Getting Ready for the Student Watershed Watch

For the 30th year, teachers are preparing to bring the Student Watershed Watch to classrooms across northwest Ohio. The SWW has been a hallmark TMACOG program since 1989, bringing hundreds of students out to area waterways for hands-on water quality investigation every October. The program also involves classroom analysis of findings and presentation of scientific conclusions at a Student Summit held in November.

Before the students take the field in the fall, their teachers get specialized training at a summer session. This year’s training was a step up. At a full-day workshop held in August at Wildwood Preserve, teachers learned techniques and strategies that certified them as Level 1 Qualified Data Collectors. They learned biological, chemical, and physical indices that are measurements of the health of water and habitat. The training involved both classroom and in-stream practice and provided teachers with materials to use in their classrooms. Level 1 Qualified Data Collectors are prepared to collect data for educational and community science programs. This valuable data can be used by Ohio EPA to plan for more extensive monitoring in areas where water quality appears to be declining.

Teacher training was facilitated by the Ohio EPA and coordinated by TMACOG, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Scenic Rivers, and the Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District.

Sara Guiher, TMACOG Water Quality Planner and SWW lead staff, has advanced training in water analysis: in addition to the teacher training, which she is now qualified to apply to teach, she recently completed a program at the International Arctic Research Center in Fairbanks, Alaska.

She wrote, “Five days of classes were packed with climate change knowledge and GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) protocols. As a trained GLOBE educator, I can now help educators begin implementing specific sampling protocols as part of TMACOG’s Student Watershed Watch program. In a small way, our local SWW will now have national and even international impact. It is exciting to grow our region's influence and connect with educators state-wide and globally."

She wrote more about her Alaska experiences. LINK to the whole journal.
The November Student Summit will be held at the Toledo Zoo.

Teachers and their trainers practice macroinvertebrate identification skills. Different populations of larvae are indicators of levels of the health of the water habitat.

Part of the Level 1 Qualified Data Collector certification involved analysis of the physical characteristics of the habitat including stream bed composition, flow, and adjacent plant life.

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