South Sound GREEN Watershed Educator – Applications Due August 21, 2019 at 4:30 pm
Thurston Conservation District’s South Sound GREEN Program seeks a driven, creative educator with a passion for the natural world to support local teachers and students in water quality monitoring, habitat restoration and creating community connections leading to watershed protection. The South Sound GREEN Watershed Educator will serve in a well-established, place-based environmental education program housed at Thurston Conservation District. Through water quality sampling and data analysis, the Watershed Educator will split time between the classroom and field sites, often working outdoors at local Puget Sound beaches, marinas, wetlands, creeks, lakes and other outdoor learning environments. The Watershed Educator will engage students through water quality monitoring, nearshore experiences, restoration and other service learning projects, and through the Annual Student GREEN Congress where students will present and analyze data on more than 50 monitoring sites. They will assist teachers by increasing their skills and confidence with watershed education and assisting with teacher professional development opportunities.
Overall, 857 students visited Puget Sound as part of the CLAMSS program! South Sound GREEN staff coordinated with community partners to serve as station leaders including Pacific Shellfish Institute and beach naturalists from the Puget Sound Estuarium, and recruited and trained volunteer divers, biologists and community members interested in helping out. South Sound GREEN staff led a stations on water quality impacts on Puget Sound (utilizing the Enviroscape model as a tool to identify non-point source pollution impacts and ways kids can change their behavior to improve water quality), and on OA impacts to crab survival which included a quadrat study of the beach.
Overall, SSG volunteers contributed 136.5 volunteer hours for these trips! In addition, 82 volunteer chaperones attending with the schools contributed 323 volunteer hours for a combined 479.5 volunteer hours! Special thanks to NOAA’s B-WET Education Program for funding this program!
On Thursday, March 21st over 350 local students will convene at The Evergreen State College to discuss water quality data across South Sound! In their morning State of the Rivers Sessions they will present the data from their water quality monitoring site and compare with others monitoring in the same watershed. Together they will decide on recommendations of action to improve watershed conditions!
Hopefully, for the ecosystem and the beach goers, none.
With the oceans becoming more acidic it is harder for shelled marine critters to build strong outer protection and secondary shellers (like hermit crab) are having trouble finding homes! Each item on the beach, whether it’s shells, crab molts, or rocks plays an important role in the beach’s local ecosystem.
And that is the main message being shared at the seashore during Nearshore Field Trips!
This spring South Sound GREEN hosted 770 students to participate in the Nearshore program. Students ranged between 5th to 8th grade, and came from 6 local schools. The Nearshore program is a field trip that South Sound GREEN offers as a way for students to connect their freshwater monitoring experience with the marine waters of Puget Sound.
For many kids this is the first time seeing some of the different marine species up close and in person, and gives students an introduction to marine biology. “I am thankful for this experience because I got to see new animals in a beautiful place” Aeivet, 5th grader. Through this hands-on program students learn about what affects marine water quality and how their freshwater monitoring site is connected to the Puget Sound. The students get to collect plankton samples, identify the plankton under microscopes, and use a Secchi disk to measure turbidity with Pacific Shellfish Institute. They also get an overview of scuba diving and interact with marine life brought up to the surface by the divers.
Students had the opportunity to explore the subtidal zone at Zittel’s Marina, and then then intertidal zone at Tolmie State Park and Johnson Point Beach. In this nearshore habitat they identified marine life with South Sound Estuary Association’s Beach Naturalists and discovered various adaptations that help the organisms to survive in the different habitat zones. During the programs, 255 volunteer hours were spent helping students to identify over 90 different marine species.
Julia from Lydia Hawk wrote “This was one of my favorite field trips in fifth grade! And thank you for letting our class experience this!” If each person that went to beach to experience the amazing marine ecosystem (like the 770 students in the Nearshore program) collected a souvenir, there would be very little for others to enjoy and even less left for marine critter’s to build their homes.
So remember the next time you’re on a vacation and want to take that beautiful cockle shell home, Life’s a Beach. Or rather Beach = Life.
Over 500 student delegates from 30 schools around the South Puget Sound and Nisqually Watersheds gathered at The Evergreen State College for the 26th Annual Student GREEN Congress on March 22nd. This year’s Congress theme focused on the Orcas of Puget Sound, featuring a welcome from State Representative Beth Doglio (LD-22) and a keynote presentation from Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales, a program where students can experience the world as the animals around them do. With the Southern Resident Killer Whale population at critical levels, it was a special opportunity to connect students’ work studying local streams to broader issues of environmental stewardship in their communities.
South Sound Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (GREEN) and the Nisqually River Education Project host Student GREEN Congress each year as the culmination of water quality monitoring programs with classes around local watersheds. Student delegates ranging from 4th grade through high school participated in a “State of the Rivers” session, sharing water quality data and developing action plans to improve their local streams and rivers.
Students also learned from experts dealing with today’s environmental issues and took part in hands-on, science-based educational workshops, including salmon dissections, investigating stream bugs, shellfish tasting, tree planting, and much more. Student GREEN Congress gives a unique opportunity to investigate other topics related to water quality.
One student who attended Congress wrote “The best part of GREEN Congress for me would have to be taking a Volcano class and meeting new people.” Even the teachers are excited about participating, “My students and I loved the break out classes. Each student was able to explore their individual interests in the water quality area.”
This year 159 volunteers, teachers, parents, and professionals supported the event by leading workshops and State of the Rivers sessions, guiding students around campus, and much more!
Since Student GREEN Congress began in 1992, thousands of students and hundreds of teachers have used hands-on learning to make a meaningful difference in their own backyards. The event is supported by many community partners who make this educational experience possible. In addition to support from Thurston Conservation District, Nisqually River Foundation, and The Evergreen State College, many community partners, along with local artists, scientists, and educators committed to environmental stewardship came together to put on another successful Student GREEN Congress. A special thank you to the Nisqually Indian Tribe for donating smoked salmon and seedlings as gifts for the 500+ student delegates.