Happy Student GREEN Congress month! Following the strangest school year we’ve experienced, and a full year after needing to cancel our Congress event for the first time in nearly three decades, we organized the first ever Virtual Student GREEN Congress event this month alongside our partners at Nisqually River Education Project. Changing a live, activity-packed event at the Evergreen State College into an entirely virtual experience was a challenge we were both excited and nervous to take on, but are thrilled with how it turned out.
We were determined to design all of our Congress aspects with equity in mind. Live Zoom events offered more opportunity to work directly with students and community partners, but classes have needed to juggle their lessons with coordinating students returning back to school in a hybrid model. To accommodate this, we provided teachers with synchronous and asynchronous options for all of our activities – live Zoom sessions for those who could make it, and video recordings to be shown at a later time if needed. By offering both options, we were able to preserve all of the normal features of Congress. This included an engaging State of the Rivers session, where students used a Story map and journal to examine and compare local water quality, as well as hands-on workshops, with materials provided and packed by our amazing community partners (thank you to Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Mount Rainier National Park, GRuB, and Brittany Burkhardt!). This all led to our keynote and closing ceremony, where Evergreen State College professor Dr. Carri LeRoy gave a fascinating presentation about the unbelievable world of stream bugs (or “aquatic monsters”!), and students got to watch themselves on the big screen sharing out their ideas for how to improve our watershed health.
Overall, the event was unlike anything we’d done before, but we’re so proud with how it turned out. And a big part of the success is due to our teachers – amidst all the chaos of the changing school situation, you found the time and energy to incorporate Student GREEN Congress into your plans! Thank you teachers! And we’re not stopping here – keep an eye out for our brand new benthic macroinvertebrates activity coming soon, and virtual nearshore field trips coming this spring!