Celebrating the Student Watershed Watch

by Sara Guiher, TMACOG Water Quality Planner

We have mayflies on the brain lately, and that works perfectly this year. This is 2019, TMACOG’s year of the mayfly and the 30th anniversary of the TMACOG Student Watershed Watch (SWW)! In case you are not familiar, let’s start with a little background on the SWW. The program began in 1989 as the Maumee Bay Watershed Project, a partnership of TMACOG, University of Toledo, and the Maumee River Area of Concern (AOC) Remedial Action Plan Implementation Committee.During the last 30 years, the SWW has grown beyond the Maumee watershed into surrounding communities, engaging up to 1,000 students per year in water quality testing. We provide teachers in grades 5-12 with training and supplies so that they can give their students hands-on environmental science experience. Our mission is to encourage stewardship of our area waterways by getting educators and young people out in the water. Since 1989 more than 22,000 students have participated in this valuable program!

There are two main components to the SWW: water quality sampling and the Student Summit. Every October, students head to area rivers and streams for sampling to measure multiple parameters including pH, phosphates, nitrates, turbidity, and aquatic macroinvertebrate communities. These communities often include mayflies, which students learn are a positive thing – thriving mayfly populations indicate good water quality! Together, these parameters give the students an idea of the water quality in an area. In November many of the students who tested water quality will gather to present results to their peers at the Student Summit. This mini scientific conference does more than allow young scientists to hone presentation skills; guest speakers are also on hand to tell students about the many options available to those who want to enter environmental fields.

This year is extra special because we are planning big things for the 30th anniversary!

In June we are incorporating SWW water testing with another exciting program – Canoemobile – which will allow participants to take a canoe trip on the water that they sample.
Educators can prepare for fall sampling in August, when we team with Ohio EPA and Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District to offer OEPA certified Level 1 Qualified Data Collector training.
Because teachers are the reason that the SWW continues to be a success, we will have a special event in 2019 to appreciate their hard work and dedication to students.
And as always, SWW will help teachers throughout the year to find appropriate guest speakers to enhance classroom coverage of specific topics.

Just as a large swarm of mayflies says good things about water, a large, supportive community is a good sign for the Student Watershed Watch. Whether through sponsorships, donations, or volunteer hours, we can only provide these opportunities to teachers and students with the support of our partners. If you want to join the SWW team, please reach out and we will find an option that works for your organization. Contact Sara Guiher for detailed program information and volunteer opportunities: 419.241.9155, ext. 1147.

One of the mayfly species found by SWW participants in 2018.

Students in the Maumee River at Side Cut Metropark for the 2018
SWW sampling day.

A winning class at the 2018 Student Summit.

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