher then continued the discussion with students following the visit by connecting with a 4th grade class in another state through a blog. The teacher provided the following feedback about the classroom visit: “Our fourth graders were spell bound with the engaging presentation. The interactive visual style of instruction was fabulous. Thank you for helping us teach these important Chesapeake Bay Watershed concepts and life skills of protecting our water resources.”