Monthly Update: November 2020

The chum salmon are back in McLane Creek!

November means that the chum salmon are back in Thurston County! At South Sound GREEN, we’ve been working hard to put together an alternative to our usual McLane Creek Nature Trail field trips. With our friends at Nisqually River Education Project and Thurston County StreamTeam, we created the McLane Creek Nature Trail Digital Notebook for students to learn about salmon spawning and the importance of salmon from the comfort of their homes. In addition, we wanted to recreate the experience of watching live salmon, and ended up hosting 28 virtual McLane Creek salmon field trips! Students loved having the chance to observe salmon spawning activities and ask questions in real time, and we loved getting the opportunity to work with new and returning teachers!

Now, as the chum salmon run comes to an end, we’re beginning to host virtual salmon dissections and creating even more educational materials for classes. And somehow we’re already at the end of the year! Stay safe and stay tuned for more exciting virtual (and hopefully in-person) environmental education opportunities in 2021!

Updates, Water Quality

Monthly Update: October 2020

A screenshot of one of our pre-recorded water quality monitoring Zoom videos.

Water Quality Monitoring at South Sound GREEN is back! We’ve been reconnecting with students and teachers this month to lead live and pre-recorded water quality lessons over Zoom and empower students to strive for healthier waterways. Hands-on environmental experiences may be hard to come by in a time of virtual learning, so in addition to our virtual resources we have worked to provide teachers with water quality test strips for students to test water in their own homes. It’s been so great to do what we do best with water quality monitoring again, even with the given circumstances. If you’re a teacher or you know a teacher who could use some support and would be interested in our water quality program, please reach out and let us know!

With the seasons changing and the days getting shorter, remember that now is a great time to enjoy the outdoors! A lot of our ThurstonTalk activities (including our recent Orcas in Disguise activity) are great for getting out in nature and taking advantage of the beautiful fall weather. And keep an eye out for future videos and resources from McLane Creek Nature Trail, where salmon will be returning to soon! We’re working with StreamTeam to create resources to experience salmon spawning even if you can’t make it to the trail. 

Stay safe and healthy everybody!


Monthly Update: September 2020

A screenshot of our new Water Quality Monitoring Story Map.

School is back! And although this year is unlike any other, South Sound GREEN is making sure students get the best water quality monitoring experience, even from their own homes! We have been working hard to develop our online resources, including interactive “field” journals, videos and other pre-recorded demonstrations, and a curriculum to allow students to evaluate water quality themselves using test strips.

We have also been building a brand new Story Map for students and teachers to go through our water quality parameters at their own pace. This Story Map is a culmination of many of the projects we’ve worked on this summer, including recorded lectures, ThurstonTalk activities, and pictures and videos of all of our water quality sites! The coolest feature of the Story Map is an interactive map of our test sites and over twenty years of water quality data, built by TCD’s very own Adam Peterson! We created the full Story Map with a lot of help from our friends at the Nisqually River Education Project, and we’re excited to share this amazing resource with our classes!

South Sound GREEN is offering live virtual water quality testing experiences with students all month, and if you’re a teacher who wants to schedule a virtual meeting with us, you can find out how on our website. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for program updates and highlights!


Monthly Update: August 2020

Sam presenting in our Shapes in Nature video, shot and edited by Mary Birchem from Capitol Land Trust

The new school year is almost here, and South Sound GREEN is preparing for a virtual start to education. As our amazing local teachers prepare for an unusual beginning of classes, we have been developing resources for students to participate in hands-on and engaging watershed activities from their own homes and nearby outdoor spaces. While there is no true substitute for spying a stream bug or seeing a spawning salmon with your own eyes, our retooled water quality monitoring program will still allow students to test water from home, take actions to directly improve the health of their watershed, and follow along with interactive online resources.

We had another wonderful professional development event this month, with 30 local teachers attending our Action for Oceans Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (MWEE) Summit that we co-hosted with the Nisqually River Education Project and Chehalis Basin Education Consortium. In this event, we gave teachers the opportunity to discuss some of the challenges of teaching environmental education virtually and provided resources for socially distant activities and lessons. Our keynote speaker, Samara Almonte, presented “Institutionalizing Environmental Justice in the Education System,” in which she reviewed the current issues facing the inclusion of BIPOC students and role models within the broad field of environmental education (you might also recognize Samara as the Digital Media Coordinator for the Thurston Climate Action Team). The respectful and collaborative atmosphere of this meeting allowed for productive discussion about equity and justice within the physical and virtual classroom, and we look forward to having similar conversations and presentations in future professional development events. South Sound GREEN is still creating weekly Home Science Activities with ThurstonTalk, and even made a video this month with Capitol Land Trust to teach kids about shapes in nature! Feel free to reach out and let us know if you would like to suggest a certain topic or if you would like to share some of your home projects.


Monthly Update: July 2020

Northwest Youth Corp participants running water quality tests at a Capitol Land Trust site!

Can you believe that we’re halfway through the summer already? While this summer is certainly different than most, we’re still taking on exciting new projects and preparing for the upcoming school year, whatever that may look like!

As the possibility of field trips this fall becomes less likely, we are developing new ways to engage students with our Water Quality Monitoring program, the most popular South Sound GREEN offering for local schools. One way we’re doing so is by documenting all of our testing sites with pictures and videos. Even if students can’t visit the sites themselves, they can still see what their site looks like – and hopefully while testing water from that site that we bring to them! It’s been a fun project to visit all 50+ sites and remind myself about how beautiful our local aquatic environments can be.

Additionally, we had the incredible opportunity this month to do water quality testing with students – in person! We worked with the Capitol Land Trust, who is hosting a group from the Northwest Youth Corp on one of their preserves. These students are living in isolation for weeks while working on conservation and reforestation projects daily. In doing so, these students effectively self-quarantine, so we were able to be a part of their nightly speaker series and bring hands-on activities as well! After talking with the students about the local watershed and salmon, we tested the water quality of the nearby salmon-bearing creek. It was South Sound GREEN’s first in-person interaction with students in about four months, and it felt great to be working with these environmentally conscious high schoolers face-to-face (or mask-to-mask). And as a bonus, the water quality results all looked great too!

South Sound GREEN is still publishing weekly Home Science Activities in ThurstonTalk, and you can find all of those activities here. School might not be starting for another month, but when it gets here we’ll be ready!